We have prepared numerous agreements for prospective spouses, as well as for people who are in a committed relationship and would like to create financial and emotional security without marriage. These written agreements address the rights related to and disposition of present and future property, as well as future support payments. No two families’ situations are exactly alike. Please beware of form documents which are abundant on the internet. A poorly written agreement may save you money in the beginning, but in our experience you will more likely than not pay for it in the end.
Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, we can help guide you through your separation and divorce. Our goals are to listen to your needs and to provide a personal, client-centered approach to address those specific needs. We will also have open and honest communications about your wants and needs and set realistic expectations throughout the separation and divorce process. If you are contemplating a separation, we can provide you with an overview of your rights and responsibilities as they relate to getting divorced.
Upon a separation, North Carolina presumes a 50/50 division of your marital and divisible property is an equitable division. We can help you determine what is and is not marital or divisible property, as well as assist you with determining the fair value of your assets. Additionally, as in so many areas of life, many presumptions can be rebutted with additional facts. Together we will determine if you have any factors in your favor to support an unequal division. We will do the same with the alimony factors to help develop a “range of reasonableness” for the amount and duration of alimony. There are no alimony guidelines in North Carolina, and the perception of what is an equitable award of alimony vary widely among practitioners and even more so from county to county. We suggest you hire experienced local counsel for all aspects of your divorce due to large variances present between the counties in North Carolina.
If you Google “child custody” you will likely find words such as “joint,” “shared,” “sole,” “primary”, “secondary,” “legal” and “physical.” We can help you understand these terms as we explore what arrangements would be in the best interest of your child(ren). If you are a grandparent or non-parent who has had an active role in raising a child, we can advise you about seeking visitation privileges and/or custody. We will also determine if the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines are applicable to your situation, and we will explore various child support scenarios. The presumptive Guidelines apply to families with a combined monthly income of less than $25,000 per month. If the Guidelines are not applicable, then child support should meet the reasonable health, education, and maintenance needs of the child(ren), considering the estates, earning, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child(ren) and the parties, the child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of your particular case.
In addition to representing clients in mediation, Jenny has served as both a party-selected and a court-appointed mediator in various aspects of a divorce, such as child custody, support issues, property division and separation. Jenny’s goal in mediation is to understand your family and what resolutions may work best for you as you move forward with your new “normal.” Focusing on solutions and reaching resolution allows you to avoid much of the expense, time, stress and hostilities of court proceedings. In her experience, people are more likely to adhere to a solution they helped create rather than one a judge forced upon them, which can also save you from a considerable amount of expense, time, stress and hostilities of enforcing your resolution.
Some of our clients choose arbitration as a way to resolve their differences. Also, parties have selected Jenny to serve as their arbitrator. Arbitration is a private process in which the arbitrator renders a decision for the parties. Often arbitration is conducted pursuant to the North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act. While you are paying the costs for an attorney to serve as arbitrator in these proceedings, many people and attorneys prefer arbitration to court. The benefits of arbitration include having the decision-maker be experienced and well-versed in family law, having the convenience of arranging hearings at times and places to suit the schedules of parties and their witnesses, and having the flexibility to divide the proceedings or to streamline them into one hearing, depending on the circumstances and needs of the parties.
Our District Court Judges have appointed Jenny on several occasions to serve as a Rule 53 referee. In this capacity, Jenny receives evidence and issues a recommendation to the Court on the issues submitted to her, such as personal property disputes. The Court may adopt, modify or reject her report in whole or in part, render judgment, or remand the proceedings to her with further instructions. To date, no case has been remanded back to her.
Jenny enjoys serving as a Neutral Evaluator. In these situations, you provide Jenny with an informal, abbreviated presentation of the case at an early stage in the process. Jenny gives you feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the case, providing a candid assessment of the merits of each party’s positions and the areas of dispute which could be narrowed.