Experienced Charlotte Family Law Lawyers Serving Spouses During Trying Times
In family law matters, the stakes are often high; a decision handed down by a judge could forever change your life, the life of your child, and your future. For this reason, amongst others, hiring a family law attorney when faced with certain legal matters is within your best interest.
Because each family law matter is entirely unique, you want a professional family law attorney on your side who is committed to working for you, and for doing the work that your case requires. Whether you are in the middle of a divorce, property division disagreement, child custody determination, child support determination, alimony and post-separation support decision, pre-marital and separation agreement formation, adoption, wills and estate planning, or if you are the victim of domestic violence, it is important that your legal advocate is someone who is both experienced in your specific case type, and passionate about your case being resolved in your favor.
At Remington & Dixon, PLLC, our Charlotte, North Carolina family law lawyers have the qualities you need to handle any of these types of cases.
Divorce Lawyers That Protect Your Rights
Divorce can be a complicated and emotional legal matter for many. First and foremost, if you wish to file for a divorce, you must be sure that your marriage meets the grounds for divorce dictated by state law. Your divorce lawyer will advise that there are two grounds for divorce in North Carolina per North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 50: Divorce and Alimony:
- Incurable insanity; and
- Separation of one year.
Usually, it is the second grounds for divorce—separation of a duration of at least one year—under which most couples file. Additionally, you must be a resident of the state of North Carolina for no less than six months in order to file for divorce.
If the grounds for divorce have been satisfied in your case, you and your divorce lawyer must file a divorce complaint and summons with the court, and then serve this summons to your spouse.
The divorce itself is not the most complex part of a divorce proceeding; however, you and your spouse will need to come to a determination about how property will be divided, with whom your children will live, whether or not an alimony payment is appropriate, and more. An experienced family law attorney knows most couples cannot settle these matters amicably on their own, hearings are often necessary. During this hearing, a judge will hear both parties’ sides and then issue a legally binding court order.
Equitable Distribution and Property Division
When a couple is living separately from one another, one party in the relationship may file a claim for equitable distribution. In a divorce, a court will divide property equitably.
In North Carolina, the state considers that property that was “acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of separation of the parties,” as marital property, per NCGS section 50-20. All marital property is subject to equitable distribution.
It is important to note that equitable distribution is not always equal distribution. In order to make an equitable property determination, the court shall consider the following factors:
- Income, property, and liabilities of both parties;
- Any financial support obligations from a previous marriage;
- The need of the custodial parent to use certain property (such as the family home);
- Pension, retirement, and other funds of both parties;
- Contribution of either spouse to the education of the other;
- Contribution of either spouse to an increase of value in a separate property;
- All marital property owned by the couple;
- Tax consequences to both parties;
- Distribution of property through intestate succession laws;
- Business and interest assets; and
- Any other factors that the court deems to be relevant to equitable distribution.
Not only can we aid you in understanding what equitable distribution means and what an equitable distribution of property may look like, but we can also help you to uncover hidden assets in a divorce, to protect important family heirlooms, and to ensure that your property division order is as fair as possible.
Child Custody Lawyer & Child Support
For parents, one of the most emotional aspects of family law can be that of child custody and child support. In North Carolina, a court is obligated to make a child custody determination that considers the best interests of the child. The law, section 50-13.2 of North Carolina General Statutes, reads that the court “shall consider all relevant factors including acts of domestic violence,” the child’s safety, and the safety of either party. A seasoned Charlotte child custody lawyer will explain that neither a mother nor a father is naturally favored by North Carolina’s child custody laws; rather, child custody will be awarded to the parent who best promotes the child’s welfare.
Typically, the non-custodial parent is the parent who is responsible for making child support payments, as both parents are legally responsible for making financial contributions on the child’s behalf. A court will make a child support determination based on the needs of the child, the earning and income of both parties, the child’s standard of living, and any other relevant factors.
Not only can our child custody lawyers guide you through the child custody and child support process and advocate on your behalf, but we can also help you to enforce a child support order in the event that your child’s other parent has not paid a child support payment that you are entitled to under the law. If you have fears about not getting custody of your child, have questions about child support orders, or need to modify a child custody or child support order, a Charlotte child support lawyer is here to help.
Seek Post-Separation Support With Your Alimony Lawyer
In the event that a couple divorces or separates, one party in the marriage may be entitled to spousal support payments, also known as alimony. The court may award alimony to the financially dependent spouse, to be paid by the financially independent spouse, in the event that the court finds an alimony payment to be equitable after considering all relevant factors (NCGS Section 50-16.3).
An alimony lawyer will recognize that in North Carolina, “all relevant factors” that a court may consider when making an alimony determination are many.
- Marital misconduct of either spouse;
- Earning of each spouse and earning capacities;
- Emotional, physical, and mental conditions of both spouses;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Contribution of each spouse to the other;
- Custody of children/child support obligations;
- Standard of living of each spouse;
- Education of each spouse;
- Assets and liabilities of each spouse;
- Property of each spouse brought to the marriage;
- Contributions as a homemaker;
- Needs of each spouse; and
- Tax consequences of an alimony order.
