• Military Divorce

    • My Ex Is Behind on Support Payments. What Options Do I Have to Receive Back Payments?

      If your former spouse is a service member, you can turn to the courts or to your ex’s commanding officer for help. You can file a petition with the court to enforce a support order. The court may demand that your former spouse’s wages be garnished to pay owed support.

      Commanding officers may penalize service members who violate support orders by reducing pay or rank, among other penalties.

    • Can I Keep My Tricare Coverage?

      For former military spouses to remain covered under the Tricare program, they must meet these requirements set by the 20-20-20 rule:

      • They were married for at least 20 years.
      • Their former spouse served for at least 20 years.
      • Their years married and engaged in service overlapped by at least 20 years.

      The 20-20-15 rule provides one year of Tricare benefits to former military spouses who:

      • Were married to a service member for at least 20 years
      • Were married to a service member who served the military for at least 20 years
      • Were married during a former spouse’s 15 years of military service

      Children of service members remain covered by the Tricare program after the divorce if the service member lists them as dependents.

    • What Is the 10-10 Rule?

      The 10-10 rule is used to determine whether the former spouse will receive payments directly from DFAS for a portion of the earned military pension. If you were married to your spouse for at least 10 years and your spouse served in the military for 10 years while married, the military is responsible for paying you the retirement pay so long as the appropriate order is filed.

    • What Is the United Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) And How Can It Help Me After Divorce?

      Congress passed this act to recognize the sacrifices military spouses make during their marriage. The USFSPA allows former spouses of service members to access military benefits, including health care, commissary privileges and military pensions. The type of benefits and sum you are entitled to receive is determined by a variety of factors that are listed below.

    • If I Am Deployed, May I Receive Virtual Visitation Rights?

      In North Carolina, noncustodial parents may remain in contact with their child through electronic communication. Email, video conferencing and instant messaging are all forms of acceptable communication. Judges can set guidelines that determine contact hours, among other issues.

    • If I Am Deployed, Will I Lose Custody of My Children?

      Courts routinely modify child custody orders when a major change in circumstances has occurred. Deployment is an event that meets this standard.

      Divorced service members who are parents may fear that their civilian exes will file for primary custody during deployment. If this is a concern you share, it is wise to meet with an attorney who is experienced in military divorce and understands which SCRA provisions may apply to your circumstances.

      Victoria Hardin has represented military parents for a range of complex custody matters. She will use her substantial knowledge of military divorce laws to design a compelling argument for your custody case. She knows how to help you protect your parenting rights.

    • My Spouse Is Threatening to Divorce Me While I Am Deployed. Does the Law Protect Me Against This Legal Action?

      The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was passed to allow members of the military to focus on their military service while on active duty. If a service member is served with a legal petition, he or she can ask the court to postpone legal proceedings. These postponements can be extended numerous times as long as the service member is engaged in active duty.

  • Property Division

    • What Is a QDRO?

      A QDRO, pronounced “quadro,” is an abbreviation for “qualified domestic relations order.” If you are entitled to receive a portion of your former spouse’s retirement assets, obtaining this court-approved order is one of the first steps you will have to take to access funds. Retirement plan administrators require this decree before they will pay out benefits to individuals who do not own the account.

      It is vital to work with an attorney who understands QDROs because plan administrators do not accept the same form. Failing to provide the necessary information may limit the amount of money you receive and delay your payment.

    • Do I Have to Share My Retirement Accounts With My Spouse?

      If you or your employer made contributions to your retirement plan while you were married, your spouse is entitled to a portion of that money even if the account is in your name only. This is also true for military retirements.

    • What Financial Risks Are Connected to Keeping the Family Home After Separation?

      You may see your family home as the prize of your property division agreement; however, acquiring this property may negatively affect your finances. Before you take sole ownership, you should consider the financial implications of owning and maintaining a home without two incomes. You may have a sentimental attachment to your family home, but do you have the resources to pay your mortgage, utilities and repair fees?

      When you are transitioning to a new stage in your life, your ability to succeed may be hampered by your financial obligations. An experienced attorney can help you determine if fighting over your house is a battle you want to wage.

    • Will I Have to Move Out of My House to Get a Divorce?

      North Carolina divorce laws require spouses to live in separate residences for a year and a day before they can divorce. If your spouse will not move out of your home, it will be up to you to move. This step is necessary even if you owned your home before you married, making this separate property.

