Finding yourself in the midst of a divorce often comes with angst and despair. For most people, it is an incredibly difficult time. Even if you feel a sense of relief about the divorce, it does not make it less stressful or time-consuming.
Divorces can last several months, requiring hours of paperwork and decision-making.
Highly rated in divorce cases and other related practice areas, the Charlotte divorce lawyers at Melone Hatley, P.C. can help you. To learn more about the legal services our family law firm offers, call 800.479.8124 .
This guide will teach you how to identify and avoid the ten most common mistakes people make in a divorce.
Divorce is never easy, especially when there are children, marital property, or other assets involved. It is common for situations to escalate quickly and become tumultuous. Divorces that are not collaborative can put plenty of stress on you and your family as you negotiate with your spouse. An experienced divorce lawyer can work towards equitable distribution and advocate for your rights.
Melone Hatley, P.C. is here for you. Our family law attorneys have been recognized as a knowledgeable and compassionate team and are equipped to help you through this very difficult process. The goal of our team is to empower you to move forward after your divorce is finalized, settling issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, property division, and other legal issues associated with your divorce.
How much a divorce lawyer costs in Charlotte is not a clear-cut answer because the overall expense will be based on a variety of factors, such as any decisions regarding your children, assets, and other specifics related to your individual case. A divorce attorney typically charges between $350 and $375 per hour (keeping in mind there will be some outlier prices). Generally, a divorce lawyer’s rates commensurate with their experience.
In North Carolina, to be eligible to file for a divorce, or “absolute divorce”, you must meet specific criteria. The primary criteria for obtaining a divorce in Charlotte, North Carolina include:
As long as these conditions are met, even if your spouse disputes the divorce, you can still file. Your spouse does not have to complete any paperwork, sign forms, or even attend court hearings relating to the divorce. They are, however, required to receive proper legal notice of the divorce being filed.
North Carolina law stipulates there are only two grounds for which you can file for divorce. As a no-fault divorce state, any separation requirement is non-negotiable even if a type of fault, such as alienation of affection or domestic violence, is proven.
While separation is required to be eligible for a divorce in North Carolina, you do not need to formally file a legal separation agreement. If you and your spouse have been “separate and apart” and meet the aforementioned requirements in accordance with North Carolina legal processes, you can file for divorce once a year and a day from the time you and your spouse were no longer cohabiting.
Despite the fact North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, there is one exception. State law allows incurable insanity as grounds for divorce on which the sane spouse can petition. To be eligible, you still must live separately and apart from your spouse for three consecutive years due to his or her mental health condition. You do not need to demonstrate you intended for at least one year for the separation to be permanent.
Generally, to obtain incurable insanity as grounds for divorce, you must provide evidence that your spouse suffers a condition and has been confined or examined for three consecutive years. The law is very specific about how evidence is presented for incurable insanity grounds in divorce. One spouse must also have lived in North Carolina for at least six months.
Another option many estranged spouses pursue is collaborative divorce. This type of divorce focuses on negotiation to keep the divorce hearing from ever seeing a courtroom. As a legal option, collaborative divorce empowers couples to negotiate the terms of their divorce without ugly court battles.
Instead of fighting in court, spouses use a combination of resources available to them, such as mediation and negotiation, both of which can help divorcing couples come to an agreement on issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, and debt division.
For the collaborative divorce process to succeed, both spouses must be committed to the process to ensure it goes smoothly. If only one spouse agrees, this process cannot work effectively. Alternatively, if the marriage has a history of domestic violence or an inability to communicate, collaborative divorce may prove too difficult. Partnering with experienced collaborative divorce attorneys who are well-versed in coming to amicable solutions can help collaborative divorce succeed.
Collaborative divorce to reach agreements does not mean your divorce attorney will not advocate in your best interests. What it does mean is that through negotiation and discussions, if you and your spouse are willing to work through issues in this alternative to a court battle, you could come to a win-win settlement for both parties. The Melone Hatley, P.C. law firm will meet with you privately to confer about your preferences before entering discussions with your spouse or their legal representation.
North Carolina is one of the only states that recognize alienation of affection in tort law. While alienation of affection is not grounds for divorce in Charlotte, one spouse is legally allowed to sue a third party for wrongful acts that stole the affection of their spouse.
Potential defendants you can bring about a case against for alienation of affection in North Carolina include, for example, affair partners (which does not need to include sex) or meddling in-laws. To have a case, you must prove:
You and your spouse had a valid marriage with genuine love and affection.
This love and affection was destroyed and ruined the marriage.
