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North Carolina is a 'no-fault" divorce state. So the only ground for divorce in the state of North Carolina is one year of separation before either party can file for divorce. There is a pending bill ((NC Senate Bill 459) that would reduce the required time period to six months, if it passes and becomes law. Check back for further updates.
Alimony and equitable distribution claims must be filed prior to the entry of a divorce judgment or you lose your right to pursue them. If you have claims for alimony and equitable distribution, you should meet with a family law attorney and file them prior to the entry of a divorce judgment.
If you have met the one-year separation criteria and have filed for divorce, it typically takes an additional 60-90 days for the divorce judgment to be entered in Guilford County.
Equitable distribution is the division of all marital assets and debts between the two parties in the marriage. Determining what assets and debt are marital and what are not is important before moving forward. If you have questions about the equitable distribution process, schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.
Biological parents have an equal right to custody of their children. In the event the parties are not married, the father may have to take a couple of additional steps to exercise his custodial rights. If neither parent is a fit and proper parent, others may be entitled to custody.
Grandparents have the ability to petition the court for visitation in some circumstances. In the event that neither parent is a fit and proper parent, grandparents have a right to petition the court for custody.
Parents will have to work together throughout their lives on behalf of their children. It's in the parents' best interest to find a way to do that without asking a judge to do that for them. Mediation is an excellent way to start that process. In the event the parents don't reach agreement and find a way to co-parent their children, a judge will decide when you are allowed to spend time with your children. That final Judge's decision might not be as agreeable as a decision reached in mediation.
Both parents have a responsibility to provide support for their children. There are child support guidelines that establish the amounts each parent pays based on their custodial schedule and their incomes. If special circumstances exist the court may deviate from those guidelines. Ask an attorney about whether your specific facts might be a reason for deviation.
There's no specific age where a child can have input into the determination as to where they should live or how much time they should spend with each parent. A rule of thumb is children over 12 years old can have some input and the older the child gets the more input a child will have. Ultimately, the judge has total discretion over where a child resides even after considering the child's input. It is also very difficult to determine how children may be impacted by being involved in an adult issue involving their parents.
If you pass without a Will, North Carolina Statutes allow your estate to flow to your relatives. First to your spouse and children, but if you don't have a spouse or children assets flow to extended family members. If you have a Will, then you decide which of your family benefits from your assets. For instance, in your Will you are not required to leave assets to all your children and you can leave assets to a friend, church, or a nonprofit. As long as you have a Will, you make the determination about what happens to your assets when you pass not the State. A Will is a living document that is not etched in stone and you can make changes to it throughout your live as needed.
Younger adults should consider having a Will to have control over where their assets go in the event of an untimely death. This is especially true if you have children. You should have a Will and may include a trust for your child with provisions as to the age they actually receive control over their inheritance. Here we usually urge you to consider how most teens manage money. The Will can also establish who you would prefer to be Guardian of your young children.
If you want to have control over where your assets would go in the event of your death, you should. Otherwise, your assets will be given to your parents or if you have no parents to your brothers and sisters. This may cause a problem for a parent or sibling who receives public assistance or provide nothing for a person who is not a relative that you would like to benefit.
Maybe and Maybe Not. You absolutely should review your Will and consider whether changes are necessary when any significant life event occurs, such as marriage, divorce, birth of children, death of family members, or even a change in the health of family members. Any major event in your life should trigger a review of your Will to determine if changes need to be made. Make an appointment to talk with us about whether or not you need a new Will.
This is usually called Probate of your Will. It begins when the person you name as your Executor qualifies with the clerks office. Then your Executor's job is to make certain to manage you assets, pay your debts, file tax returns, take other steps to wind up your estate, and give the assets to the people you named in your Will. Our office assists with what can be a very burdensome process, specially when moving through the grief of losing a beloved family member and friend.