Divorce is rarely easy, but grey divorce – the term for couples over 50 who split up – can be particularly difficult.
The emotional, financial, and logistical challenges may seem daunting at first, but with these tips, you can help make the transition smoother:
1. Take your time
Don’t rush into any decisions. Take the time to reflect on what went wrong and how you want to proceed.
2. Immediately seek legal representation
Divorce laws, procedures, and outcomes can vary greatly from state to state, so it’s important to get advice from an experienced attorney near you who is familiar with the NC divorce laws and local protocols.
Do not assume divorce in North Carolina will be the same as in other states such as South Carolina, Georgia, or Virginia.
An unbiased, realistic assessment from an attorney will help you make informed decisions and protect your interests throughout the divorce process.
The sooner you have legal representation, the better. There are often important steps to take to protect yourself before you say, ‘I want a divorce’ – Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Attorney
We can help explain your legal rights, responsibilities, and options.
3. Talk to a therapist
Divorce can be stressful, no matter your age or the length of your marriage.
That’s particularly true if there are allegations of marital infidelity, sexual misconduct, or abuse.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are struggling with grief, depression, and anger.
A therapist can help you find ways to cope with the stress and transition into a new way of life.
4. Educate yourself on finances
Divorce often brings substantial financial changes, so it’s important to be as informed as possible about your finances.
Before making any big “life decision,” it is imperative to fully under how assets are divided in a divorce – Bill Powers, Divorce Attorney
You should also be aware of the implications of tax laws and insolvency laws, which can affect your estate planning, retirement accounts, and other financial matters.
5. Talk to a financial adviser
Financial advisers can help provide sound advice for managing assets during and after the divorce process.
They can also offer tips for creating a budget and developing an achievable long-term financial plan.
Having a good understanding of your finances will help you make the best decisions during this time of transition.
We often recommend clients work with a financial planner who has no prior relationship or fiduciary relationship with your spouse. Confidentiality is important – Bill Powers, Mecklenburg Divorce Lawyer
6. Get organized
The divorce process is ordinarily quite complex. Having all the necessary documents in one place will help things proceed more smoothly and in a timely fashion.
Gather all of your financial records and documents, such as tax returns, bank accounts, investments, pensions, and insurance policies.
This will provide a clearer picture of your potential post-divorce income and expenses and help your lawyer understand your financial condition.
7. Set boundaries
In any divorce, especially one involving couples over 50, it’s a good to set boundaries with your soon-to-be ex-spouse so that both of you can move on with your lives.
Keeping communication civil is key.
Avoid unnecessary conflicts and acrimony. It’s OK if you don’t agree on everything.
If you find yourself in need of additional support, consider reaching out to friends or family members who can provide a different perspective and help guide you through the process.
8. Consider Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is a process that allows for both spouses to work together in resolving the issues of their divorce without litigation.
It’s an alternative dispute resolution method that can lead to faster and less costly results than traditional litigation.
By working with a qualified collaborative law attorney, you may be able to settle the issues in your divorce without having to go to court.
Collaborative divorce is an effective way to reduce stress and create a peaceful resolution for all parties, especially those over 50 who are facing unique challenges during their divorce – Bill Powers, Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Lawyer
Bill Powers is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals.
9. Make a plan for living expenses
As soon as you decide to divorce, make sure you have a plan in place for how you will cover living expenses during and after the divorce process.
This may involve budgeting, carefully monitoring cash flow, and/or seeking Post Separation Support (PSS) and Child Support.
10. Embrace the new you
Your divorce may be an opportunity to start fresh and redefine who you are.
You may find that it gives you the freedom to pursue interests and activities that were once put on hold – Bill Powers, Divorce Attorney
Take this time to explore what makes you happy, and find a new sense of purpose and fulfillment.
No matter what the future holds, remember that you are in control of your life, and there is no better time to start fresh than now.
By taking the time to plan ahead, you can ease some of the stress that comes along with gray divorces.
With careful consideration and professional advice, you can move forward in life without missing a beat.
Do I need to change my will?
It’s a good review and update your will after you have gone through a divorce.
Provisions in a pre-divorce will may no longer be valid (or appropriate) once the divorce is finalized.
For example, if your spouse is named as a beneficiary or executor of your will, it may be necessary to choose someone else for those positions.
Additionally, any bequests that were made to your former spouse very well may need to be updated or removed from your will and codicils to your will.
It is also important to update any health care directives (Declaration of Natural Death), Power of Attorney, and Medical Power of Attorney documents after a divorce, as such materials commonly contain provisions relating to your spouse that may not be appropriate post-divorce.
If you have any questions about the specific documents that need to be revised, it is best to consult with an attorney who can review your situation and advise accordingly.
In summary, it is important to review and update any estate planning documents after a divorce.