      Vacating your home does not mean that you give up your right to the house. The court can still grant you the home in your property settlement.

    • I Owned My House Before the Marriage. Will I Be Able to Keep This Property After I Divorce?

      If you did not add your spouse’s name to the deed, changing ownership of the house during the marriage, the house will remain your separate property if you divorce.

      During your marriage, if you contributed marital funds to pay your mortgage or remodel your home, your spouse may be entitled to be reimbursed for those contributions.

    • What Is Marital Property and How Is It Different From Separate Property?

      Marital property refers to assets and debts that you and your spouse acquire during your marriage. If you and your spouse have purchased a house and are both named on the deed, this is marital property. In addition, income you and your spouse earn over the course of your marriage is considered marital property

      Possessions that you owned before you married are considered separate property as are inherited assets and gifts.

      Determining which property is jointly owned and which is individually owned can become difficult when ownership is not easily defined. A qualified divorce lawyer knows how to analyze assets and property so that your interests are protected throughout this process.

    • What Can an Attorney Do for Me?

      It is risky to rely on a judge’s order to divide assets and property. Using the court to resolve your dispute removes your control over the outcome and gives that control to the judge. What the judge sees as an equitable or fair distribution may not seem fair to you.

      Finding solutions outside the court, through negotiation, can help you retain more control over the process, keep your conflict private and save you money. Working with an attorney can help you navigate this process, inform you of options that may affect the terms of the property division agreement and help negotiate a fair agreement.

  • Child Custody

    • I Am Concerned That My Child’s Divorce Will Affect My Relationship With My Grandchildren. What Visitation Rights Do Grandparents

      Grandparents should not be left out of the picture in the wake of a divorce. If you are a grandparent with concerns about your role in your grandchild’s life, we can help you explore your options.

    • Can I Relocate With My Children?

      Relocation can be difficult. If your ex objects to the relocation, you will have to prove to a judge that this move is in the best interests of the child. Judges have a great deal of discretion in child custody matters, and no one can guarantee that your judge will allow you to move. Hiring a lawyer who is familiar with the previous rulings of area judges can help you establish an argument that supports their interpretation of North Carolina’s relocation guidelines.

    • I Am Worried That My Children Are Not Safe Under My Ex’s Custody. What Can I Do to Protect Them?

      If you believe that your former spouse has a substance abuse problem, is abusing your children or is engaging in other activities that may harm your children, you can file a petition for an emergency custody modification. Depending on the circumstances, law enforcement and/or the Department of Social Services should also be contacted.

    • If My Ex and I Have Agreed to Change the Terms of the Custody Arrangement, Do We Really Need to Get a Court-Ordered Modification

      Yes. While you and your former spouse may agree to adapt your parenting duties to suit a new schedule, any agreement you make is not enforceable. If your spouse decides to ignore these revisions, the court order is still binding.

    • What Life Changes Justify a Modification?

      North Carolina courts allow parents to petition to change or enforce existing custody orders. When life-changing circumstances arise, the terms of a custody order can be modified to serve the best interests of the child. These circumstances may include a decline in the parent-child relationship, a change in a parent’s work schedule, a relocation or unsafe living conditions.

    • Do I Have to Go Through Mediation?

      North Carolina laws require parents to participate in mediation before they can litigate permanent child custody matters. You will meet with a third-party mediator who is not a lawyer.

      You should have an attorney review your custody agreement before you sign it. Retaining an attorney to spot problematic conditions in your custody arrangement can save you time and money down the road.

    • Does Shared Custody Affect Child Support?

      Yes, it can. For the most part, two worksheets for calculating child support are used: worksheet A — sole custody and worksheet B — shared custody. If you have custody for your child for 123 or more overnights in year, you will use worksheet B, which will result in lower child support payments than worksheet A.

    • Do Judges Favor Mothers Over Fathers in Custody Hearings?

      No. The courts believe both parents should be a part of their child’s life. The courts study each family’s circumstances before ruling on custody arrangements. In certain situations, such as with military families, a service member’s military obligations may affect his or her ability to care for a child. If deployment is a possibility, judges will take that into account.

      At Hardin Law Firm PLLC, we can help you understand your parenting rights so you know what is possible and what is realistic in terms of custody and visitation.

  • Divorce

    • Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Divorced?

