Our Lead Attorney Is A Board-Certified Family Law Specialist
Family Law encompasses many different situations encountered by individuals who decide to end their relationship with a significant other or spouse, including dealing with the division of assets and debts (equitable distribution), receiving or providing financial support (spousal support, post-separation support and alimony), extricating oneself from an unsafe partner (domestic violence), and officially ending the legal marriage (divorce).
In North Carolina there are two types of divorces, Absolute Divorce and Divorce from Bed and Board. Both types of divorce can be obtained only by court judgment. Married parties cannot simply agree or sign an agreement or a contract to be divorced. Absolute Divorce does not require a showing of any fault committed by either of the parties to the marriage. Absolute Divorce is based on the parties living separate and apart for at least one year and one day with at least one person having the intent for the separation to be permanent. Divorce from Bed and Board is a legal claim for relief from the court based upon the existence of marital misconduct, including abandonment, adultery, domestic violence, substance abuse, etc. Divorce from Bed and Board is an infrequent claim but is appropriate in extreme situations when one party refuses to agree to a physical separation.
In North Carolina, to obtain a domestic violence protective order, North Carolina General Statute §50B requires that there must be one of the following relationships between the person seeking the order and the person against whom the order is sought: current or former spouses, current or former cohabitating opposite sex couples, parents and children, persons with a child in common, current or former household members, or current or former opposite sex couples in a dating relationship. Although physical violence is the most commonly known reason to seek protection, there does not have to be physical violence to obtain a domestic violence protective order. Harassment is also grounds for obtaining a domestic violence protective order. A domestic violence protective order requires that the alleged perpetrator stop contacting the person who requested the order. The order can also involve custody provisions for minor children and the granting of the possession of a residence, vehicle, or pet. While a domestic violence protective order is a civil matter and not a criminal offense, the violation of such an order is a criminal matter.
At Donna Ambler Davis, PC, we are especially sensitive to the intricate details of cases involving allegations of domestic violence. Our attorneys provide experienced litigation support to advocate for the best outcome in every circumstance.
Equitable Distribution in North Carolina is defined by North Carolina General Statute §50-20. North Carolina law provides that upon application of a party, the court shall determine what is the separate property of each of the parties, what is the marital property and the divisible property of the parties and provide for an equitable distribution of the marital and divisible property. This statute goes on to provide that there shall be an equal division of the marital and divisible property, unless the court determines that an equal division is not appropriate. In that situation, the court may determine an unequal distribution of the marital and divisible property between the parties based upon numerous statutory factors.
How assets and debts are divided between separated or divorcing parties has serious short-term and long-term life consequences. At Donna Ambler Davis, PC, we believe that knowledge is power. Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities will put you in the best position to move forward with security and stability.
Alimony / Spousal Support
Alimony in North Carolina is defined by North Carolina General Statute §50-16.1A(1) as an Order for payment for the support of a spouse or former spouse, periodically or in a lump sum, for specified or an indefinite term, ordered in an action for divorce, whether absolute or from bed and board, or in an action for alimony without a divorce. A person who is a dependent spouse (meaning unable to meet his or her reasonable financial needs) is entitled to an award of post-separation support and/or alimony from a supporting spouse (meaning the person who has provided the primary financial support during the marriage and most recently at the time of the separation). The determination as to whether a person is a dependent spouse or whether a person is a supporting spouse may or may not be readily apparent and sometimes is the first issue to be addressed in negotiations or litigation. The amount and/or duration of post-separation support and alimony, however, often is the most contentious part of separation and divorce negotiations or litigation, precisely because it greatly impacts the short-term and long-term financial capability and stability of each of the parties. Resolving this issue requires the keen knowledge of recent court decisions and trends on the issue of alimony and spousal support awards. At Donna Ambler Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience negotiating to settlement and litigating to success alimony and spousal support cases, both for the party seeking and for the party defending a claim for support. Our legal team keeps abreast of trends regionally and nationally, to best help our clients achieve their best outcome for present and future financial stability and prosperity.