Our continued focus allows our clients to obtain a successful outcome and brings them to a better place because of our thorough advocacy. We value relationships and understand the needs of families when it comes to difficult times.
King Law is a recognized leader of family law, indicated by the NC Bar designation of founding partner Brian King as Family Law Specialist. Our North Carolina family law attorneys have exceptional experience representing men, women, and children with legal matters that involve family and domestic relations.
Adoption in North Carolina
There is nothing more rewarding at King Law than completing an adoption for our clients. Adoption in North Carolina covers a wide range of ways to bring a person into a family. This area of law is full of legal language and bureaucratic puzzles, from stepparent adoptions to international adoptions to adult adoption. When you want to begin the life-changing process of adoption or fostering, you need a lawyer at your side that you can trust to help you every step of the way.
In many situations, a mother placing a child for adoption is the most difficult decision of her life. Still, it is the most exciting and rewarding decision a couple awaiting to sign adoption papers can make. Remember, each state has a waiting period where that mother can change her mind concerning the adoption. In North Carolina, birth parents have seven days to change their minds after consenting to place their child under adoption. Having the proper legal counsel during this time makes the difference between successful or interrupted adoption.
You do not want to go to a law firm that does not understand the adoption laws for this critical decision. We look forward to working with you on such a life-changing situation. Begin the legal process even before you have found a child to prequalify for the adoption process. We help with the application process, work to finalize the necessary adoption paperwork, and answer any questions you or your partner may have while we work together to finalize the adoption.
I remember one case where we adopted a baby that was literally left on our client’s doorstep one morning. A young girl had went to a church one Sunday, and determined that our clients should adopt the child. Months later, she found their house and left the child with them. That child is now a big kid like any other, surrounded in love—I know because I recently ran into the mother bragging in Wal-Mart. Our clients are more than just a number, they are our friends and neighbors.
– Brian King, Esq
Separation in North Carolina
When considering a separation, you need to first ask yourself; is there still hope for working things out? Is there anything you can do to strengthen the marriage? Have you exhausted all options for your marriage? Divorce is difficult, and the process can be stressful. You first need a solid understanding of how separation and divorce work in North Carolina.
A divorce can be obtained in North Carolina by either party once you or your spouse have lived separately for at least one year. During this time of separation, you cannot resume your marital relationship if you intend to move forward with a divorce. You do not need anything written regarding the separation, and you are not required to have a separation agreement. On the other hand, a separation agreement can be effective, especially when you have children and property involved.
It allows you and your spouse to agree on custody, child support, alimony, and property division. If you and your spouse can agree to terms that accompany an agreement, then when the time period arrives for the divorce, the court can simply incorporate the separation agreement into order with your divorce. This does allow a more hands-on approach with your separation. At any time after the separation of the parties, either may file an action through the court for property division, custody, child support, spousal support or Alimony; but a separation must take place. The court will not consider you and your spouse separated if you are still living together with the intention of resuming the marital relationship.
We are here to help you grasp the overall outline of your separation. The first step is to contact our office to consult an attorney who can help guide you through your separation process.
Keep in mind that a separation must take place. The court will not consider you and your spouse separated if you are still living together, intending to resume the marital relationship.
Separation agreements offer spouses a certain degree of protection that can also be credible in court should any disagreements on finances, property, and children arise during the divorce proceedings ahead.
The couple decides which commitments and obligations to list in the separation agreement, but they must agree. The benefit of a separation agreement is that it is adaptable and can include whatever the splitting spouses decide is most important.
Usually, an agreement will specify matters like:
- The home: Who will stay in the house and pay the mortgage? What rights does the other spouse have to the marital home? How much maintenance will each spouse be responsible for paying?
- Custody: Who will the children (if any) live with and where?
- Child support: Who will support and pay for the children’s needs? How much maintenance will you or your spouse be responsible for paying?
- Marital debts: Under North Carolina’s equitable distribution law, all debts are divided between spouses. If splitting debts equally is not reasonable, how much debt will each spouse take on?
