Divorce Lawyer Puzzle

Why and When You Need a Divorce Lawyer

When a marriage is ending, it can be tremendously difficult to deal with both the emotional trauma and your fears about how life will go on after a divorce. The legal guidelines surrounding divorce lead to additional concerns. Questions like, “Do I need a divorce lawyer to file for divorce?” and, “What can a divorce lawyer help me with?” are common, along with many others.

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

In many cases, speaking with a qualified divorce lawyer about your legal options and how the divorce process works can reduce some of that anxiety. A divorce lawyer can also advise you on how best to protect your rights and interests, especially if you and your spouse don’t agree about how to resolve your divorce settlement.

When should you talk to a divorce lawyer?

  • You think you want to get divorced, but want to know what your options are.
  • You want to get divorced.
  • Your spouse is talking to a divorce lawyer.
  • You have been served with divorce papers.
  • You think your spouse wants a divorce and may be intentionally hiding or spending your marital assets.

Why talk to a divorce lawyer?

Divorce is a process that, at the end of the day, dissolves a legal partnership between two people. The kind of legal representation you need when faced with a divorce depends on the complexity of that partnership.

The more complex your divorce, the greater your need will be for legal representation to protect your rights and interests. Considerations when evaluating how complex your divorce case will be:

  • Assets and Property. The more property you and your spouse own, the more complex it will be to value and divide those assets. This can include savings, real estate, investments, retirement, business interests, and so on.
  • Children. If you and your spouse have minor children together, you will need to resolve child custody issues in your divorce either through negotiations or trial.
  • Support. The necessity of financial support of a spouse (alimony) or minor children (child support) can dramatically increase the complexity of your divorce.

You need to make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to.

Often, the “quickie” or cheap, do-it-yourself divorces you see advertised can result in a settlement agreement that you may not fully understand. If you’ve agreed to something unknowingly, divorce settlements and parenting plans can be difficult and expensive to modify after the divorce is final, and you’ll end up having to hire a lawyer anyway.

The services of a qualified divorce lawyer at the beginning can help ensure that you don’t agree to anything you don’t understand – it’s their job to explain to you what the legal documents mean before you sign.

You may have legal issues to resolve that you aren’t aware of.

A lawyer can make sure that your divorce settlement addresses every issue pertinent to your situation, both big and small. During a do-it-yourself divorce process, people often overlook issues like future college costs for children, tax issues, division of retirement assets, parenting plan contingencies, proper allocation of debts, and other concerns. A divorce lawyer will be able to identify and ensure that your divorce settlement addresses all the issues.

Is it ever safe to divorce without hiring a lawyer?

If your marriage lasted a very short time (a year or two) and you and your spouse have no children, are not pregnant, have minimal assets (less than $30,000), no major debt (less than $15,000), and agree on all the terms of the divorce, the risks of divorcing without legal representation are much lower, though still present.

In most cases, however, divorces are not that simple. Consulting with a divorce lawyer can provide a wealth of information you may not have known. Representation from a divorce lawyer can ensure that the divorce settlement you receive will protect you now and well into the future, especially if your case involves property or children.

Contacting a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the best course of action, we invite you to speak with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney. Contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing the contact form on this website. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service!

Telling Your Children About Divorce

Children and DivorceHow to Have the Divorce Talk with Your Child

Divorce is never easy, especially for children. The way you break the news to your children can direct the course of your children’s emotional and psychological state throughout the divorce process. The approach you and your spouse take when having the divorce talk with your children carries great weight, so make sure you do it the right way.

Before we get into a list of things you should and shouldn’t say to your children after you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, it is important to remember that this news should come from both parents. Having a united front is one of the best ways to help your children cope with the news of divorce.

Things You Should Tell Your Children

Tell your children how this will affect them.

It is vital that your children come out of the conversation knowing how this decision will affect them. Tell your children not only about your decision, but also of the ramifications of that decision. Will this change where they live, where they go to school and how often they will see both of their parents? These are things your children need to know.

Tell your children where they are going to live.

In the same vein, it is important to tell your children that their living situation will likely change, even if you are unsure of all the details at the time you have this conversation. Whatever you tell your children, make sure they know that things will change in this regard.

Tell your children that you both love them.

Above all, perhaps the most important thought you should communicate to your children is that you and your spouse love them very much, and your decision to divorce is in no way their fault. Tell them that no matter what happens, your and your spouse’s love for them will not change.

Things to Avoid Telling Your Children

Don’t use accusatory language.

