Frequently Asked Questions

Family Lawyers

What is family law?

Family law is an overarching term covering all aspects of domestic relations and family law. It can include adoptions, divorce, estate planning, property distribution and child custody.

What is the definition of “family”?

Now that same sex marriage is legal in the United States, this term is applicable to both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples. Additionally, family law covers all types of non-traditional family structures.

Do I need a family lawyer?

Each family has unique needs and goals that should be honored and furthered by the legal professionals who support them. If you are getting separated or divorced, adopting, considering a gestational carrier, have an estate or are trying to navigate the recently-updated same-sex marriage laws, a family lawyer will have the experience and knowledge to provide you with the best advice possible.

Estate Planning Attorneys

What are estate planning attorneys?

A family lawyer can also be an estate planning attorney. These types of attorneys have experience in estate planning, durable power of attorney, estate and trust administration, irrevocable trusts, living and revocable trusts, LGBT estate planning, medical directives and wills and probate.

How can an estate planning attorney help me?

An estate planning attorney should have experience in and knowledge of how to develop a legal, documented estate so it meets all your needs. Your legal counsel should advise the best, most creative and thorough solutions for your estate planning and administration.

What are some examples of what an estate planning attorney would do?

An estate planning attorney can help you plan for wealth and asset preservation, ensure a smooth business succession and provide a plan for efficiently transferring family assets.

What is durable power of attorney?

Durable power of attorney is when someone can legally continue to act on your behalf even after you have suffered from an incapacitating accident or illness, such as a stroke or dementia. With a standard power of attorney, this would not be the case; your friend or loved one automatically loses their power of attorney once you become incapacitated.

What are some responsibilities that a person given durable power of attorney would have if I became incapacitated?

The person you made responsible for your durable power of attorney could use your funds to pay bills, contract for nursing home services for your use and benefit and can make basic healthcare decisions unless otherwise stated in your healthcare power of attorney.

Who should get a durable power of attorney?

Everyone 18 years old or older should execute a durable power of attorney. Once a child becomes legally an adult, his/her parents no longer have the right to make decisions on his/her behalf, without having to be appointed by the Clerk of Court. Learn more about the different types of power of attorneys.

Separation Agreements, Alimony and Marriage Divorce Lawyers

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a private, legally-binding, written contract detailing each spouse’s rights and settling issues between spouses who have or intend to separate and/or divorce. It can resolve issues such as child custody, alimony, inheritance, future earnings and more.

What is alimony?

Alimony is spousal support. It is money one spouse pays to the other by court order, or by agreement, for support and maintenance after a separation or divorce.

How is alimony decided?

For a court to award alimony, it must find that there is a supporting spouse and a dependent spouse. The court must also find that the dependent spouse’s finances are not enough to meet his/her reasonable monthly needs and living expenses. The court must also find that that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay after meeting his/her own reasonable monthly needs. If, however, the court finds that the supporting spouse does not have the ability to pay, alimony is not awarded. Alternatively, it is not required to have a finding of dependency if an order for payment of alimony is entered by consent of both spouses.

What is a Green Divorce?

A green divorce is when all issues have been settled before filing the actual divorce. It is most effectively applied to the separation process. It can, however, can include an uncontested divorce after the parties have been separated for at least one year, according to North Carolina law. Learn more here.

Gay Marriages and Divorce

What do I have to do to be married in North Carolina if I’m already married in another state?

There is nothing you need to do. North Carolina recognizes valid same sex marriages from all other states.

How do I get a divorce in North Carolina if I got married in a different state?

You can get a divorce in North Carolina as long as you meet the other requirements for divorce, which are:

  • At least one of you has resided in North Carolina for at least six months
  • You have been separated, at different addresses, for at least one year and one day
  • At the time that you separated, at least one of you intended for the separation to be permanent
  • You have not resumed your marital relations while separated

An experienced family lawyer can help you with your divorce questions. It’s important that you get legal counsel because getting a divorce will severely impact your alimony rights and your property rights.

Contact us at 919-783-9669 today to discover how a family lawyer can help with your legal concerns.

Child Custody

I’m considering figuring out child custody on my own. Why should I get a family lawyer involved?

Experienced child custody attorneys can help parents resolve issues with a legal parenting agreement. These attorneys can help you navigate this sensitive time with your family. A legal parenting can be as detailed as you want it and can be tailored to the particular needs of the family.

Custodial Rights and Adoption for Same-sex Couples

What is the difference between an adoption and getting custody?

An adoption makes a person a legal parent of a child, creating a permanent parent-child relationship and solidifying numerous legal rights in both the parent and the child. It puts the adopting parent on exactly the same legal footing as the biological parent.

Custodial rights, or custody, can be granted to parents, but also to non-parents (for example, grandparents or other relatives). Custody can mean you have a right to visit the child or to participate in some decisions about the child. Having custodial rights to a child does not make you a legal parent. You should see an attorney for additional information to ensure you understand what the child you have custody of has rights to as far as your property and inheritance.

My spouse and I want to adopt our foster child. Is this possible?

Yes, if you are in a gay marriage, you and your spouse can jointly petition to adopt a child that is not biologically related to either of you. In fact, since you are now in a recognized marriage, your spouse must join in any petition to adopt.

Domestic Violence

What qualifies as domestic violence?

The types of domestic violence are as varied as each unique situation. In short, it is any physical or emotional harm to yourself and your family.

Who can I seek protection from domestic violence from?

You can seek protection from domestic violence from:

  • Your current spouse or ex-spouse
  • A person of the opposite sex with whom you live or used to live
  • Someone you are related to, including children, parents, grandparents and grandchildren over the age of 16
  • Someone with whom you have had a child
  • A former or current or household member
  • Someone of the opposite sex who you dated previously or are currently dating

You may also seek protection from a same-sex partner who is or has been a household member. Judges, however, do not always rule consistently in these cases.

Why should I seek legal counsel for domestic violence?

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, you need to act immediately to prevent further harm to yourself and your family, especially when there are children involved. Domestic violence statistics show that domestic violence can occur in any home. It does not matter what the race, sexual orientation or financial status of the individual might be.

Call us to discuss your unique needs and goals.