In the event that any illicit sexual behavior occurred during the marriage or prior to the date of separation, this may affect a dependent spouse and their alimony lawyer’s ability to receive an alimony award.
Pre-Marital & Separation Agreements
Many couples opt to form a pre-marital agreement about what will happen in the event that the couple separates or divorce. This agreement is commonly referred to as a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement addresses important issues in a marriage and divorce, such as how property will be divided and what an alimony amount will be. It is important to note that the rights regarding a child (child custody and child support) cannot be addressed by a prenuptial agreement.
There are many reasons why an adoption order may need to be sought from the court. In some cases, a couple may want to adopt a child that is not biologically related to either parent, a relative may want to adopt a child whose parents are deceased or have waived their parental rights, an individual in a same-sex marriage may want to adopt his or her partner’s child, or a stepparent may want to adopt his or her spouse’s biological child. For all of the above reasons for pursuing an adoption, the guidance of a legal professional is a necessity.
An adoption decree establishes a parent-child relationship between the party seeking adoption (the petitioner) and the individual who is being adopted. When an adoption is completed then the petitioner has all of the parental rights as would the biological parent of a child. Furthermore, an adoption also completely terminates the rights of one or both of the child’s previous adoptive parents or biological parents – depending on the type of adoption sought.
Filing a petition for adoption is a lengthy court procedure that can take multiple months to resolve. An adoption can further be complicated by a number of other factors, such as a child’s citizenship, the parental rights of a living parent, a contested petition, the child’s wishes, guardianship of the child, and more.
At Remington & Dixon, PLLC, our family law attorneys understand how important your adoption is to you. We have advocated for countless families during the adoption process and will work hard for you.
Wills & Estate Planning Documents
No one likes to think about what will happen to their property and assets upon their death. However, while it may be unpleasant to think about, the truth is that planning for your estate now can help to ensure that your assets are divided per your wishes upon your death. If you die without a will or other estate planning documents, your property will be divided per North Carolina’s intestate succession laws, found in North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 29.
These laws stipulate that:
- If you have a spouse but no children, your spouse will get everything;
- If you have children but no spouse; your children will get everything;
- If you have both a spouse and children, your spouse inherits the first $60,000 of your personal property and then the remaining balance is divided between your spouse and children;
- If you have both a spouse and surviving parents but no children, your spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your personal property plus half of the remaining balance; and
- If you have neither surviving spouse nor children, your parents inherit everything.
A family law attorney can help you to create a plan for your assets that follow your wishes and will guide you through the process of creating a will and testament, a living will, a living trust, understanding power of attorney, and more.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders
When you or someone in your home is in danger of violence from another person within your home, it is important that you seek safety as soon as possible. As soon as you are in a safe location, call our law firm for help in filing a domestic violence protective order. This civil order is a type of legal protection that prohibits the abusive party from harassing you or interfering with your business, traveling to your place of residence or work, and more. A domestic violence protective order can also give you temporary custody of your children and may require your spouse to temporarily pay spousal or child support as well.
There are two types of domestic violence protective orders in North Carolina: an ex parte order, which is a temporary protective order, and a final domestic violence protective order, which is also known as a restraining order. Our attorneys can help you to understand what actions may warrant a domestic violence protective order, how to file a petition for a domestic violence protective order, and advise you in regards to other legal actions that you may consider taking (i.e. filing for uncontested divorce, etc.).
Contact A Charlotte, North Carolina Family Law Attorney Today
Remington & Dixon, PLLC is a family law firm focused on top-tier advocacy for the families we represent.
Within the umbrella of family law exists several elements which can bring a family in court. These include:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Prenups & Postnups
- Property Settlement
Whatever the need, Remington & Dixon, PLLC will fight for your family. Don’t let any garden-variety attorney handle your divorce case. Get the family law representation you deserve.
Jennifer Dixon is a Charlotte Divorce Lawyer working for Charlotte families at reasonable costs. Her experience in the courtroom allows her to fiercely advocate for your family.
Don’t delay. Call Remington Dixon, PLLC’s Charlotte office today for your consultation and peace-of-mind.
Charlotte Divorce Lawyer
When the contract of marriage ends, a family’s path to healing is only beginning. If you and your partner are getting a divorce, it means one of the following could have happened:
- Forced Removal from Residence
- Intolerable Life Conditions
- Cruel and Dangerous Treatment from Spouse
- Partner’s Substance Abuse
If you’ve experienced any of previously listed factors, you may have grounds for a form of legal separation called divorce from bed and board.
North Carolina also allows for a no-fault divorce if you and your partner have been physically separated in different residences for at least one year and if at least one of you has lived in North Carolina for at least six months.