This is to ensure that the documents reflect your current wishes. An attorney can provide guidance and assistance on how to update your documents in order to protect your estate and legacy.
Who gets the house?
When it comes to who gets the house in a divorce, it depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your marital estate.
In many, if not most instances, the primary dwelling will be part of the marital estate. The division of real property is often one of the most important aspects of ED (Equitable Distribution) – Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer
Under the North Carolina divorce laws, the Court (the Judge) will divide the marital estate through something called Equitable Distribution.
A District Court Judge in North Carolina settles legal and factual disputes. Juries are not involved.
Classify, Value, and Distribute – CVD
The Court must first classify the property, determining whether it is a jointly held asset and part of the marital estate or separate property.
Separate property is not subject to equitable distribution in North Carolina, and therefore remains the property of the party who owns it.
Once the Court classifies the marital estate, the next step involves determining the value of the property/asset.
Thereafter, the Court (the Judge) will then determine how to distribute the assets through a process called equitable distribution.
What is Equitable Distribution?
Equitable Distribution is a process used by the Court to divide marital assets (the marital estate) during a divorce in North Carolina.
This division of property must be fair, but not necessarily equal.
In determining the division of assets, the Court will consider several factors, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions to the marital estate, their incomes, and earning potential.
The Court will also consider if either party intentionally wasted or destroyed marital assets prior to the divorce (marital waste).
“Equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean equal or fifty-fifty; the Court can consider various factors when determining the division of assets and is given broad discretion under N.C.G.S. Chapter 50.
This means that the Court may not necessarily divide the assets 50-50, but rather it will use its discretion to decide what is “equitable” given the unique nature and circumstances of the marriage.
What is considered during Equitable Distribution?
The Equitable Distribution Factors in North Carolina include things like:
(1) the income, property, and liabilities of each party;
(2) Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of property;
(3) Prior support obligations of either spouse;
(4) The needs of custodial and dependent children, if any;
(5) The age and health of each party; and
(6) Any other factor which the court deems relevant.
To be clear, Equitable Distribution only becomes necessary if the parties are unable to come to an agreement and/or are unwilling to sign a Separation Agreement.
ED is a notoriously complicated area of law. Your financial future deserves the attention of an attorney who will carefully review the full measure of the marital estate – Bill Powers, Equitable Distribution Attorney
What happens to retirement accounts?
Generally, contributions made to a retirement plan while married are often considered marital property and divided during divorce proceedings.
There are important exceptions. Each marital estate, like each client, is unique.
Retirement accounts may include funds from an employer-provided pension plan or 401(k).
It is important to consider any tax implications and withdrawal penalties that may arise from transfers of assets held in retirement accounts.
In some circumstances, retirement accounts owned prior to marriage and not made part of the marital estate, may not be considered marital property and thus would not be part of a divorce settlement / Equitable Distribution.
Each state has its own laws governing how these assets should be divided. It’s best not to assume North Carolina’s divorce laws are the same as other jurisdictions, even neighboring states like South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Ultimately, it is important to speak with an attorney regarding the specifics of your case.
Family law attorneys can help provide guidance on how a divorce will impact you and ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process.
Financial Considerations in Gray Divorce
In addition to Equitable Distribution, there are other financial considerations that should be made when it comes to a gray divorce, including issues such as:
- Retirement Funds / Retirement Savings
- Social Security Benefits
- Inherited Property
- Vacation Homes / Investment Property
- Rental Income
- Family Businesses / Closely Held Corporations
- Health Insurance
- Dependant Adult Children
- Education Savings / 529 Plans
- Stocks / Bonds / Certificates of Deposit
- Deferred Income Sources
- Disability Insurance / Life Insurance
Charlotte Divorce Lawyers – Powers Law Firm PA
At Powers Law Firm PA, our family law attorneys understand the emotional and financial complexities of a grey divorce.
We’re dedicated to compassionate, zealous legal advocacy and encourage ADR when appropriate – Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Attorney
If you are facing a divorce, the family law attorneys at Powers Law Firm PA may be able help.
We understand the financial and emotional stress that such an event can bring and will work to make sure your rights are protected throughout the process.
**Prior to discussing any family law matter, our firm will conduct a conflict check to confirm the availability of the firm for legal representation. We charge consultation fees, hourly rates, and often require a True General Retainer to retain the law firm for family law cases.
We help clients with legal issues involving:
- Legal Separation
- Separation Agreements
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Post Separation Support – PSS
- Equitable Distribution
- Domestic Violence Protective Orders – DVPO – 50B
- Alienation of Affection / Criminal Conversation
Virtual School and Online Learning is new to just about everyone in Charlotte.
It’s OK if you’re a bit stressed out.
There’s frankly a lot to juggle between work, household chores, and maintaining some semblance of a schedule.
