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Statesville North Carolina Legal Blog

Gray divorce presents special financial challenges for couples

In North Carolina and across the US, the divorce rate for older individuals has been steadily increasing. In fact, a Pew Research study found that gray divorce, or divorce among couples ages 50 and older, has increased by 109 percent over the past 25 years. Meanwhile, the divorce rate for couples between the ages of 25 and 39 has dropped by 21 percent over the same period of time.

Researchers have several theories for why gray divorce is trending upward, including boredom, empty-nest syndrome and the financial independence of women. However, whatever the reasons, divorce among older couples can present several age-specific challenges, especially when it comes to finances and retirement. For one thing, the future earning potential of one or both partners is more limited than that of people who divorce in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Meanwhile, the state in which the couple resides could have a major impact on the way the marital assets, including the marital home, are divided.

High school teacher charged with DWI, resisting arrest

On Feb. 7, North Carolina authorities arrested a high school teacher on suspicion of drunk driving after she was involved in a one-vehicle accident. The accident occurred on Interstate 77 in Charlotte.

According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the defendant was taking the Interstate 77 ramp to Interstate 85 when she veered off the highway and smashed her car into some trees. When responding troopers reached the scene of the accident, they said they detected the scent of alcohol and noticed that the defendant's eyes were red and glassy.

A brighter future begins with your record expungement

There are new expungement rules in North Carolina, which is good news for people burdened with certain kinds of criminal charges.

If you qualify for record expungement, you will be able to have a clean criminal record and, in turn, a much brighter future.

How to uphold the best interests of a child

When divorcing parents are creating a custody and visitation plan, the best interests of the child come first. North Carolina courts will look at a variety of factors to determine if an order is in fact in a child's best interest. For example, they will look to see if it creates a sense of consistency in a child's life.

This could mean keeping a child in the same school district or close to the same family members. Depending on how old a child is, he or she may be allowed to have input in the matter. In cases where a child is a toddler or still very young, a judge will tend to listen more to the child's primary caregiver. However, this assumes that the child would be safe from harm by living with that parent in the future.

The unique factors of divorce among couples 50 and over

Most older spouses in North Carolina who've been together for many years seem like they're on fairly stable ground marriage-wise. However, divorce among Americans 50 and over has been dramatically on the rise over the past quarter century. In fact, divorce rates have either leveled off or fallen among other age groups. Also, more than half of all "gray divorces" involve couples who had been wed for 20 years or more.

Oftentimes, older couples separate because they have simply grown apart over the years. The increased importance of a sense of happiness and fulfillment, the disappearance of the stigma associated with leaving a marriage and significant economic gains made by women are some of the other possible reasons for the spike in gray divorces. Seniors are also increasingly meeting like-minding people through online dating websites and apps.

Disparity in attractiveness increases divorce risk, studies show

A North Carolina husband with a wife who is significantly more attractive than he is might face a higher divorce risk. According to multiple studies, a disparity in attractiveness can be linked to a less successful marriage.

One study found that when women consider themselves more attractive than their partners, they are less likely to be committed to the relationship and more likely to flirt with others. Other research found that the jealousy of the less attractive partner often is what contributes to the end of the relationship.

Options for the marital home during divorce

When people in North Carolina make the decision to divorce, they may find it a difficult choice to leave the family home behind. This is especially true for parents who want to minimize disruption and changes for their children. However, as much as the marital home has significant sentimental value, it is also a major financial asset. Unlike bank accounts, retirement funds and similar properties, however, real estate cannot easily be separated into two pieces. This is why many divorcing couples choose to resolve the issue by putting the home on the market.

Selling the home allows the couple to use the proceeds to pay off the balance of the mortgage and divide any remaining funds as part of the divorce settlement. However, when one person wants to remain in the family home, either long-term or for a limited period to benefit the children, there are some important decisions to consider. In most cases, the remaining spouse will need to buy out the equity stake of the other partner in the property.

How a court determines child custody

North Carolina parents who are going through a divorce may have questions about how their living arrangements will affect the court's decision on custody. Courts have specific standards for acceptable living accommodations that vary by the court, state and judge.

The child's gender is one consideration. For example, if a parent and the child are opposite sexes, the court might require the parent's home to offer separate spaces that give the child privacy. The child may be required to have his or her own bathroom. The court also takes the sexes of the siblings into account, especially if they will be sharing a bedroom.

How to modify spousal support after divorce

Couples who go through a divorce negotiate what they would like regarding spousal support, child custody, visitation rights and an equitable share of any property distribution. Through a process of discussion and compromise, couples can arrive at a divorce agreement that reasonably satisfies each party. 

It is important for divorcing couples to understand that the court determines whether to grant spousal support. Courts also determine the amount of support, as well as which spouse must pay support.

Tips for parallel parenting

Some parents in North Carolina who are getting a divorce might be able to co-parent effectively, but others may not. However, they may still want their child to have a relationship with the other parent that is not marred by the conflict between the two of them. Studies show it is this conflict that is the hardest for children to deal with when their parents get divorced. Parents in this situation may want to try parallel parenting instead of co-parenting.

Parallel parents usually agree on major issues, such as education and religion. Unlike co-parents, who generally communicate a great deal, they do not want direct communication. They will need a structured plan to avoid this. They may also want to agree to share calendars or use email to exchange schedules. Coparents need a plan as well, but it can be more flexible.

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