- Personal and real property: Like marital debts, personal and real property acquired during the marriage will be divided between spouses. An agreement can specify how properties will be divided based on their preferences and needs.
- Alimony: How much will the supporting spouse pay the dependent spouse? Will it be monthly payments or a lump sum?
If you and your spouse agree to terms, the court can simply incorporate the separation agreement in with your divorce when the time arrives. Once the divorce is filed, and specific claims are not preserved, the court will likely bar you from future claims. It’s essential to have an experienced attorney involved to ensure that you receive all legal protections and preserve future claims.
North Carolina does require a one-year separation, but many claims can be settled by the court or through mediation during the one-year waiting period. That does allow a more “hands on” approach with your separation.
Collaborative Divorce in North Carolina
Divorce is never easy in courtrooms across North Carolina. Divorce issues like the division of property, payment of alimony, and child custody are decided through the adversarial process, pitting one spouse against the other. The traditional adversarial process has been around for as long as the divorce process, but an alternative way of handling your divorce is now available. That alternative is collaborative divorce.
In a North Carolina collaborative divorce, each spouse has an attorney knowledgeable in the case’s legal aspects, much like in the majority of traditional divorces. However, unlike in a conventional divorce, each attorney works together with the spouses to provide direct, open, and honest communication about the best possible resolution for all parties.
An agreement is signed at the start of the collaborative process, stating the intention to resolve all matters without trial. If either spouse chooses to go to court, each attorney must withdraw from further representation.
In addition to being low on conflict, the collaborative process can also save money. Many litigation expenses come from the preparation and drafting of technical documents filed with the court. These documents take time and money to draft. In collaborative law, the attorney is not forced to prepare these technical documents for the court, saving both time and money.
Collaborative law is not for everyone. If you have been in an abusive relationship or cannot be honest and open with your ex, the collaborative law process may not be for you. With that in mind, if you think the collaborative process may be appropriate for you, collaborative law may lead you down the path to a future relationship that is healthy and beneficial for the entire family, without the hard feelings that can be associated with the traditional courtroom process.
Divorce in North Carolina
Divorce is difficult, and the process can be stressful. The first thing you need is a solid understanding of how divorce works in North Carolina. Our divorce lawyers can guide you through the process. Either party can obtain an absolute divorce once you or your spouse have lived separately for at least one year. With the help of our North Carolina divorce lawyers, you can start to work toward this goal, meeting every regulation.
During this time of separation, you cannot resume your marital relationship. North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce jurisdiction, so neither party has to prove marital misconduct to obtain the divorce. You can get a divorce as long as the separation period is a year and your paperwork is processed correctly through the court system.
You may receive a divorce even if you and your spouse have not resolved the following issues in your separation:
- Child support
- Property division
- Spousal support and alimony
The first step is to contact a divorce attorney who can help guide you through the essential stages and requirements of your North Carolina divorce process.
Prenuptial Agreements in North Carolina
A prenuptial agreement is a document that has the signatures of both parties who intend to enter into marriage. It outlines each party’s responsibilities, rights, and specific property in the event of a divorce in the future.
The primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement made in North Carolina is to determine how assets or property should be divided if the couple gets divorced or if one of the parties dies during the marriage. It can also waive alimony and support. A properly executed and well-written prenuptial agreement provides protection and comfort for both spouses.
According to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act of North Carolina, a prenuptial agreement may contain limited alimony rights, property rights, and a variety of other rights. Many couples also provide stipulations about their future children and future remarriages to protect future children’s rights. According to Chapter 52B of N.C. General Statutes, for a premarital agreement to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by both parties of the marrying couple.
For a prenuptial agreement to hold up in court, be sure to:
- Disclose all of your finances. If your spouse finds out that you’re hiding assets, the prenuptial agreement could get tossed out by the court.
- Avoid coercion, distress, and undue influence. Plan and sign the agreement at least 30 days before the wedding.
- Be fair and deal fairly with your soon-to-be spouse in determining the amount of support they will receive if the marriage ends or if you should die during the marriage.