The reality of school closures and dealing with the Coronavirus is setting in.
CMS has in effect pressed parents into service as “co-teachers” in a virtual learning environment.
If you’re having marital problems, considering separation or divorce, anxiety about teaching kids at home is entirely normal, if not to be expected.
There are some steps and plans to put in place that may help.
This hasn’t happened before
We are all, at least to some extent, creatures of habit.
Establishing a daily routine can be soothing.
It may help to be thoughtful in setting up certain rules for virtual learning, thereby avoiding creating the opportunity for bad habits.
Kitchen table, ‘virtual learning’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The key is to set parameters, removing distractions as much as possible – Bill Powers, Divorce Lawyer
With the continued closures of schools, restaurants, churches, and remote workplace arrangements, we are all dealing with the unfamiliar.
The new normal is anything but normal. It can be downright discombobulating.
Starting the new Charlotte Meck school year on-line, with its occasional start-up glitches, it’s important to be mindful that there will be an adjustment period.
It also may be necessary to set certain parameters, including workspace zones, areas of separation, quiet places, and tear down goals to convert the kitchen table from school to the place to gather and eat a family.
Virtual classes and schoolwork
Most people go into the profession of education voluntarily.
Educators go to school, study hard, and obtain a teaching certificate because they love working with kids and helping people learn.
Many later go on to receive a Master’s degree and/or Doctorate in education.
It’s a passion.
Classroom teachers feel chosen, led to the profession.
I’ve never understood why teachers don’t get paid more. I suspect many parents now share in my belief that they deserve a big-time raise – Bill Powers, Charlotte Collaborative Lawyer
Don’t reinvent the wheel. It makes sense to talk to friends, family, and neighbors about what works.
Reach out to people, call them, post on social media, exchange ideas about how to keep kids focused. Ask questions:
- What’s the best way to keep children engaged?
- How do you address special needs or learning styles?
- Are there better technologies or ways of doing things?
- What are the potential problem areas to anticipate and avoid?
- What works?
- What doesn’t work?
Collaboration is key.
Reach out to your child’s teacher. Social distancing results in, well, distancing, and separation from others.
We don’t always realize how important personal interaction is in educating children.
Seeing your teacher at “drop off” or at school events, if even for a short while, is part of the education process.
That’s clearly lost with virtual and remote learning.
Teachers probably don’t enjoy the virtual education process either.
They like kids.
They enjoy and thrive through interaction with others.
And they weren’t necessarily trained to teach by video.
If you have questions or concerns, talk to your child’s teacher. Share both concerns and successes.
Tell them the issues you encounter at home. Ask for advice and possible resources. Seek out their opinions.
And probably most importantly, thank your teacher.
Tell them how much you appreciate them.
Maybe share you did not fully realize how hard their job is until you tried doing it yourself.
Normalcy and regular patterns help in organizing the process of educating your loved-on.
Focus on the positives. Virtual learning can be more efficient. It may allow for less “slack time” or time wasted administering education such as “bio breaks,” rest periods, and putting seats in chairs.
Establish a designated “workspace” for members of the family.
Be intentional about it.
Require the learning area to be organized, free from clutter.
If it’s the kitchen table, remove everything including seemingly innocuous objects like salt-and-pepper shakers, centerpieces, and anything not related to doing school work.
Create a checklist of items:
- Internet Connectivity
Charlotte Child Custody Information
Sometimes married couples who plan on getting divorced think it’s a good idea to settle-up with a spouse and then retain a lawyer to draw up the necessary paperwork.
Clearly, it’s preferable to be reasonable and proceed in good faith in dealing with your spouse, particularly in instances where the marriage has fallen apart but the respective parties still care for one another.
Marriage offers an economy of scale that extends beyond just tax rates, deductions, and claiming eligible dependents.
Legal Separation and dividing a household often involve substantially increased living expenses.
Establishing and maintaining two separate households on the same income, especially when children are involved, can result in expenses that are in fact more than doubled.
It’s therefore understandable some might think they’re saving money by “working things out” in advance without the participation of legal counsel.
We understand short-term cash flow may be an issue.
At the same time, you worked hard for your house, retirement, 401K, and other personal and marital assets.
You should protect them.
Getting divorced is a major life event.
While an attorney is not required to prepare a Separation Agreement or to even file for divorce in North Carolina, once certain documents are executed and/or filed, some mistakes cannot be fixed – Bill Powers
If you don’t know what QDRO stands for (qualified domestic relations order) or what happens if you fail to timely allege a claim for Equitable Distribution, we urge you to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer in Charlotte.
I did some research on Google
The Internet can be a helpful source of information, at least during the formative stages of a divorce.
If nothing else, on-line research can get you up-to-speed on some of the important terms and general precepts of getting divorced in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of either misleading or incorrect “free advice” out there.
