This FAQ is for general information only for Family Law matters like Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Alimony, and Equitable Distribution (aka property distribution).  It is not tailored to your specific facts and circumstances.  This is not intended to provide legal advice or services, and does not create an attorney client relationship.  For specific legal advice as to your situation, please contact our Family Law attorney, Kristy J. Jackson, at (919) 778-6707 to schedule a Consultation.

1.     How do I separate?
In order to separate in North Carolina, you do not need separation papers.  You do, however, need to live in separate residences and have the intent to separate from your spouse.

2.     Do you handle Same Sex Family Law issues?
Yes!  We believe family is family, and provide legal services to all members of our community.

3.     Do I have to wait until I am divorced to see my children or split up our things?
No.  Divorce is a separate claim from the other issues.  Divorce cannot be filed until you have been separated for at least a year.  However, the other claims can be filed immediately – certain claims can even be filed before separation.  

4.     How do we divide up our property?
In North Carolina, property distribution between spouses is called Equitable Distribution.  With certain exceptions, spouses divide up assets and liabilities that were acquired during the marriage, including houses, retirements, and credit card debt.  While some estates are easy to divide between the Parties, others have business interests, extensive assets, or multiple pieces of real property that complicate matters.

As your attorney, we will help you identify your assets and liabilities and value them so that you can divide your estate equitably.  If you and your spouse can agree on how to divide up your property, you have options on how to memorialize your agreement, which may or may not include a court filing.  If you cannot agree and need to file with the Court for distribution of your property, we can help you bring the correct claims in a timely manner, all the while working with your spouse and their attorney to settle your case before you go to Court.  

5.     Will I have to pay my spouse support?
Alimony and its temporary counterpart, Post Separation Support, are forms of spousal support.  In its traditional form, Alimony is a monthly cash payment from one spouse to another to help support them.  Amount and duration vary with the case.

Like many other things, Alimony may be resolved without going to court in an Agreement.  Alimony may also be waived, and some spouses are by law not entitled to Alimony.  While Alimony is based at its core on income and expenses, each case has specific facts that might change the calculation and the dynamic.  That’s where we can help.  

6.     What about the kids?  How much will my Child Support be?
Perhaps the saddest part of separation and divorce is how it affects the children.  North Carolina requires anyone who files a claim for custody to go to mediation.  If the Parties cannot agree, they can have a hearing and the Judge will determine custody based on the best interests of the minor children.  Custody awards vary with the individual case and specific facts, and actual custody awards can range from every other weekend to equal custody, with variations in between.  
Child Support is typically set using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, and includes adjustments for health insurance, child care, and other extraordinary expenses.  The Guidelines apply to combined incomes less than $25,000.00 per month.  Each county in North Carolina also has a Child Support Enforcement Agency to help set and enforce Child Support; contact your local agency for more information.

Here at Everett, Womble, & Lawrence, we are keenly aware how Custody and Child Support affect the entire family.  Our job is to advise, and if necessary, litigate, but we keep in mind the practical aspects of your case as well.  This is especially true when children are involved, as no matter how a separation occurs and whose fault it is, those two individuals must raise their children together.

7.     Can I just come to an Agreement with my spouse?
Your case strategy may include Agreements – contracts between you and your spouse to resolve pending or expected issues without going to Court.  

Prenuptial Agreements (also known as Prenups or Premarital Agreements) are executed prior to a marriage to resolve various issues that may result from a marriage.  Postnuptial Agreements are executed during a marriage to resolve issues that may result from the marriage.  Separation Agreements are executed after separation to resolve issues in dissolving the marriage.

Some issues may be resolved in Separation Agreements but not in Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements.  As these Agreements are private contracts, enforcement is also a concern.  Our job is to draft a contract that is both valid under the law and addresses the issues relevant to your case.

8.    Why do I need a lawyer?  Can I just handle this myself?
Yes, you can handle this yourself – but you may be making things worse.  Family Law is unique in that the claims are intermingled, and may have long reaching ramifications.  Custody affects Child Support, and Equitable Distribution can affect Alimony.  What you decide now could affect your taxes and retirement 20 years from now.  If you do not agree with your spouse on various issues, then you may end up in Court.  There are many issues to think about, and it is our job as your attorney to advise you on those issues so that you can make informed choices.