At Austin Law Firm, we represent clients in Indian Trail, North Carolina and throughout Union, Mecklenburg, and Anson Counties in all areas of family law. We provide our clients with efficient and effective legal representation, including litigation and mediation, in:
- Divorce, including contested and uncontested/simple divorces
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Equitable distribution of the marital property
- Alimony/Spousal support
- Modifications of divorce, child custody, visitation, and support orders
North Carolina Divorce Laws
In North Carolina, the primary grounds for seeking a divorce is separation after one year, meaning that a married couple has been living apart in separate residences for one year and at least one of the spouses intends to stay separated. Once a couple has been separated for a year, a divorce proceeding may be initiated by the filing of a legal document called a Complaint, which must be served on the other spouse.
For the divorce proceedings to be complete, a judge must enter a final order. The total amount of time it will take to complete a divorce proceeding will vary greatly depending upon whether the divorce is contested and the extent of the parties' disagreements regarding financial and other concerns. The judge's final order will include orders addressing child custody and visitation, child support, property division, and alimony (or spousal support). These orders may sometimes be modified at a later date where there are changed circumstances.
Child Custody & Support
In making custody and visitation determinations, the court will take into consideration the best interests and welfare of the child and can award joint custody, custody to one parent, and visitation rights, including grandparent visitation.
Regardless of custody arrangements, both parents are responsible for the financial support of their minor child. Child support payments are determined according to North Carolina's established child support guidelines, and must be sufficient to meet the needs of the child's health, education, and maintenance, and take into account the parents' estates, earnings, the accustomed standard of living during the marriage, and the child care and homemaker contributions of each party.
Property Division & Spousal Support
"Marital property" is property acquired during the marriage and before separation, including wages and unvested and vested retirement and pension benefits. In North Carolina, the court will generally divide the marital property equally based on its net worth, unless an equal division would be inequitable (or unfair). The court will take into account many factors in making property division orders, such as the length of the marriage and the income, property, and liabilities of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective. The court will sometimes award one spouse "post-separation support" (also known as alimony or spousal support) based on the party's financial needs, taking into account the spouses' accustomed standard of living, and the present recurring earnings and income of each party.
Issues related to child custody and visitation, child support, equitable division of marital property, alimony, and other contested issues can also be resolved out of court in a voluntary mediation proceeding. Mediation proceedings are generally more efficient and cost-effective than traditional court proceedings, and agreements reached during the mediation can be presented to the court for incorporation into the court's final divorce order, which is still required to legally finalize the divorce.
Seek Experienced Family Law Lawyers
At Austin Law Firm, we can help you resolve any divorce, child custody, support, paternity or other family law matter to protect your best interests and the best interests of your family. To speak with our experienced family law attorneys, contact us today at (866) 322-0988.