It is our considered opinion that self-help forums and purportedly “simple online divorce forms” involving post-separation support, child custody agreements, alimony, and Equitable Distribution are problematic at best.
Indeed, executing (signing) some agreements without the advice of a lawyer can have long term, negative, and irrevocable consequences.
It’s imperative to have a thorough understanding of your assets and the true value of the “marital estate.”
That often necessitates a review of bank records, real property valuation(s), mortgages, taxes, and the NC Child Support Guidelines before negotiating or agreeing to terms of separation.
Marriage by its very nature involves a comingling of assets.
Separating and distributing assets, hopefully without harming or reducing their value or incurring substantial financial penalties, can be a challenging if not vexing process.
We believe good decisions are predicated on having accurate, complete information.
That applies to both financial records and protecting your individual legal rights.
Some people tell their spouse, “I want a divorce,” not fully understanding the full range of consequences and how truly complicated determining child visitation, support, and distribution of assets can be.
“The financial aspects of ending a marriage are a common source of conflict and can be as troublesome as settling any hotly contested dispute in court – Bill Powers, Mecklenburg Divorce Lawyer
Before doing anything, perhaps even before telling your spouse you want a divorce, we think it’s important to fully understand your legal rights relative to your particular marriage.
You and your marriage are unique
Contrary to what some might think, one size does not fit all.
That is especially true regarding divorce in North Carolina.
Marital circumstances are rarely exactly the same from one marital relationship to another.
If that weren’t the case, it wouldn’t matter who you married.
What is important to you, how you raise your family, your faith, spending habits, and where you live might not mean a hill of beans to anyone else besides you.
That might even be true for your spouse.
There are reasons people get divorced.
As such, the advice of friends and family, as well-meaning as it may be, is all too often inapplicable to your individual matter, your financial condition, your personal concerns, needs, and circumstances.
It also may be flat out wrong and directly contrary to the divorce laws in North Carolina.
Even close friends and family often do not fully share the intricacies, difficulties, and nuances of their marriages.
Suffice it to say, some things better go unsaid.
Experience shows, those “embarrassing” and “unsaid” issues can be the reason for the divorce in the first place and possibly a point of contention in the future.
Friends and family also may feel it more important to support you and your feelings, rather than be brutally honest regarding certain issues and human frailties.
They also may not have all the facts or a full understanding of what the law is, rather than what they think it is or should be.
One of the benefits of the attorney-client privilege allows for complete disclosure of all the facts and circumstances of a divorce.
“You should tell your divorce lawyer the whole truth, even if it might be a bit embarrassing. Our job is to provide sound legal advice, not to judge you” – Bill Powers
Legal Reference Materials: Separation, Support, Custody, and Divorce
- What does Absolute Divorce mean?
- What does Joint Custody mean?
- What am I entitled to in a Divorce?
- How long does it take to get Divorced in North Carolina?
- Child Custody and Visitation During the Coronavirus
- NC Divorce Laws
Nationwide, January 6, 2020 has been informally designated as “Divorce Day.” Charlotte divorce lawyers anticipate a sharp increase in call volume immediately following the holidays.
While it may be popular to call it “Divorce Day,” in North Carolina, it might be better entitled, “Divorce Year.”
In part that is because the NC divorce laws, with certain exceptions, ordinarily mandate a minimum period of separation of 12 months before filing for divorce is authorized under the law.
Filing for divorce tends to slow down before Thanksgiving. Planning for separation and divorce spikes at the beginning of every new year – Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer
There are important legal filings and contractual agreements in the period leading up to the formal entry of a divorce order.
That may include things like:
- Post Separation Support (formerly referred to as temporary alimony)
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Separation Agreement
- Living Arrangements
- Asset valuation
- Equitable Distribution
- Transfer of Real Property and Marital Assets
Separating a marital estate can be complicated.
Even with the most modest of assets, it tends to be a time-consuming process.
What is the first step to getting divorced?
That’s a great question and one we wish more people would ask themselves before taking certain actions.
Unless there is some sort of abusive behavior necessitating the institution of safety measures or a 50B protective order, we generally do not recommend packing up and moving out. There are important legal rights relative to divorce that deserve careful consideration before action – Bill Powers, Divorce Attorney
We strongly recommend you speak with an attorney before doing anything. Timing and preparation can be key.
It also may prove to be a better financial decision to proceed with caution, gathering important documentation and information before saying, “I want a divorce.”
There are generally consequences to actions in family law cases. Prior to making any major, life-changing decision, we recommend you speak to one of our Charlotte divorce lawyers.
Whether it is our law firm or another located in Mecklenburg County, proceeding in haste can make the process unnecessarily expensive, adversarial, and emotionally taxing.
How much do lawyers cost for divorce?
Retaining a divorce attorney in Charlotte may be a bit different from your prior experiences with lawyers.
