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Fayettville Family Law Blog

Study reveals the dangers of adolescent relationships

Almost half of the women murdered in North Carolina and around the country each year lose their lives at the hands of their current or former intimate partners. The dangers faced by adult women in abusive relationships are widely recognized, but the findings of a study published on April 15 in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics suggest that adolescent girls often face the same perils. Relationship problems among teenagers are often dismissed as just a part of growing up, but the study of police reports, medical examiner findings and coroner's records reveal that they often turn deadly.

The researchers studied the cases of 150 teens killed between 2003 and 2016 by individuals who they knew intimately. A gun was used to commit the crime in 61 percent of these cases, and the perpetrator was 18 years of age or older 80 percent of the time. The most common motives for the killings were jealousy, rejection or a recent breakup. In some of the cases studied, men killed their teenage girlfriends to terminate an unwanted pregnancy or to avoid being charged with statutory rape. The research team concluded that these crimes were often committed in the heat of the moment, and many of them could have been avoided if handguns had not been so easily available.

Joint custody is fast becoming the legal standard

There was a time when family law judges in North Carolina and around the country almost always awarded mothers full custody in divorce cases, but that is no longer true. Shared custody has become far more popular and more common, and judges are now likely to encourage this kind of arrangement. Many courts presume joint legal custody when approaching these issues, and they are generally receptive when petitioned for joint residential or physical custody.

In 2014, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that mothers were granted sole custody of children 80 percent of the time in divorce cases in 1980, but that figure had fallen to just 42 percent by 2008. During the same period, the amount of times judges ordered shared custody arrangements increased from just 5 percent to 27 percent. Equal shared custody gives parents an equal number of nights with their children each month.

Marriages, divorces on the decline

In 2017, North Carolina had the 22nd highest divorce rate in the country with 3.1 divorces per 1,000 residents. The marriage rate was the 23rd highest with 6.8 marriages for every 1,000 residents. Among people 15 and older, 49 percent are married.

The divorce rate in the United States is dropping, but the marriage rate is as well. From 2000 to 2017, the divorce rate dropped from 4 divorces for every 1,000 people to 2.9 divorces. However, the marriage rate also declined in those years. In 2000, there were 8.2 married Americans for every 1,000 people. By 2017, that rate had gone down to 6.9.

Filing taxes and claiming dependents after a divorce

Under normal circumstances, parents in North Carolina can claim dependent children on their taxes without any significant issues. However, this process can become complicated should two divorced parents attempt to claim the same child as a dependent. The ability to claim a child for this reason can lead to some valuable tax credits.

The personal exemption no longer exists because of tax law changes; although, the Dependent Care Credit is still available. The Child Tax Credit has also doubled. In some cases, who may claim these credits is determined by a divorce agreement. In the absence of such arrangements, the IRS considers several factors when determining who can legitimately claim credits.

Domestic violence: Mental and emotional symptoms

When we think about domestic violence, we often focus on the physical symptoms: a black eye, a broken wrist, bruised ribs. We think about the need for medical care and the healing times. We consider just how serious these injuries can be.

And they are serious. You should never overlook that. They deserve attention.

Tax returns can point to financial secrets

Financial issues can be some of the biggest problems that lead people in North Carolina to decide to divorce. In some cases, people may simply disagree about how to save and spend, but even other types of marital issues may have serious financial issues at the root. For example, infidelity may be primarily about trust and sexual exclusivity, but uncovering an affair can also involve a significant amount of spending, including on items like gifts, meals out or hotel rooms.

In particular, financial secrets can be a major contributor to divorce as well as a symptom of people thinking about ending their marriages. When individuals grow unhappy in their marriages, they may begin to hide assets from their spouses in an attempt to avoid dealing with them during the property division process in court. However, tax season also points to an important time of year for accountability. By going through tax documents, people can learn more about their household finances and the accounts in their and their spouse's names. This is especially important when the situation is moving toward divorce or if a separation is already in process.

Finding help to settle a military divorce

Trying to balance military service and the end of a marriage may be difficult for those who are based in North Carolina. Generally speaking, the first step in the divorce process is to find the right legal representation. Those who are on active duty are offered a variety of protections through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The act typically relieves an individual of the duty to respond to civil or other matters while actively serving.

Individuals who are married to someone in the military may have access to free legal advice through the legal assistance offices. While these attorneys don't represent individuals in court or draft documents, they can offer insight into how to go about ending a marriage.

How to avoid common financial errors in a divorce

Knowing about common financial errors during a divorce may help some estranged North Carolina couples avoid making them. One common assumption is that a divorce must end up in court. However, many couples are able to reach an agreement through mediation or collaborative divorce instead of going to litigation, which may be more expensive.

Some assumptions can be costly. People may think that creditors will only pursue an ex-spouse who has agreed to pay a debt, but if it is a joint account, both may be liable. Even if there is no debt associated with a joint account, these should still be closed so that financial ties are severed after the divorce.

Financial reasons to reconsider ending a marriage

For most North Carolina couples, the decision to end a marriage isn't made lightly. While statistics show that approximately half of all first marriages end in divorce, it's usually a combination of factors that lead to the decision to split. As long as instances of spousal abuse or other serious matters aren't involved, spouses contemplating untying the knot may benefit from taking a step back to consider the possible financial ramifications.

The marital home is often sought by one spouse during the divorce process. However, keeping 100 percent of a home with 50 percent of the income can be a big financial challenge for newly single individuals. In some situations, the burden of monthly bills plus household expenses for groceries and other necessities results in the need to take out a loan or add to personal debt obligations. There's also the possibility of losing a house during bankruptcy proceedings if obligations become overwhelming.

Using parenting provisions to manage coparenting relationships

Once you have finalized your divorce settlement and child custody plan, you and the other parent must adhere to the terms of the settlement and child custody plan or face the threat of legal trouble later down the road. However, you could also have legal problems if your child custody plan is too strict or too loose.

It's easy for parents to misinterpret a poorly organized child custody plan and find themselves in a court dispute. Therefore, parents should make a concerted effort to pin down the right kinds of details. This can be achieved with well-thought-out parenting provisions.

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Hardin Law Firm PLLC

Hardin Law Firm PLLC
1314 Raeford Road, Suite D
Fayetteville, NC 28305

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