- Don’t combine assets after marriage. That makes it very difficult to determine your property before the marriage.
- You may need a postnuptial agreement to protect some types of retirement plans. Ask your attorney if further agreements will need to be made in the future and discuss those with your fiancé in advance.
Without the legal assistance of an NC family law attorney, it’s easy to make a mistake in creating a prenuptial agreement that can render the document void. It’s best to have an experienced NC family lawyer review the agreement and explain each statement’s implications in the document. That is to ensure that the prenuptial agreement is legally binding.
King Law is a firm prepared to move forward with any prenuptial agreement in North Carolina. You can be assured you are getting tenacious representation in every matter, and we will give your prenuptial agreement top priority.
Equitable Distribution / Property Distribution in North Carolina
During a marriage, spouses generally acquire property, whether a home, cars, bank accounts, a business, IRAs, or stock options. Laws in North Carolina provide for the division and distribution of this property. Once a couple has separated, either party may ask the court for equitable distribution. The court will determine the couple’s marital and divisible property and then provide a fair distribution.
The divisible property includes, but is not limited to:
- Contractual rights
- Passive income from marital property received after the date of separation, including interest and dividends
- Increases and decreases in marital debt, financing charges, and interest related to marital debt
In North Carolina, the division of property between the parties will be equal unless the court determines that an equal division of property is not equitable. You can be confident you are getting personal and responsive representation in every matter, and we will give your equitable distribution case top priority at King Law.
Alimony in North Carolina
Perhaps the most devastating long-term consequence of divorce is the tragic distribution of money. A couple, who usually already struggled to maintain a budget together, is now facing two households and dual expenses with the same (or lower) income as before.
The State of North Carolina protects spouses who are dependent on the other spouse’s income through alimony. Both states have provisions to allow this money to begin even before the final trial.
Child Custody in North Carolina
Nothing is more stressful in a divorce than developing an appropriate child custody schedule. North Carolina courts find it very difficult to aid in a delicate situation such as this and often fall back on their own personal judgments. That’s why you need a child custody lawyer fighting for your best interests at any point you are negotiating custody of your children in North Carolina.
According to Blackley v. Blackley, 285 N.C. 358 (1974), the court will look at the development of the child in five clear ways when determining custody:
As your child custody lawyer in North Carolina, King Law will help ensure the court decides what’s best for your children.
Appeals Related to Child Custody
There should be no illusions that an appeal will change an outcome after a court date. Trial courts are rarely overturned. There are few opportunities for an appeal in custody cases in North Carolina. The Court of Appeals is not any more inclined than the trial courts to get involved in the facts of a custody case. That was demonstrated in Peters v. Pennington when the court cited:
“In a child custody case, the trial court’s findings of fact are conclusive on appeal if supported by substantial evidence, even if there is sufficient evidence to support contrary findings․ Unchallenged findings of fact are binding on appeal.”
At King Law, our North Carolina child custody lawyers are experienced in navigating these regulations to help clients achieve the best outcome for all parties involved, whether that requires visitation, custody, or both.
If you have any questions about the complex nature of the child custody system in North Carolina, our child custody lawyers and legal staff would be happy to speak with you over a call or via email.
Child Support in North Carolina
Child support aims to put the child of a couple who do not live together in the same financial position they would have enjoyed if both parents lived together. They deserve the law to give them every opportunity for the money they are entitled to under the child support statutes in North Carolina. Further, the state is set up to collect and send payments (and punish when payments are not made) for little or no cost to you. The “waiver” of child support should not “buy” a person’s custody.
However, we often see custodial parents attempt to “punish” the other side with an outrageous demand for child support. Appropriate payments should be reviewed for children in North Carolina to find a fairground, based on the guidelines in effect. Our firm is prepared to move forward with any case of child support. You can be assured you are getting cutting-edge representation in every matter, and our family lawyers in North Carolina will make your child support case our top priority.