First, unlike traffic ticket lawyers or attorneys who handle minor criminal charges, there often is an initial consultation fee.
Divorce lawyers in Mecklenburg County (at least at our law office, the Powers Law Firm PA) bill hourly.
Some attorneys also require some sort of retainer. That may involve something called a True Retainer to reserve their legal services. A True Retainer is earned immediately and is not billed against.
A true retainer is paid to ensure the availability of the divorce lawyer. It also may serve to prevent legal representation to an adverse party in the separation and divorce.
Legal fees predicated on hourly work, as earned, are separate and apart from the True Retainer.
Other law firms require a retainer to be held in trust, from which legal fees are billed on a periodic basis.
At Powers Law Firm we charge:
- Initial Consultation
- True Retainer
- Hourly Rates billed weekly and/or bi-weekly
We accept credit cards, personal checks, and other traditional forms of payment. We prefer not to hold funds in trust, instead billing clients after work is performed.
We also prefer to put everything in writing. We want to make sure clients fully understand what is and what is not included in legal representation.
We seek to be completely up front and transparent with clients about the costs of hiring a divorce lawyer. It takes time to go through the contract of representation and explaining anticipated costs – Bill Powers
Expert fees, filing fees, costs of discovery, and other expenses of litigation are not part of legal representation. We also do not charge a flat rate for legal services.
Divorce Day is a good time to start looking for a lawyer and planning, educating yourself on the true costs of getting divorced.
The attorney-client relationship
Prior to speaking with a divorce lawyer at our office, we perform a conflicts check and further confirm availability for legal representation.
We want to help, understanding separation and divorce, especially in matters involving large marital estates, children, and Equitable Distribution, is a trying process.
To be clear, we are unable to assist every person who calls our office.
Our law firm is careful in client selection, limiting the number of matters we undertake for legal representation.
That means we accept a limited number of new clients on an annual basis. We want to be able to focus on the complexity of cases, working hard to make ourselves available for consultation and regular communication.
That means we purposely limit the overall number of clients we represent.
There are some matters we may feel it better to refer an inquiry to another lawyer or law firm.
Our goal is to make clear, from the outset, how the process works and what we do to help people going through difficult times. Legal representation for a divorce is a long-term relationship. We want clients to feel comfortable with us and our professional perspectives – Bill Powers, Divorce Lawyer
Call our law office now to determine the firm’s availability and the costs of legal representation: 704-342-4357
Related Legal Issues and Topics of Interest:
- When is the Best Time to get Divorced?
- Separation and Divorce Tips
- Post Separation Support and Alimony
- I Want a Divorce
- Legal Fees
- The First Step in Divorce
- Divorce after separation
- Surviving the Holidays
Surviving the holidays in a difficult marriage can be difficult at best. Despite that, legal separation and filing for divorce in Charlotte tend to decline during certain seasons.
Pre-existing problems in a marriage may be exacerbated by family commitments and the hustle brought on by the time of the year.
Some parents stay married for the children, thinking to themselves, “I want to give them one more special time before moving forward.”
Those are completely reasonable feelings.
Our job as Charlotte divorce lawyers is not to convince you to separate or end the marriage.
Indeed, once advised of their legal rights, some people choose to stay married and work things out.
That’s OK with us. The key is to determine what is best for you and your family.
We believe good decision-making, like sound legal advice, is predicated on possessing good information – Bill Powers
Anticipating the end of a relationship can be bitter-sweet, if not downright hard.
That is made all the more difficult if there are uncertainties and questions about the application of the divorce laws to any given marriage.
When is the best time to file for divorce?
Frankly, there really isn’t one “best answer” to that question.
Timing can be an important consideration but it is by no means the sole or only factor to take into account.
Family law cases are as varied and different as the people involved in a marriage.
There are differing, complex issues to consider including the education of children, filing of taxes, and above all, your safety and that of loved-ones.
Without question, “surviving the holidays” does not include suffering through physical violence, sexual assault, or other criminal acts.
If you fear for your safety or that of your children, there are protective measures that may be undertaken separate and apart from the formal filing for divorce.
Filing for divorce is often the last step in the ending a marriage in North Carolina. In large measure that is due to the mandatory period of legal separation as set forth in the NC divorce laws – Bill Powers
While we are more than willing to speak about seasons of the year, relative to planning and filing for divorce, that is to some extent putting the cart before the horse.
We believe it best to have all the facts/documentation in hand before filing any type of legal proceeding.
In complex family law matters, those involving child custody and visitation or marital estates requiring careful consideration of financial records and Equitable Distribution, the parties may agree to proceed by way of a Separation Agreement.
Collaborative Divorce may also be an option to consider. “Filings” in court (Clerk of Court) in those instances may be sporadic if not limited.
