Preparing for Marriage
Even though you might know your spouse, you can never be too careful when entering a marriage, which is a binding, legal contract in the eyes of the law – not just God. This is especially true when you have a lot of financial accounts or other types of assets to your name. You want to protect your interests and make sure they stay with you in the event that you file for divorce.
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement (signed after you say “I do” and while you are still happily married) will outline how property is to be divided in the event of a divorce.
Separation Agreements and Filing for Divorce
Separation agreements are important legal documents that couples sign when they no longer wish to share a life together. This agreement goes into effect upon being signed by both parties, prior to filing for divorce. Even though North Carolina law recognizes married couples as separate so long as they don’t live in the same residence, it’s always a good idea to speak with a family lawyer near me in Winston Salem, NC, about putting a separation agreement in place.
The separation agreement makes note of the final day of your recognized relationship so that any assets or property acquired from that point forward is viewed as separate property and cannot be divided if you end up going to court.
North Carolina recognizes what’s known as an absolute divorce. An absolute divorce is when your marriage is terminated. It can be filed no sooner than one year and a day after being separated from your spouse or if insurable insanity on the part of one spouse is present. Physical proof of your separation is not required but you will still need to know the date you separated from your spouse. That is one reason why having a separation agreement in place is so important. Additionally, having a separation agreement prior to divorce is important because if you do not, you will lose your claim to a division of the marital assets, spousal support, or alimony forever unless you file a claim with the court before the absolute divorce is granted.
Child Support and Alimony
Child support and alimony (post-separation spousal support) are two important areas of family law in Winston Salem, NC, that the team at Apple Payne Law can assist within your life. Whether you are an unmarried parent or recently divorced, it’s understandable that you might need support in caring for your child. Having just one income or not being able to work due to having to care for your child can be challenging.
Here’s how child support payments are handled in North Carolina:
- Custody category
- The gross income of both parents
- Payments are ordered by the court until the child reaches the age of 18
- Changes can be requested by either parent after support has been ordered
- Parents can agree to continue to pay support after 18 for college by contract
Alimony is a form of support paid by one former spouse to the other after separation. This agreement can be reached by the former spouses if they can come to specific terms. If not, the dependent spouse (who needs the support) can ask a court to award post-separation support and alimony. The court can require payments over a specific amount of time, up to a specific amount, or until a party dies or if the dependent spouse remarries or cohabitates.
These payments do not last forever and often stop after a set period or may be modified if the dependent spouse is able to find employment. The payments can be made weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or in a lump sum. The court may take the following factors into account when determining spousal support:
- Mental, physical, and emotional health
- Marriage length
- Income and potential income
- Educational levels of each spouse
- Tax consequences
- Spousal liabilities
- Ability to pay
Adoption and Emancipation
The adoption process is emotional no matter the situation. Whether you are adopting from another family or an agency, or are adopting a stepchild, the process is challenging and lengthy. Family law in Winston Salem, NC, attorneys from Apple Payne Law understands the legal challenges families face when trying to adopt and can be there for you every step of the way.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s emancipation, which is when a child under 18 wants to make their own decisions, own a home, rent a home, make decisions regarding their healthcare, and much more. A child can become emancipated from their parents with the help of a family lawyer near me in North Carolina.