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Charlotte Family Law Blog

How a legal separation differs from divorce

Some North Carolina couples who are splitting up might decide they want a legal separation instead of a divorce. A couple might also want a legal separation while they decide whether or not they want to go through with a divorce. A legal separation has many of the same elements as a divorce including child custody and visitation. Child and spousal support may also be involved, but when there is a legal separation instead of a divorce, they are sometimes referred to as separation maintenance.

One aspect of a legal separation that might differ from divorce is property division. If a legal separation is temporary, property division is generally not involved, and property and debt acquired during this time is usually considered to be shared marital property.

3 reasons why you might need alimony

Divorce is often expensive in and of itself. You will need to find a new place to live, hire a lawyer and take time attending to the demands of the situation. Expense will be a particularly concerning topic for any spouse whose ex supported him or her. For this individual, a separation could spell personal and financial instability. These are situations in which alimony might be the right solution.

According to Forbes, there are 400,000 people receiving spousal support in the United States. There are several criteria that could make it an option for you. The following three are some of the most common reasons justifying alimony after a divorce.

Amicable divorce myths, pitfalls for the unwary

While an attractive proposition for a divorcing couple in Charlotte, an amicable end of a marriage is not always to the benefit of both parties. Whether through a no-fault divorce or an uncontested finding of fault, one or both spouses could end up with a lopsided property division. The couple may end up returning to court as well to revisit orders.

The solution is found in seeking accurate information upfront. A number of myths and poorly thought-out advice can sabotage a divorce case before it begins. One of these myths regards no-fault divorce. The myth is that since both parties have agreed to split without a finding of fault, then misconduct cannot be used in property division decisions. The reality is that misconduct can be brought up in a no-fault case, and judges can use it to make decisions.

American fathers and parenting

Fathers in North Carolina and the rest of the nation have been taking a more significant role in the care of their children and in completing chores in the home. While the number of single and stay-at-home fathers has been increasing over the last few decades, a rising number of children are becoming adults without having lived with a father.

A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that nearly the same number of fathers and mothers viewed parenting as an essential part of their identity. Fifty-four percent of fathers also enjoyed the advantages of being a parent, compared to 52 percent of mothers.

Deciding whether to file taxes jointly with a prenup

Many couples sign pre- or postnuptial agreements in order to keep their finances separate and their assets clearly delineated. Such agreements are typically beneficial for both parties, but there can be complications and questions that arise when you and your spouse are not sharing your finances entirely. One of the most common issues is deciding how to complete your taxes in light of your prenup.

You might wonder whether it is ideal to file jointly or separately, and the answer depends on a range of different factors. You should consult with your spouse and a legal representative, if necessary, to determine which route is best suited to your tax and financial needs.

Shared physical custody is gaining popularity

There has been an emerging trend toward shared child custody arrangements for divorced parents. Historically, North Carolina family courts would most often award primary physical custody to the mother, with the father being given visitation rights on weekends or pursuant to another schedule. This is slowly changing.

Many studies have shown that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. One that appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health covered 150,000 children, and the researchers came to the conclusion that children who spend roughly an equal amount of time with both parents after a divorce have less stress than those who live primarily with one. A group of family law professionals in the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts came to a similar conclusion, and they stated that the best interests of children are well served by shared parenting relationships.

Requirements for deducting alimony payments

North Carolina estranged couples who have concerns about how a divorce may affect their tax obligations should be aware of a decision by the United States Tax Court. The ruling established that simply giving money to an ex-spouse does not meet the criteria for an alimony deduction. It must be included in a legal separation or divorce agreement.

The person who pays alimony may deduct the amount from his or her taxable income, while the recipient of the money is required to report it as income. In order for alimony to be used as a tax deduction, multiple requirements must be met. The payment must be made according to a divorce or separation agreement, and the payment cannot be specified as nondeductible or nontaxable. At the time the payment is made, the parties cannot be residing in the same household. Also, once the recipient dies, the payer's duty to make the payment ends.

Child support agreements

North Carolina parents who are divorcing will likely have to deal with the issue of child support during the proceedings. They can choose to work with one another and come to an agreement, take part in alternative dispute resolution proceedings or litigate the issue with the judge making the final determination.

Parents can use informal negotiations to resolve all of their child support issues, such as payment amount, how often the payments should be made and for how long. Their negotiations can take place with or without legal representation. Many parents may choose to let their attorneys negotiate for them. Other parents may prefer to negotiate on their own and only consult an attorney before they finalize an agreement.

What you should know about alimony

For North Carolina couples embarking upon the divorce process, alimony figures among the numerous concerns they now face. People want to know if they will have to pay alimony or, conversely, if they may be entitled to receive payments.

Learning some basic facts about alimony can help you get a better idea of what to expect. However, more specific calculations, such as the duration and amount of payments, may depend on your specific circumstances.

How to handle your mortgage in a divorce

If you and your spouse purchased a home together, property division can be a particularly complex issue to tackle. You will first need to determine whether one of you will maintain the home or if you intend to sell it.

Experts recommend selling after a divorce, but regardless of what you choose to do, there are a few things you should know about handling a joint mortgage after you file for divorce