It is increasingly popular for married parties to work through the specifics of divorce privately.
Assuming there aren’t disputes over Post Separation Support or “PSS” or visitation issues, even if between contentious spouses, many issues may be handled via negotiations, the voluntary exchange of financial records, by and through legal counsel.
We do recommend potential clients begin the process of selecting a divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
Even if you would like to wait until after the holiday season to move forward, it’s a good idea to plan for that.
Lawyers, like doctors, are subject to schedules and pre-existing commitments.
Put simply, if you’d like to sit down and talk a divorce law, call now and schedule an appointment.
We also do not strictly require clients to come to our law office.
We will use secure video conferencing.
Will the judge be mad if I don’t try to work things out?
Generally speaking, the answer is, “No.”
North Carolina, with certain limited exceptions, is considered a no-fault divorce state.
That doesn’t mean Family Court Judges in Mecklenburg County prefer acrimony and/or unreasonable litigants.
That is especially true when considering the best interests of children.
We believe the better practice is to proceed in good faith, seeking equitable and fair resolutions to disputes. Litigation is expensive and frankly, at times, not merited – Bill Powers
As such, the Court does not mandate counseling and working through marital issues.
A judge is not going to try to convince anyone to remain married against their will.
It will demand the parties are honest, that they disclose all relevant records/materials associated with the marriage, and that all Court Orders are followed.
Related Legal Issues and Topics of Interest
- When is the Best Time to get Divorced?
- Separation and Divorce Tips
- Collaborative Divorce
- What is Collaborative Divorce?
- Post Separation Support and Alimony
- I Want a Divorce
- NC Divorce Laws – Chapter 50
Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Bill Powers
If you have questions about your legal options, we may be able to help.
The first step involves calling our law firm and speaking with a legal assistant.
It’s a good idea, prior to meeting, to check for conflicts and availability for legal representation. It’s also a good idea to understand the costs of a formal consultation and retention of the firm as counsel – Bill Powers
Call Bill Powers NOW: 704-342-4357Learn More
At first blush, the North Carolina law requiring a one-year separation period before a court can grant divorce has some saving qualities. One might view the law as creating the space and time for couples to reconsider divorce, which is especially important when children are involved. However, for certain individuals, the one-year waiting period is quite a burden.
One-Year Waiting Period May be Incompatible for Certain Marriages
A 33-year-old woman living in North Carolina separated from her husband and was able to provide solid evidence to a court to warrant a restraining order. Included in her evidence were photos of injuries she claims she sustained from the abuse of her husband. Even with a documented history of abuse and a restraining order, the woman must wait one year before seeking a divorce. During the interim, she had to pay her husband’s health insurance. She also had to endure the psychological distress of knowing that the person who allegedly abused her was legally recognized as her husband. Possible abuse victims like this woman fear for their safety when the state requires prolonging a legal relationship, which brings them pain and suffering. The issue with the one-year waiting period is not limited to psychological pain. Like the woman’s payment of her estranged spouse’s health insurance, sustained legal recognition of the marriage carries certain obligations and requirements abuse victims should not have to maintain. In one respect, the obligation may prove unethical and dangerous.
Domestic Abuse Victim Seeks to Amend G.S. 50-6
The woman’s ordeal prompted her to create a petition requesting North Carolina Attorney General and the state General Assembly to amend G.S. 50-6. The petition seeks an amendment of the one-year waiting period for established abuse victims. The woman’s campaign garnered national attention after her story was featured on Now This, a national news outlet. The campaign sought to highlight the counterintuitive nature of the law. For example, it is rather unethical to require a spouse to remain married to an individual who has been convicted of stabbing him or her. Proponents of amending G.S. 50-6 find no defensible argument requiring an abuse victim to continue a marriage that is dangerous to his or her well-being. North Carolina is not the only state with a waiting period requirement. Other states (Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania) actually have a two-year waiting period if the divorce is not mutually consensual.
How Divorcing Abuse Victims Can Manage North Carolina’s One-Year Requirement
As an abuse victim seeking a divorce, the best thing you can do is get out of harm’s way. This includes obtaining a domestic violence protective order and ceasing cohabitation. Even though G.S. 50-6 is still the law in North Carolina, there are additional safeguards abuse victims can request to facilitate their safety and tamper the obligations of the legally recognized marriage. This includes requiring that law enforcement remove the defendant from a shared home, ordering the defendant to stay away from the plaintiff’s home, school or place of work, ordering the defendant to pay his or her own insurance, and ordering the defendant to forfeit any firearms or other weapons. Abuse victims must keep well-documented records of all encounters with their abusive spouse. In addition, hire an experienced family law attorney to aggressively fight for your interests during this critical juncture.
