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 experienced family law attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

free trader agreements

Free Trader Agreements in North Carolina

As a divorce lawyer practicing in Union County, clients often ask me about “Free Trader Agreements” or provisions. What are they? Do I need one in my separation and divorce? Divorce lawyers often include such provisions in Separation Agreements. Let’s review what free trader agreements are, and whether you need one in your divorce or separation.

What is a Free Trader Agreement?

Free Trader Agreements allow a husband or wife to purchase property after the date of separation but before an absolute divorce without the necessity of having the other spouse being placed on the deed. The most common scenario—husband and wife separate. One spouse stays in the former marital home. The other spouse moves out and intends on buying a new place. However, the paperwork gets caught up because the spouses refuse to both sign and be on a deed for new property together. Obviously, the parties do not want this. What to do? This is the basic premise behind a Free Trader Agreement.

With a Free Trader Agreement, the spouses can freely purchase real property without placing the other spouse on the deed. This, by no means, will allow one spouse to sell the former marital home without the consent of the other—that is not what this is for. Instead, this allows the “purchasing” spouse to keep that real property as a separate asset and a separate obligation (ie—the mortgage). This can have huge value for both parties.

This document can also address the obligation that each party has to the other to refrain from attempting to get credit in the others’ name, as well as to promptly pay all debts and financial obligations incurred from the date of separation on.

Free Trader Agreements should be drafted in accordance with N.C.G.S. 52-10 and 39-13.4, they must be signed by both parties and notarized, and are filed with the Register of Deeds.

I Already have a Separation Agreement…Do I need a Free Trader Agreement?

If you do not have a recorded Free Trader Agreement, this can be very problematic as North Carolina requires parties to live separate and apart for at least one year before a party may file for divorce. Any plans to purchase, sell or refinance real estate may be put on on hold until the 12-month waiting period is over. Even after parties that have legally separated and remain separated for 12 months, it can take an additional two or three months to obtain the actual divorce judgment. Often during this process, my clients will need to either acquire or transfer real estate after their separation and prior to entry of a divorce judgment.

Most North Carolina divorce law firms include some standard “free trader” provisions in their Separation Agreement and Property Settlement Agreements. If drafted correctly and properly executed, these provisions may be completely enforceable, however without a separate record-able document containing a Free Trader Agreement you will be forced to record your entire separation and agreement and property settlement with the local register of deeds. This may not seem like a big deal, however recording costs can be rather high for a long documents, and more importantly you may not wish to have your personal life exposed like that for all the world to see into posterity. Anyone and everyone could access your entire separation agreement if the whole document is recorded.

Speak to a Monroe/Union County Family Law Attorney

If you are unsure whether or not you will be purchasing property after your separation and prior to your divorce, please make make sure you talk with a local divorce lawyer to discuss the matter prior to entering into any divorce settlement or Separation Agreement and Property Settlement. Call Lundell Law Firm at 704-288-4096 to discuss all of the issues surrounding your separation.

 

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