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Statesville North Carolina Legal Blog

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.

Obstacles fathers may face in family court

Some divorced or unmarried fathers might face obstacles when it comes to child support and custody. One father who was unable to keep up with child support payments lost his job, went to jail and had to declare bankruptcy. Another was faced with a protection order that said he tried to prevent his wife and children from driving away and had mood swings. A third, who had a child from a short relationship, only got a few days per month with his child. Some North Carolina fathers may face similar difficulties.

Fathers who cannot pay child support should still make an effort to pay as much as they are able. This may prevent a court from imposing the most severe punishments, such as jail time. Hiring an attorney and going to court to request a modification may be an option if the inability to pay is based on a change in circumstances such as losing a job although this modification will not affect past debt.

Advocates call for reducing legal BAC limit

New York's blood alcohol concentration limit of .08 percent is identical to that of 48 other states and the District of Columbia. However, Utah has passed new regulations that lower the legal limit to .05 percent, a significant reduction. Some polls show that most Americans support further reductions in the BAC limit in an attempt to reduce accidents. Every day, an average of 29 people lose their lives in car crashes connected to drunk driving with costs rising to over $44 billion annually.

There is a great deal of debate about the most effective ways to reduce the risks of drunk driving. Some reformers have urged reduction in BAC limits as well as the use of widespread sobriety checkpoints and the installation of ignition interlocks, which are devices that prevent a car from moving if the driver is over the legal limit. One poll showed that 55 percent of Americans supported a reduction to .05 from .08, the widespread national standard. The National Transportation Safety Board says that drivers are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash with a BAC of .05 to .079 than if they were completely sober.

Looting in the wake of Hurricane Michael

The devastation of hurricane Michael has left millions without power. A lack of power can mean that those who were unable to prepare for the storm with excess resources may become desperate.

Florida’s Bay County has established a curfew to prevent looting during this time. However, in North Carolina, looting and theft could rise as a result of this catastrophic storm.

Why parents might request a child custody modification

There are a number of reasons that separated or divorced parents in North Carolina might need to request a child custody modification. Since courts attempt to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, if a modification is determined to fulfill that criteria, the custody schedule may be changed.

If a parent believes the child is in danger, there may also be a child custody modification. The court will consider whether there has been domestic violence, whether the child is in immediate danger and whether the child is unwilling to stay in the home. A parent's move to another location might necessitate a change in custody. A court will take the parent's reason for moving into account as well as how it will change the custody schedule and the degree to which it will disrupt the child's life. The court will also consider whether the parents already have a plan in place for modifying the schedule.

Planning for divorce after age 50

Spouses over age 50 who are considering divorce should understand that separation could impact their ability to retire. However, there are steps that a North Carolina resident can take to minimize the potential damage. The first step is to obtain financial paperwork such as copies of tax returns and bank statements. These documents will help to determine who is liable for a debt or who is entitled to an asset.

Someone who is ending their marriage is also encouraged to do a credit check on themselves and their spouse. This may uncover hidden debts or assets that a spouse may have.

"Gray divorce" continues to rise

In North Carolina and across the country, a growing number of Americans are filing for divorce later in life. When people think of a couple deciding to legally separate, they may imagine young people with or without children. However, even as the divorce rate has held steady or declined for most demographics across the country, that rate has increased significantly for older Americans. Since 1990, the divorce rate for people 50 and over has doubled while that same rate has tripled for people 65 and older.

There are a number of factors that could contribute to the growth in later-in-life divorce, dubbed the "gray divorce revolution." In the first place, divorce is much more socially acceptable than it was in the past. In addition, many people have seen divorce operate within their own families. For example, the daughters of divorced parents are 60 percent more likely to end their own marriages while the sons of parents who split are 35 percent more likely to do so themselves.

Research suggests certain wedding dates may not be so lucky

For couples planning to tie the knot in North Carolina, there are many important decisions to make, one of which is the actual date of the wedding. Some individuals insist on picking a wedding day they believe is "lucky" for one reason or another. However, researchers in Australia say that some popular wedding dates might not be so lucky after all.

After looking at situations involving a million married couples, researchers concluded that one of the most popular dates for weddings, Feb. 14, is actually the worst day to get married. Eleven percent of the couples studied who got married on Valentine's Day ended up getting a divorce within five years. After almost a decade, 21 percent had untied the knot.

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