Charlotte Divorce and Domestic Abuse Attorneys
At Powers Landreth PLLC we will provide zealous representation to ensure that the law works on your behalf. Even though G.S. 50-6 is still the law in North Carolina, our experienced family law attorneys can advise you and craft legal strategies to facilitate your one-year transition. Contact us now for a consultation.
In the United States, divorcing parties, depending on their state of residence, are subject to equitable distribution or community property rules as it relates to the division of their property. Most states adhere to equitable distribution standards while a minority of states observes community property rules.
Community Property States
Community property encompasses assets that were acquired during the marriage, but excluding gifts and inheritances. Community property does not consider the named owner on the title of the property. It only takes into consideration that the property was acquired during the marriage thus included in the “marital community.” A minority of states adheres to community property rules during divorce proceedings including Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, California and Alaska (by agreement).
Equitable Distribution States
In an equitable distribution state, assets and earnings that are acquired during the marriage are divided equally at divorce. This mechanism is termed “equitable” because the means by which property division occurs is deemed “fair.” Under equitable distribution, the property acquired by both parties during the marriage is likely separated between the two parties, while property acquired before marriage or acquired by one party is usually distributed to the party with ownership. Therefore, a house bought by both parties during the marriage, a joint bank account and a jointly owned small business can be classified as marital property for the purposes of property distribution. Property owned by the parties is presumed as marital property unless it falls under the definition of separate property. In addition, if the court finds one party guilty of fault (i.e., adultery, abandonment, cruelty), the court may order one party to receive less than the equal share of the marital property. Even in this instance, although not equal, the distribution is deemed fair. North Carolina is an equitable distribution state.
Equitable Distribution in North Carolina
North Carolina adheres to equitable distribution rules of property distribution. In North Carolina, once marital property is classified, the court divides the property between both parties. However, the inquiry does not stop at identifying the marital property. North Carolina has promulgated twelve factors for which the court must analyze to determine the most equitable division. The factors include (§ 50-20):
- Income, property, liabilities of each party
- Any obligation of support from a prior marriage
- Duration of the marriage and the age and physical health of both parties
- Need for custodial parent to occupy or own marital residence
- Any expectation of pension, retirement rights that are not marital property
- Direct or indirect contributions made by one spouse for the education or development of the other
- Any direct contribution to an increase of value in separate property during the marriage
- Tax consequences of transferring property
North Carolina Divorce Attorneys
The attorneys at Powers Landreth PLLC have represented and advised clients on equitable distribution matters for many years. We have substantial knowledge in transactional and court processes as it relates to marital property distribution and we will aggressively represent you in your case. Contact us now for a consultation.
North Carolina Permits Fault and No-Fault Divorce
When it comes to grounds for divorce, North Carolina is a hybrid state. It permits filings for both fault and no-fault divorce actions. It is important that divorcing parties are aware that North Carolina is a no-fault state as no-fault normally provides individuals with a speedy and egalitarian divorce proceeding. A contentious marriage or parties who have viable legal grievances against one another may not agree to a no-fault divorce proceeding. Therefore, knowing the differences between the two grounds of divorce is valuable to all parties involved. Under North Carolina law, the two broad bases for fault divorce are marital misconduct (i.e., adultery) or incurable insanity. The complete definitions of both broad grounds are defined via legal precedent and legislative interpretation. In the alternative, no-fault divorce is clearly stated under statute. Under the no-fault divorce statute, both parties must have resided in North Carolina for six months or more. The parties must also live separate and apart for one year.
One Year of Separation
The one year separation standard deserves further discussion. Parties involved in divorce litigation in North Carolina must fully comprehend the requirements and restrictions of this provision. North Carolina requires that the parties live separate and apart from one another for the entirety of the twelve months. The separation must be significant in proximity and excludes instances where the parties reside in different areas of the same dwelling home. However, the separation provision discounts isolated instances of sexual encounters between the parties. During the one-year period, it is imperative that the parties cease holding themselves out to the world as a couple. A majority of divorces initiated in North Carolina occurs under the one year separation rule.
Divorce from Bed and Board
Another form of divorce permitted in North Carolina is called divorce from bed and board. It is an outdated form of divorce rooted in English common law. Unlike the one-year of separation ground, divorce from bed and board does not qualify as absolute divorce. In the instance of a finalized divorce from bed and board action, the court grants the parties a perpetual separation and protection in their persons and property. Divorce from bed and board is a permanent separation of sorts. This option is usually for individuals who do not want to endure a full divorce due to financial or religious reasons. They see value in a decree that permits them to live separately and divide their property, while protecting the legal and religious union. This option is often utilized by people of advanced age who have been married for many years.