Blaming your spouse, a third party, or even inadvertently blaming your children for the divorce will, almost certainly, emotionally and psychologically traumatize your children. Blaming, whether overtly or subtly, is something that should never enter this type of conversation.

Don’t divulge too many details.

While you want your children to be aware of your decision to divorce and how this will affect them, there are certain details about your reasons for divorce that they have no need to know about. Sharing too much information usually does more harm than good.

Don’t oversimplify your explanation.

Just as divulging too many details about your reasons to divorce can be harmful, so also is oversimplifying your explanation of the situation. If the talk you and your spouse have with your children leads them to believe that nothing will change, you’ve done it wrong.

After you have finished explaining your decision to your children, be ready to answer their questions, be sensitive to their feelings and give them ample time to process the news.

Contacting a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the best course of action, we invite you to speak with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney. Contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter.  You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing the contact form on this website.  We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service!

child-custody-cases-experiencing-delays

Court Backlogs & Delays Impacting Child Custody Outcomes in North Carolina

Most states, including North Carolina, have adopted the Best Interest of a Child standard to determine all issues affecting children including child custody, parenting plans, visitation, child support and decision-making.   However, one factor missing from the court’s analysis is the overall impact of the court’s already crowded court docket or calendar.

The Cause of Crowded Court Dockets

In many jurisdictions, courts experience a backlog that prevents a child custody case from reaching the court in a reasonable amount of time.  Some courts have witnessed a three-year trend in growing backlogs that have resulted in countless families waiting over a year for their day in court to determine a parenting or custody plan that is in the child’s best interest.

In some states, delays stem from a requirement that a family undergo an evaluation if anyone in the household has a criminal record.  Other jurisdictions lack judicial resources and some judges lack experience in handling domestic relations or family law cases.  Many jurisdictions divide judges between criminal, domestic relations and civil litigation dockets.  While the multi-discipline approach allows a breadth of knowledge and expertise among the members of the bench it also appears to limit the ability of the court to handle an increased number of cases in a specific practice area.

No Real Signs of Relief Ahead

Regardless of the reason for growing delays in family law matters, especially contested custody battles, we don’t see any encouraging signs for improvement.  Many jurisdictions have experienced an increase in the number of cases filed due to a slightly improving economy and lower rate of unemployment (i.e. folks can now afford to retain the lawyer to handle the divorce).  The opposite is also true; pro se filings are on the rise, which lead to the court’s ongoing struggle with an increase in improper filings and an increase in contested hearings to resolve matters that could have been avoided by skilled negotiation and settlement.  In a band aid style solution, one jurisdiction outside North Carolina simply reassigned three judges to family courts to hear custody cases.  Of course, the real impact of the temporary fix is yet to be felt as other practice areas may be neglected or pushed off on other judges.

Crowded Dockets Lead to Other Issues

While courts continue to experience backlogs that impact the ability to conduct timely hearings to determine which parenting plan or orders best satisfy the best interests of a child, another danger may be created by rushing cases through the domestic relations gauntlet.  Pushing a case through to a hearing may be detrimental to both parties.  This is because it robs the parties of valuable opportunities to iron out a parenting plan that is in a child’s best interest.  The full court press to push the case through the system actually results in clogging the system more.  The court ends up taking its already limited resources to hear a case that could have resolved amicably (not only is it less expensive for the clients to work through a parenting plan with the help of their attorneys, the couple is more likely to follow a parenting plan that they help craft).  Further, the court is more likely to conduct a modification hearing in the future because the parties do not like the parenting plan ordered by the court.

Mandatory Mediation in North Carolina Child Custody Cases

With some exceptions, parties in North Carolina cases involving a contested issue of child custody or visitation are required to attend mediation prior to a hearing in their matter.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.1(b).  While mediating these issues sometimes resolves the case in a timely manner, the unresolved cases lose valuable time being scheduled on the crowded dockets discussed above.

How Long Will It Take for My Case to be Heard?

At the time of this post, at least one county where we practice is scheduling hearings on child custody some seven months from the date of the request.  Practically speaking, this means that it may be at least eight to nine months from the date of filing an action for custody until the parties have an opportunity to be heard by a judge.  This is because the case may not be placed on a court calendar until an opposing party has an opportunity to respond, and the parties have  attended an unsuccessful mediation.  For these reasons, it is increasingly desirable to attempt resolving child custody issues with the help of experienced attorneys and mediators, rather than waiting for a court to decide a case.

Contact an experienced North Carolina Family Lawyer at Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your child custody matter.  You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing the contact form on this website.  We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service!

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