Mediation is an Option
If there is room for reconciliation, mediation is possible for a couple in North Carolina. Whether it be court-ordered or agreed upon, mediation can help resolve issues and save money for a couple. A trial in family court can run five-figures depending on the case.
If you and your partner do go to court, all financial and other information will be spilled out. A judge will have the final say on all decisions made, leaving autonomy out of the hands of the divorcing couple.
Child Custody in Charlotte
When it comes to divorce, custody and visitation times of children is consistently one of the highest contested issues. Custody is broken down into two categories:
- Legal Custody: Right to make significant decisions about the child
- Physical Custody: Right for a certain amount of time with the child in your physical location.
Under physical custody, it can be further broken down into two more categories:
- Primary Custody: The child will spend the majority of the time living at one parent’s home
- Joint Custody: The child will spend equal, or close to equal, time at both parents’ home
Under legal custody, it can be further broken down into two more categories:
- Sole Custody: A parent can make significant decisions without consulting the other parent
- Joint Custody: Requires input from both parents on any life decision for the child
Know the law doesn’t prefer men over women or vice versa. And it is left up to the judge to award a specific type of custody.
How Do I Win Sole, Physical Custody of My Child?
Ultimately the judge will decide in “the best interests of the child.” A judge will factor in the following:
- Quality of Living Arrangements
- Child’s Relationship with Parents
- Other Factors Related to Parenting
Once a custody decision is made, the road doesn’t end there. Custody is modifiable and can change depending on life circumstances for the parents.
Child Support in North Carolina
Both parents are responsible for providing child support in North Carolina. How much support each parent offers depends on the following factors:
- Number of Children
- Custody Arrangement
The formulas for calculating these amounts depends on the kind of custody a parent has. Sole, shared, and split custody each has its factors. You can read more about those formulas here.
What Goes Into a Child Support Payment?
Direct payments play the primary factor in child support. Other fees come in the form of childcare costs, medical care, or anything else related to taking care of a child.
Your income is broken down into the following factors when determining how much support you can give:
- Capital Gains
- Worker’s Comp
Other factors will come into play, as well. It’s critical you hire a family law attorney who can make sure this income gets protection in the case of a nasty child support hearing.
Prenups and Postnups
Whether you enter a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, both outline a set of rules governing a potential divorce. It’s a touchy subject for most couples. A prenup carries a stigma of distrust between partners.
It’s not always an issue of trust. Prenups and postnups are a sound idea for anyone in the following situations:
- One or both partners have a family business
- One partner has a debt severely outweighing the other’s
- One partner is giving up a lucrative career
- There are children for a previous marriage
A prenup or postnup allows for transparency when both partners have valuable assets. It’s always best practice for both sides to be fully transparent about finances before entering marriage.
Prenups vs. Postnups?
Prenups and postnups accomplish the same thing. Prenups occur before the marriage, and postnups happen during the marriage.
Postnups are slightly unusual but do occur in some circumstances. It’s best to trust a family law attorney experienced in handling delicate situations like these.
Property Settlements and Separation
Property settlements refer to items of substantial value owned by either party in a marriage. These possessions can include:
- Cars, Boats, and Aircraft
- Real Estate
- Retirement Accounts
- Antiques and Memorabilia
These pieces of personal property further divide into two types: marital and separate. Separate property is possessions bought before marriage, while marital property is purchased during the marriage.
When a couple decides to separate, they have to agree on what property goes where. Property distribution can be a nasty aspect of divorce, especially when the property involved has outstanding value.
As in the case of many family law situations, mediation is the best recourse for property settlements.
Once a division of property dispute goes to court, there will be mounting fees and costs with no guarantee the judge will issue a favorable judgment. Your divorce mediation attorney will be vital in helping guide a decision to go to court or mediation.
Alimony in North Carolina
Alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, are payments made to a partner to help maintain the life they had while married.
A Charlotte family court will look at the following factors when determining alimony:
- Grounds for Divorce/Separation
- The Income of Both Parties
- Property Division
- Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
Alimony can change over time, depending on life circumstances. Alimony isn’t meant to be a punishment for either party. Moreover, there is no time limit (length of marriage) required to receive alimony.
A top-flight family law attorney can make sure you secure the proper amount of support following a divorce.
How Do I Find a Charlotte Family Law Attorney
If you need a family law attorney in Charlotte who handles all aspects of a family dispute, call (704) 247-7110 and ask to schedule an appointment with Jennifer Dixon.
One-half of the namesake of Remington Dixon, PLLC, Jennifer Dixon is a Super Lawyer’s Rising Star and an AVVO’s Client’s Choice Award Winner for Family Law in Charlotte. She has won the trust of our clients as an advocate, so let her gain your confidence too.
Whether it’s a divorce, child custody dispute, alimony disagreement or property settlement mediation — you can trust Jennifer Dixon or Remington Dixon, PLLC to be an advocate for you and your family.
Call (704) 247-7110 today or stop by the office at 135 Perrin Place Suite 200 in Charlotte to schedule a consultation on your family law matters.