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Fayettville Family Law Blog

Summertime can create problems with custody schedules

Most North Carolina parents view the approach of summer with mixed feelings. While there will soon be a break from the pressures of early morning wake-up, homework and other school-related obligations, summer means the kids will have a lot of free time on their hands. This can be especially difficult for children of divorce who are splitting time between two homes and will likely have a different custody arrangement for at least part of the summer break. It's important for parents to be aware of the issues and cooperate to minimize the potential conflicts that may result.

Family relationship experts can explain how good co-parenting skills should not cease when the divorce is final; these skills are in many ways more important when the kids are sharing time in two households. For whatever reason the marriage didn't work out, the children are not responsible and should experience as little stress as possible. The biggest things that the parents can do are to communicate with each other, be realistic about expectations and inform the kids of the game plan.

Factors to consider when determining to keep the home in divorce

When North Carolina couples decide to divorce, determining how their marital property will be divided can be a difficult process. In many cases, determining what to do with the family home can be one of the hardest decisions to make, especially if one person wants to keep the family home. Before any final decisions are made, there are some important factors that should be considered.

One of the most important factors that should be considered is how much equity the divorcing couple has in the home. Determining the amount of equity the former couple has in the family home is important as the person who wants to maintain ownership of the home will owe a certain percentage of the equity to the former spouse.

Insurance changes can come with divorce

When people in Florida decide to divorce, they can encounter a range of financial questions and challenges. While many people are aware of the effects of property division and other major issues, fewer may think about the consequences of divorce for their insurance situation. Divorce can lead to several significant changes in insurance coverage, especially when it comes to life and health insurance. Most of these changes should be handled promptly after the dissolution of the marriage is finalized.

In terms of health insurance, it is common for one spouse to receive coverage through a policy provided through the other spouse's employer. After the divorce, the spouse with this plan will need to report the change in status promptly to the insurance company, leaving the remaining spouse in need of coverage. Divorce is a qualifying life event that allows people to enroll in the coverage provided by their own employers or to seek out a new plan on the government marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. COBRA allows a former spouse to remain on an insurance policy for three years after a divorce, but the associated premiums can be far more costly than the available alternatives.

Is it time to ask the courts to modify your alimony payments?

Divorce has a way of affecting your life for quite some time. Couples without children may hope for a clean break, but that isn't always possible. Even if you divorced several years ago, you could still have to deal with the financial consequences of that divorce. Ongoing spousal support, also called alimony, is sometimes the result of divorce proceedings.

If your spouse didn't work outside of the home and wasn't able to support themselves at the time of the divorce, the North Carolina family courts could order support as a way to help them make ends meet. They could do the same if your spouse has medical issues that prevent the development of a career.

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.

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Hardin Law Firm PLLC

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

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