Family Law and Appeals

Frequently asked questions

Family Law and Appeals

Family Law and Appeals

Frequently asked questions regarding Family Law

Family Law is the body of law devoted to families and children. It includes actions involving divorce, children, property and domestic abuse. Family Law is one of the most challenging areas of law in that emotions run at an all time high! The decisions made during the course of Family Law issues will affect you for the rest of your life. While there is no substitute for proper legal representation and receiving a personal consultation, the following questions and answers may provide you with some guidance.

Are there any exceptions to the one year separation requirement for obtaining an absolute divorce?

There are only two grounds for obtaining an absolute divorce in North Carolina. First, insanity while living apart for three consecutive years and second, the one year separation with the intent not to resume the marital relationship. So, the answer is, “no”. Often individuals confuse an absolute divorce with a divorce from bed and board.

What is a divorce from bed and board?

A divorce from bed and board is a separation granted by the court. It does not end the marriage. According to NCGS§50-7, there are six grounds for divorce from bed and board that may be claimed by the injured party. (1) abandonment, (2) malicious turning out of doors, (3)cruel and barbarous treatment, (4)offers such indignities that render his/her condition intolerable and life burdensome, (5)excessive use of drugs or alcohol, and (6)adultery.

But we have only been married a month, can’t we just get an annulment?

While you may hear about parties obtaining an annulment in the news, especially between celebrities, an annulment is only awarded in rare circumstances in North Carolina. A marriage may be “voidable” if one or both parties were under some kind of impediment that could render the marriage invalid. Bigamy renders a marriage “void”.

I am in the military; could a Domestic Violence case jeopardize my career?


The Lautenberg Amendment prohibits a person convicted of a domestic violence or who is subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a weapon. There is no exception for those individuals who serve our country.

While we are separated, will I have to pay post separation support?

Post Separation Support or “PSS” is similar to alimony, although it is only temporary. Like alimony, PSS requires that you are a supporting spouse and the other party is a dependent spouse. The amount of PSS is determined by preparation of a Financial Affidavit which includes a breakdown of your income and expenses. The award of PSS must be equitable considering all factors. The amount paid should address the shortfall between the income or income earning ability and the reasonable expenses of the dependent spouse.

How long will I receive or have to pay PSS?

PSS is paid by a supporting spouse to the earliest of: the date in the order for PSS; the entry of an order awarding or denying alimony; dismissal of the alimony claim; an entry of judgment of absolute divorce if no claim of alimony is pending; or termination due to cohabitation, remarriage or death of either spouse.

Do I get to keep the house?

The marital home is often a source of contention between parties. What happens to the marital home is determined by equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is one of the most complicated areas of Family Law. The Equitable Distribution Act presumes that property acquired after marriage is marital and an equal division is equitable. But it is far from simple. Prior to the divorce, property including debt, must be: identified, classified (marital, separate or divisible), a fair market value assigned, and ultimately distributed. Whether or not you are able to keep the house and under what terms is determined upon many factors.

What is an action for child custody?

Child custody establishes the right to children as it pertains to parents. The legal standard considers the best interests of the child. There is no longer a preference for custody to be awarded to the mother.

How much child support will I receive or have to pay?

Child support may be determined by agreement or through the Court. However, courts are not bound by child support or child custody agreements. The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines provide the basis for determining the amount of child support. You look at mom and dad’s income and each pays a percentage that their income bears to the total amount. This is a simplified explanation. There are many factors that come into consideration when determining child support including insurance costs and day care expenses. There may also be reasons to deviate from the standard guidelines. North Carolina Child Support is a great site devoted to facilitating the payment of child support.

How much will it cost to use an attorney?

That question is best answered during a personal consultation. We will listen to your individual facts and determine a fee based upon your information and needs. Of course, it is usually more affordable to resolve claims through agreements rather than litigation.