      You can obtain a divorce in North Carolina by completing forms that are available online. While you can save the expense of hiring a lawyer, a do-it-yourself divorce can be costly in other ways now and later. Trying to fix a problem in a settlement or court orders is far more expensive than doing it right the first time.

      Without a lawyer’s advice, you might not know what you are entitled to have in your property settlement. If your child custody agreement has not been properly incorporated into your divorce degree, you may not be able to modify it later.

    • Can I Stop Alimony Payments if My Ex Moves in With Someone?

      If your former spouse remarries or cohabits with another adult, you will no longer be responsible for paying alimony. For adults to cohabit, they must display characteristics that are similar to those of a married couple. Some of these aspects include sharing financial responsibilities and residence. The relationship need not be sexual in nature.

    • Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

      It is up to the court’s discretion to determine whether one spouse has to pay support to the other and the amount of these payments. In the past, husbands were often the primary wage earners in the household. Today, this is not always the case. If the wife supports the husband, she may be responsible for providing alimony payments.

      Since the court uses no set formula to establish spousal support obligations, it is vital to work with an attorney who is familiar with how area judges have ruled in similar cases. Using this legal insight, your lawyer can tailor a persuasive case for the presiding judge and anticipate arguments opposing counsel may make.

    • What Information Should I Bring to an Initial Divorce Consultation?

      Preparing for an initial consultation can help you receive the most benefit from your time with an attorney. Before your meeting, write down any questions you have about the legal process, the attorney’s background or legal fees. Don’t rely on your memory to provide a specific list of questions on the spot.

      If you have prior orders or have been served with court documents, bring those to the consultation. Provide any legal documents that may support your case or set restrictions on terms you can request. If you have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, your attorney needs to read this contract.

    • When Does the Court Require Parties to Participate in Mediation Sessions?

      In North Carolina, parents are ordered to mediate custody disputes before they can litigate matters in court. North Carolina also requires parties to meet with a mediator for property division issues as well.

      If a child custody or property agreement cannot be reached using mediation, estranged spouses can argue their case in court.

    • What Does ‘Uncontested Divorce’ Mean?

      The date of separation is not at issue in an uncontested divorce. If one party does not respond to a divorce petition, the spouse who filed the petition may take appropriate steps to terminate the divorce.

  • Military Divorce

    • If I Am a Service Member Stationed Out of State, Where Do I File for Divorce?

      If your spouse has lived in North Carolina for at least six months and you have lived in separate residences for over a year, you may file for divorce in the state.

  • Property Division

    • What Does ‘Equitable Distribution’ Mean?

      North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means marital possessions are divided in a way that is fair. This often means 50-50, but a judge could determine that a different percentage is fair.

      Matters can become complex because a range of factors is considered when determining which spouse receives what. Factors that may affect the outcome of property division negotiations include length of marriage, each spouse’s income and each spouse’s contribution to the family’s success, among other aspects. Since each family’s circumstances are different, how property and assets are divided may vary according to the situation.

  • Child Custody

    • What Criteria Do Judges Use When They Determine Custody?

      North Carolina judges are guided by the “best interest of the child” standard when they assign parental responsibilities. Many factors determine whether a custody agreement supports children affected by divorce and eases the transition to life after divorce. Judges often consider the status quo of the child. Judges may take these points, among others, into consideration:

      1. Does the agreement encourage stability in the child’s life?
      2. Will the agreement promote the child’s physical, emotional, mental and educational needs?
      3. Does the custodial parent have a history of substance abuse or domestic violence?
      4. Will the custody agreement foster a network of support for the child?
  • Divorce

    • What Does It Mean to Live Separately for One Year?

      Before you can get divorced, you and your spouse must live apart for one year. This means that you must live in two separate homes or apartments. The courts do not recognize living arrangements in which one spouse sleeps on a couch or lives in a separate room.

      While you will not need to file a separation agreement with the court, it is helpful to talk with a qualified attorney to determine what living arrangements qualify as living separately and which do not. Taking this step can help you avoid making a mistake that can “start the clock over” and delay the divorce process.

    • What Is an Absolute Divorce?

      In North Carolina, a married couple needs to fulfill certain requirements before they can begin divorce procedures. They need to live in separate households for 12 months and one day. In addition, one spouse needs to live in North Carolina for at least six months before filing. After this time has passed, they can apply for absolute divorce, which severs the marriage bond.

      Before the divorce can be finalized, however, terms for property division, child custody, child support and alimony must be approved.

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