Divorce and separation can bring out the worst in people. If issues about custody, child support, spousal support, and property division are not properly addressed, the conflict will often escalate. Having competent, local counsel assist you through the process can minimize the stress and lessen the likelihood of future pitfalls with your significant other.
Whether you are a step-parent seeking to adopt your step-child, or are wanting to adopt a relative or just seeking to adopt a child you’ve grown to love, the addition of a child to your family is a wonderful, exciting time. You want to make sure the adoption paperwork is done right and is legal. The statutes regarding adoption are very specific and vary depending on who is doing the adopting. Because parental rights are involved, you should be careful to select an attorney who is experienced in handling adoptions.
Termination of Parental Rights
Terminating someone’s parental rights is a significant legal step and it must be handled with care. The appellate courts have been very busy these last few years with appeals from termination hearings where there are errors in the termination of parental rights process. When there are errors in terminations, lives of children are in upheaval and this can be upsetting to them and to the parents involved. Attorney Mobley is in juvenile court each week and is experienced in the area of termination of parental rights.
Not every custody case has to turn into a “custody battle”. Many parents are able to reach agreements about custody, and just want to confirm their agreement and “get it in writing.” Attorney Mobley can assist you with drawing up a valid legal document to preserve your custody agreement. If you and the other parent can’t agree on custody, it is particularly important for you to find competent, local counsel. From your initial meeting with Attorney Mobley, you will have an understanding of the overall process and how your situation can best be resolved. Whether you are filing for custody or seeking a change in a custody order that has already been entered, Attorney Mobley can advise you about your rights and prepare a plan for meeting your reasonable goals so that you can spend less of your time worrying about the outcome of your case and more time enjoying precious moments with your children.
High Conflict Custody Cases & Parenting Coordinator
When a child custody case is designated as a high conflict custody case, the court can appoint a Parenting Coordinator—on its own motion or at the request of either or both parties—to assist the court in conflict resolution. Attorney Mobley is a certified Parenting Coordinator and accepts cases from all over North Carolina. Attorney Mobley is passionate about her work as a Parenting Coordinator and has seen results in the families she has served.
Child support can be a touchy subject–whether you are the parent paying support or the one receiving support. I find that many of the disputes surrounding child support exist because people do not understand the law governing how support obligations are calculated. Whether you are seeking child support or someone has asked you to pay support or you are trying to collect past-due child support, it is important for you to have an attorney review the information relevant to calculating support so that the amount of support is appropriate under the law and your circumstances. Attorney Mobley can also assist parents who have been contacted by Child Support Enforcement for payment of child support.
Paternity & Legitimization
Children whose fathers are not listed on their birth certificates may have different rights than those bearing a father’s name. Also, fathers who are not listed on a child’s birth certificate may have different rights and responsibilities than if their names were on the birth certificate. If you have questions about paternity or legitimation, Attorney Mobley can advise you about your rights and options.
Separation – Getting started and planning ahead
There are several factors you should consider before you decide to separate from your spouse: where will you live? where will your children live? how will you support yourself? how will you or your spouse support the children? It can be in your best interest to plan a budget and collect copies of important paperwork, including pay stubs, recent bills, information about your investments, bank account statements, details about real estate and personal property, etc.
What qualifies as living separate and apart?
One of you will have to move out of the marital home in order for you to be considered living separate and apart. You both must continue to live separate and apart for one year if you want to seek a divorce in North Carolina. Some people are concerned that moving out may be considered abandonment. Marie Mobley can advise you about options concerning the transition to living separate and apart so that it is not considered abandonment. Some people have spouses that refuse to move out or separate.
What about “separation papers”?
Generally speaking, no paperwork is required for you to separate from your spouse. However, since you can’t file for divorce in North Carolina without living separate and apart from your spouse for at least one year (unless you are seeking a divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity), the period of time between separation and filing for divorce is often a good time to address issues such as child custody and support, spousal support or alimony, and equitable distribution. Marie Mobley can help protect your rights and prepare and negotiate a separation agreement (a.k.a. “separation papers”) that address these and other issues.
Be careful about drafting your own agreement or using store bought separation agreements. By drafting the paperwork yourself and proceeding without the advice of an attorney, you may waive and lose important rights. Store-bought agreements or agreements you find on the internet are often prepared by out of state companies or are not tailored to North Carolina law. if so, they may not be worth the paper they are printed on. On the reverse, a carefully drafted separation agreement can resolve all legal issues associated with the dissolution of a marriage and can be enforced by a court, so that you can move on with your life.
If an agreement doesn’t work?
Sometimes it is necessary to file a lawsuit seeking Child Custody, Child Support, Spousal Support or Alimony, and Equitable Distribution. If a lawsuit is necessary, Marie Mobley will counsel you about your options and guide you through the various processes required for domestic lawsuits North Carolina.
If your spouse’s attorney drafts an agreement?
Your spouse’s attorney has an ethical obligation to represent your spouse and look out for his or her interest. Naturally, you can see why it would be important to have your own attorney looking out for your interests. If your spouse or spouse’s attorney presents you with a separation agreement, make an appointment with Marie Mobley so that she can discuss your options with you and, if retained, represent your interests.
Absolute Divorce – Once you have lived separate and apart for a year and if you or your spouse have been a legal resident of North Carolina for at least six months, you can file for divorce in North Carolina. It is not necessary to show “fault” (such as an extra marital affair) in order to get divorced in North Carolina.
If you have not already addressed issues of child custody, support, spousal support, alimony, and equitable distribution, you can also include these causes of action in the divorce Complaint.
Attorney Mobley handles “simple divorces”–where there are no custody, support, or property issues–for a flat fee. In addition to being inexpensive, she may be able to handle your divorce without your ever having to go to court to testify.
Property Division – Chances are, if you’ve been married, you’ve accumulated assets and debts. Some of these items may be only in your name, only in your spouse’s name, in both of your names, or in somebody else’s name. Regardless of whose name the asset or property is in, you should discuss this issue with an attorney prior to getting divorced. Even where couples agree on who is getting what property and who is paying what debt, they often overlook issues like titles and promissory notes. Attorney Mobley can advise you about these issues so that issues like “whose name is on the car title” don’t rear their ugly heads years down the road. If you and your spouse can’t agree on how to divide your property or debts, Attorney Mobley can help you with that, too. North Carolina provides a cause of action called Equitable Distribution for the Courts to use to classify, value, and distribute property and debts.
Alimony & Post Separation Support – Alimony and Post Sepration Support, unlike child support, is not presumptively determined by a guideline amount set based on your income and your spouse’s income. Whether to award alimony or post separation support, the amount of support, the payment frequency, and the duration are all issues that are very much discretionary with the court after considering a number of factors. Contrary to propular belief, it is not just for women, it is not just for the rich, and it is not just money that is paid because somebody had an affair. Attorney Mobley can help you review a potential alimony and/or Post Separation Support in your situation.