Your North Carolina Family Law Attorneys
Divorce can be a long and difficult process. You need a team of experienced attorneys who understand the nuances of family law. Please contact Powers Landreth PLLC if you have any questions. Our seasoned attorneys are on-hand to provide you with the help you need. Contact us now for your individualized consultation.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an out-of-court alternative dispute resolution method that takes the place of tradition in-court proceedings. Mediation focuses on collaboration and discovering common ground within a dispute. Generally, mediation is a voluntary process; however, some states mandate mediation as a starting point for certain disputes. Even though mediation is generally a voluntary process, the agreement that is drawn as a result of the mediation is binding on all parties involved. Mediation has grown to become a workable dispute resolution process for separating and divorcing parties.
The goal of mediation is to create the best possible outcome utilizing fairness and strategies that will facilitate harmony in long-term relationships. Parties who engage in the mediation process will find that it is less adversarial and more equitable. Further, parties are able to reach their settlement goals more readily when they opt for mediation.
There are many benefits of mediation, including the following:
- Less expensive than traditional court proceedings;
- Mediation usually ends with a settlement on all divorce issues;
- Parties can still have their attorney present;
- The parties have control over the outcome of the process; and
- A trained mediator will help facilitate the dispute resolution process.
The Mediation Process
Parties can opt for mediation before or during the divorce court proceeding. A couple may choose to use mediation as a means of negotiating a separation agreement, parenting schedules, property distribution and child custody. Some states, including North Carolina, restrict the issues around which parties may mediate. In North Carolina, mediation involving a history of domestic violence is restricted. As discussed above, mediation is generally voluntary. However, North Carolina law mandates that all child custody disputes start with mediation. It is obvious that mediation is valued as a more desirable process when children are involved. This is not surprising as mediation seeks to consider the best interests of all parties involved in the dispute.
In North Carolina, the mediation process starts with orientation where all sides of the dispute are apprised about the process. At this point, the court or the parties will choose a mediator to facilitate the mediation. The parties are then separated so that the mediator gets a sense of what the issues are on all sides. Some mediation sessions will remain segregated with the mediator as the go-between. In the alternative, some sessions are integrated. If the parties come to an agreement, they must sign a contract and the document is presented to the court for certification. If the parties do not come to an agreement (which also happens), then the court will set a date for an adversarial hearing.
Charlotte Divorce Attorneys
Mediation is another way to deal with the issues in your divorce case. There are many benefits to the mediation process as discussed above. The attorneys at Powers Landreth PLLC have years of experience navigating the North Carolina mediation program. We know that dispute resolution is important, especially when children are involved. The seasoned attorneys at Powers Landreth PLLC are here to guide you through the divorce and child custody mediation processes. Contact us now for a consultation.
The common perception of divorce is generally negative. Pop culture is rife with depictions of nasty divorces and spouses bickering over every single possession. Children are often caught in the crossfire, as their parents fight bitterly to take everyone possible from their former partner.
In order to avoid a costly and lengthy divorce battle in the courts, an increasing number of spouses are taking advantage of settlement negotiations. Using techniques from alternative dispute resolution, the settlement negotiation process helps amenable spouses work together to isolate a mutually beneficial solution to divorce.
The following sections will provide an overview of the settlement negotiation process in North Carolina.
What is the Settlement Negotiation Process in North Carolina?
As outlined in Chapter 50, Article 4 of the North Carolina General Statutes, settlement negotiations feature an out-of-court process for spouses who wish to divorce.
Instead of engaging in a fully fledged court process for divorce, settlement negotiations allow the spouses to resolve their issues directly. Stated otherwise, the spouses work with each other to design the parameters of their divorce.
Throughout the settlement negotiation process, the spouses and their respective attorneys will work together to plan the family’s post-divorce reality. If the spouses have children, they will need to determine child custody. In certain cases, alimony or other support may be appropriate. The spouses will also need to figure out the equitable distribution of the marital property that they share together.
Overall, the settlement negotiation process allows spouses to plan out all of the essential terms in a divorce, without the stress of court filings, appearances, and additional attorney’s fees.
How Do Settlement Negotiations Help Achieve Divorce in North Carolina?
Chapter 50, Article 4 of the North Carolina General Statutes outlines certain requirements necessary to achieve an out-of-court divorce. Assuming the spouses are able to agree amicably on all required divorce terms – including child support, property division, alimony, etc. – then there are a few remaining steps.
First things first, the spouses and their attorneys prepare a writing that summarizes their settlement negotiations. Both spouses and their respective lawyers must sign the writing. Without all required signatures, the writing is not valid or effective.
Secondarily, the writing must specify all of the agreements and understandings from the settlement negotiation process. This means that the writing must spell out in specific terms all agreements concerning alimony, child support, property division or other relevant terms.
Let Us Assist You Today
Whether you are dealing with settlement negotiations, it can be valuable to seek legal assistance from a skilled family law attorney. Don’t hesitate to contact Powers Landreth PLLC in Charlotte for help.