A divorce is always a taxing event. It’s possible for you to represent yourself in a divorce, but there is so much nuance and technicality in divorce cases that it would be better to focus on getting back into the swing of things and work with a lawyer to get the best possible outcome. Even then, there’s a lot that you and your lawyer need to think about in terms of who gets what, how something is divided, and potentially child custody. Each of these issues has its own considerations and regulations to consider, which is why it’s important to get an attorney on your side that is knowledgeable and trustworthy. You’ll need quick, frequent updates to stay on top of the situation and ensure that you can the best outcome that you can get. You’ll also need an attorney who is willing and able to negotiate on your behalf and knows exactly what you want.

At the Matheson Law Office, we can proudly say that we can offer you all of these things. We can answer all of your questions regarding the process and the aftermath, which includes alimony negotiation, post separation support, and equitable distribution negotiation. With divorce, there’s enough to worry about without wondering if your attorney is doing what they should be.

Equitable Distributions

Divisible Property

Typically, this is generally any appreciation or diminution in value of property that is a result of the efforts of a party or passive appreciation or diminution which should be counted for the spouse petitioning for it. This appreciation or diminution in value occurs after the date of separation but prior to the date of distribution. An example of this kind of property can include interest or dividends on certain property.

Martial Property

This is generally defined as all of the property that has been acquired between the spouses throughout the duration of the marriage. Always remember that is can also include marital debt (i.e. a mortgage). Equitable distribution can quickly become a complicated matter if it is not handled carefully. In order to approach an equitable distribution claim the first thing you should know is that there is a presumption that an equal division is equitable. If you feel like you are entitled to more than your presumed share, it is your duty to show the court why.

Separate Property

This property means all real and personal property acquired by the spouse before the marriage or acquired by a spouse by devise, descent, or gift during the course of the marriage (NCGS 50-20(2)). The only thing to remember here is, that it is only going to be considered separate property if that was the intent at the time of the conveyance.

If you would like to assert that an equal division of the aforementioned property is inequitable, then there are 12 factors that the court will look to in order to make this determination. Some of the factors include, but are not limited to, income and liabilities of each party at the time the division of the property becomes effective, duration of the marriage, age, and the physical and mental health of both parties, and any direct or indirect contribution made by one spouse to help educate or develop the career potential of the other spouse. A full list of the factors the court looks to can be found in North Carolina General Statute §50-20(c).

Because these cases can get complicated very quickly it is always best to involve a family law attorney from the start so as to make sure all of your interests and your rights are protected throughout the duration of this case.

Alimony

A claim for alimony is similar to a claim for post-separation support. The difference is that post-separation support is intended to last until it has been ordered to be terminated or until a finding for alimony. Either party may bring a claim for alimony. According to North Carolina General Statute §50-16.3A, the court shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable after considering all relevant factors.

Some of the factors when making a determination for alimony includes, but is not limited to, illicit sexual conduct between the parties, the contribution of the dependent spouse to the supporting spouse for any education or training to increase the supporting spouses earning capacity, the standard of living between the spouses established during the marriage, and several others which may be applicable depending on your case (a complete list of factors can be found in NCGS §50-16.3A).

As with Post-Separation Support, it is best to discuss your situation with an attorney so you can have a full understanding of your claim and what you may or may not be entitled to.

Post-Separation Support

What is post-separation support? Post-separation support is the amount of money that a supporting spouse is ordered to pay a dependent spouse from the date of separation until a hearing for alimony occurs or until another ground for termination of this award occurs (see termination).   Generally, the court must find that there is a supporting spouse and a dependent spouse, that the dependent spouse has a need for money in the interim, and that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay. A judge can consider marital misconduct between the parties after separation.

Marital misconduct doesn’t only mean illicit sexual behavior. Marital misconduct can also include, but is not limited to, factors like wasting the martial property (i.e. spending all of the money in the bank account on frivolous things), abandonment of the other spouse, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome (a complete list of other things that will count as marital misconduct can be found in North Carolina General Statute §50-16.1A(3).

While looking at the statute is helpful, it is always best to consult with an attorney who has a thorough understanding of the law and who can help you discuss your situation in detail and to help you with your next steps.

Child Support

North Carolina Courts all have the same goal in mind when it comes making a child support determination: that the payments for child support shall be awarded in such amount as to meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the childcare and homemaker contributions of the parties and the facts of a particular case. This is addressed in North Carolina General Statute 15-13.4(c).

As a result, the courts have created something known as presumptive guidelines which take into account these factors and provide for a standard payment scheme depending on all sources of income and earning abilities of the parties. The courts may deviate from these standard numbers and from this scheme in general at the request of either party, but that is going to require a showing that the applications of these guidelines will not meet the reasonable needs of the child.

The court can award child support to be paid in lump sum payments or even require that some property be given in exchange for what is owed, but the most standard form of support is the monthly payments paid to the spouse that petitioned for it if the judge determines that support is necessary.

An award for child support can be very fact specific and you should reach out to an attorney to help you understand what, if any, liability you may have for child support.