Annulments in North Carolina
There is only a small list of reasons you would qualify for an annulment in North Carolina. Unlike a divorce, which is the dissolution of a legitimate marriage, an annulment is a judicial declaration that the marriage never existed. These issues are legal ones (for example, one party was already married) and a couple of odd ones (the wife lied about pregnancy).
In all of these issues, one thing is for sure: you must act immediately. Grounds for annulment are limited, and you must act swiftly as the nature of annulments is often time-sensitive. If you believe that your marriage in North Carolina needs to be annulled, please contact our office directly.
Domestic Violence in North Carolina
Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously in North Carolina. We are here to help those charged with domestic violence as well as victims of domestic violence. Cases such as these can be complex as the emotions run high when both parties have or had a personal relationship.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, we want to help protect your rights. Please know that we will work with you to receive the best possible outcome. If you are a victim of domestic violence again, we will help get you the protection needed through the court.
A domestic relationship is not only a marriage relationship. It can be a relationship consisting of a current or former spouse, roommates, or people who are dating or have dated. Events that occur between the examples above, such as attempting to or causing bodily harm, placing the victim or their family in fear of bodily injury or harassment leading to emotional distress, or committing any sexual assaults, are incidents that can be charged as domestic violence.
Once there is a domestic violence charge, the court has the decision to order an emergency protective order keeping the defendant away from the victim. A protective order can help both the defendant and the victim. Both parties are required to abide by the protective order.
Guardianship in North Carolina
We all prefer to decide how we will live our lives—where we will live, how we will dress, what we will eat, with whom we will share friendship—but, unfortunately, this is not always possible. Every day, people suffer injuries or experience health failures that lead to being unable to make good decisions for themselves. These people need someone to assume their rights and make decisions about many aspects of their daily lives.
In North Carolina, guardianship is the legal proceeding by which a corporation or disinterested public agent can be appointed to manage the personal or financial affairs of an individual who has been judged to lack the capacity to do so on their own. It is a legal relationship between a capable adult entity (the guardian) and a person who has been declared legally disabled in a court of law (award).
The guardian may be a:
- Family member
- Close friend
- Professional guardian (an unrelated person who has received specialized training)
They will support the right of the incapacitated ward to make decisions whenever possible. They will solicit and respect the ward’s views and wishes unless these views and wishes must be overridden in the ward’s best interest.
When an individual is determined to be incapacitated, and there is no alternative to guardianship such as the power of attorney, a healthcare directive, or living trust, a North Carolina court may appoint a guardian to exercise those delegable rights been taken away. For that reason, the initiation of guardianship proceedings should be considered only after all other possible alternatives have been explored.
Grandparent’s Rights in North Carolina
Being a grandparent is an extraordinary privilege, and the thought of not being able to see your grandchildren is inconceivable. Visitation for grandparents is usually negotiated in the custody order of your grandchildren’s parents, but there are other avenues in which visitation can be negotiated, like legal mediation, for example.
As a grandparent, it’s crucial to document the relationship with your grandchildren. If you are being denied visitation, then the documentation will help the court determine if an award for visitation is appropriate.
While grandparents in North Carolina usually cannot maintain an independent action for custody [NCGS 50-13.5(J)], King Law’s attorneys have represented many North Carolina grandparents and have had much success securing custody. However, it is essential to keep in mind that these cases are often more challenging. Parents’ rights supersede grandparents’ rights unless parents can be proven unfit. The courts consider additional factors, especially the relationship between the grandparent and child to obtain child custody. At King Law, we can help guide you by finding the best possible solution for your needs.
How Is Incapacitation Proven in North Carolina?
Medical evidence is normally sought to support a finding of incapacity. Still, it is essential to remember that incapacity is a legal term, not a medical definition. The threshold issue is whether or not the alleged incapacitated person is capable of exercising certain legal rights, such as the right to manage money or to consent to medical treatment.
Many factors impact an individual’s capacity, including mental and physical health, personal environment and financial status.