The deterioration of the marriage was caused by the wrongful and malicious behavior of a third party.
The actions of the third party occurred prior to the separation of marriage.
The alienation caused you damage, such as your lost marriage, depression, economic losses, and any other valid complaints relating to the actions of the third party.
Evidence you will need to present your case includes photos, videos, letters, cards, and other documents that demonstrate a loving marriage. Other proof you can provide are detailed descriptions of special things you and your spouse shared, such as special meals, surprises, gifts, and other actions that show affection, including the testimony of family and friends who witnessed behaviors consistent in a happy marriage.
To have a successful alienation of affection case, you must prove your marriage would still be happy if not for the interference of the third party.
In most divorce cases, a judge starts with equitable distribution (50/50), which is a legal claim for division of property, all assets, and debts acquired during the length of the marriage. A 50/50 decision is not a given.
Assets acquired before the marriage are generally considered “separate property” and not divided. Spouses are, however, permitted to lay claim to certain assets based on “active increases in value during the marriage.”
A judge typically takes into account the health, ages, debt, income, earning power, and property of each spouse, along with the length of the marriage, before tendering a decision about how to divide property and assets.
Dividing property can quickly become complicated, but an experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate this process and work to see you obtain a fair share.
Many couples establish agreements on how assets are divided in the event of a divorce (or death). In North Carolina, both a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement are legal documents people can draw up should they decide to establish a formal agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is when a couple signs a document before the marriage takes place, outlining how assets would be divided if the couple were to divorce. You do not have to be wealthy to consider a prenuptial agreement. In many instances, couples find it to be the right choice because, in the event things do not go as planned, everything is legally spelled out.
People often choose prenuptial agreements in second marriages if they want to preserve assets for their children born from an earlier marriage. Others who come into the relationship with substantial assets, such as a home, a business, or other financial accounts, may want to ensure it stays with them and not split if the marriage were to end.
Less common than prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements address many similar issues. The difference is that a couple signs the document after the marriage takes place. Circumstances where you might opt to assemble a postnuptial agreement is if you separate from your spouse with the intention of working to reconcile any differences. This protects each individual and removes any potential arguments down the road because it clearly defines the responsibilities and expectations of each spouse.
Both documents are validated with physical signatures of both parties and are notarized.
North Carolina distinctly separates physical child custody and legal child custody. When determining who gets child custody, in family law cases, judges consider a variety of factors.
Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like; it is a term that relates to a decision where the judge determines where a child lives, and responsibility for the daily care of the child is assumed by the custodial parent. In certain circumstances, a judge may award equal physical custody to both parents to share if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child, meaning the child spends split time in both households.
Legal custody determines which parent has control of making decisions relating to their child’s well-being, including health, school, and religion, along with any other decision parents face. Legal custody is separate from physical custody and does not necessarily align with where the child physically lives, it may be granted to one or both parents by the court. A parent granted visitation rights can still be awarded equal say in the upbringing of their child.
In divorce situations, if parents cannot come to an amicable agreement, a judge weighs many factors when deciding on child custody.
While a judge may include a child’s preferences if they have reached “the age of discretion”, this opinion does not sway a decision if the judge deems the child’s needs to be a different decision.
During North Carolina divorce proceedings, a judge decides whether alimony is warranted. State law does not provide a formula for calculating alimony, so judges take into account the same factors as splitting assets. In fact, alimony is often not awarded. In cases where a judge might award spousal payments, the following is considered:
A decision typically comes down to each spouse’s financial situation and whether or not they are in a position to support themselves independently. If the earning power of one spouse is significantly higher than the other, chances are better alimony will be awarded.
You can choose to represent yourself in court, but it is typically not an advantageous decision, especially if disputes regarding important issues fester during the divorce. A divorce attorney can offer:
Spouses without representation tend not to receive the best outcome. If your spouse has a divorce lawyer, you do not want to face your case without legal representation.
Despite the best intentions, sometimes it is just impossible to come to a collaborative conclusion in a marriage. If this occurs, the knowledgeable and caring Charlotte divorce attorneys at the Melone Hatley, P.C. law firm can help you to finalize your divorce.
Upholding a caring attorney-client relationship is very important to our law firm. In addition to lending our expertise and experience, we also offer free eBooks, easy online scheduling, and free advice videos to help our clients with different legal matters, such as estate planning and living wills.
To request a consultation or obtain legal representation about family law matters, call the Melone Hatley, P.C. law firm at 800.479.8124 or complete our online contact form to speak with a member of our legal team about your divorce case.
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