Termination of Parental Rights in North Carolina
A North Carolina court can terminate a parent’s rights for abuse or neglect of the child. Other reasons may be:
- Willful abandonment of the child to foster care for more than twelve months
- Failure to pay child support under a court order or agreement for more than one year
- Father of a child born out of wedlock’s failure to legitimate the child
- Establish paternity or financially provide for the child
- A parent is incapable of providing for proper care and supervision
- For other reasons, as set out in North Carolina Law
Either parent may seek to terminate the other parent’s rights. A guardian judicially appointed for the child, a person who has filed a petition to adopt the minor child, and anyone with whom the child has continuously lived for two or more years may also petition for the termination of parental rights.
If the person, who petitions for termination of a parent’s rights, proves there are grounds for the termination, the court must consider whether such termination is in the best interests of the minor child. In making this determination, the court must consider the following:
- The age of the juvenile
- The likelihood of adoption of the juvenile
- Whether the termination of parental rights will aid in the accomplishment of the permanent plan for the juvenile
- The bond between the juvenile and the parent
- The quality of the relationship between the juvenile and the proposed adoptive parent, guardian, custodian, or other permanent placement
- Any relevant consideration.
An order terminating the parental rights completely and permanently terminates all rights and obligations of the parent to the juvenile and of the juvenile to the parent arising from the parental relationship, except that the juvenile’s right of inheritance from the juvenile’s parent shall not terminate until a final order of adoption is issued.
Additional Family Law Cases We Handle
Consult an Experienced North Carolina Family Law Attorney
At King Law, our founding partner Brian King specializes in North Carolina family law. We are committed to building a trusted relationship with our clients to learn the details of their situations and what matters most as they move forward in their lives. When you partner with our North Carolina family law attorneys at King Law, we will work tirelessly to do all that is in our power to achieve the most desirable results possible for you and your family.
The legal team at King Law works diligently with clients in North Carolina to bring award-winning, compassionate, and assertive representation. To speak with an experienced North Carolina family law attorney, schedule a consultation today by completing a contact form or calling (888) 748-KING.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my spouse and I use the same divorce lawyer?
In a divorce, you and your spouse are opposing parties. This applies whether you and your spouse have agreed on the terms of your divorce amicably or not. If an attorney represents you and your spouse simultaneously, it would be a conflict of interest.
Even though a single lawyer cannot represent you and your spouse during divorce, they are capable of helping you finalize the divorce. The process of mediation entails a mutually agreed-upon third party helping divorcing spouses reach an agreement. Many attorneys are certified family law mediators. Couples often opt for it to avoid the hassle and time required for a trial. Therefore, your lawyer could serve as your mediator, as long as they refrain from offering legal advice to either party.
Are my spouse and I able to resolve issues related to our divorce without filing a lawsuit?
Divorce issues can be resolved between you and your spouse without going to court. An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties mutually agree upon matters such as child custody, property distribution, debt, alimony, and more. When you and your spouse have agreed to the divorce terms, a judge will approve and finalize it. Nevertheless, these matters are often emotionally challenging, time consuming and even cooperative spouses may require legal guidance over these matters to ensure the final agreements protect their interests.
Why is the date of separation so important in the state of North Carolina?
Divorce proceedings depend on the date of separation. Before an absolute divorce can be granted in North Carolina, the parties must be physically separated from each other for at least one year with the intent of making the separation permanent.
How long will the divorce take to be finalized?
You may file for an absolute divorce after a separation period of 12 months in North Carolina. In general, a simple divorce typically takes 45 to 90 days to complete after being filed. However, a divorce in which spouses disagree over key issues will take longer.
Are separation agreements required to get a divorce?
A separation agreement is a contract between separated parties that addresses all the issues related to the separation. It is a private agreement that is created when spouses separate or intend to separate. There is no legal requirement to obtain a formal agreement or court approval to begin the process of living apart in North Carolina. It is recommended that the parties consult with an attorney and have their documents drafted or reviewed by a lawyer to make sure their best interests are protected and to ensure that any future claims would not be barred by the court.