What is your consultation fee?

At Southpark Family Law, we ask for $350 for a one hour consultation. That represents a reduction of our usual hourly rate, but allows us to devote time and attention to your unique issues. During the consultation, the attorneys will listen to your concerns and questions, discuss the law with you, and talk about your options and choices related to the matters you are concerned about.

Is a consultation fee all I need to pay to retain your services?

No, the consultation is our reduced fee to meet with you for an hour. During that consultation, we will discuss with you billing options, depending on your situation.

What should I bring with me to my consultation?

If you have already received any court paperwork or a proposed agreement from your spouse, please plan to bring that with you or send in a copy by email if we’re speaking to you by phone.

How does your billing work?

At the end of each month we generate an invoice that details the work that has been done on your case for that month. On the first of the following month that invoice is sent to you, typically by email. On the invoice you will see whether you had enough funds in trust with us or whether you need to pay the invoice and replenish your trust account so we can continue working, uninterrupted, on your matter.

What is the legal definition of separation?

In North Carolina, legal separation is defined as the date one spouse moves out of the former marital residence without the intention of returning.

When can I get divorced?

In North Carolina, you can file for divorce one year and one day after you have legally separated.

How long does it take to get divorced in North Carolina?

In Mecklenburg County, where the majority of our matters are, it can take as little as 60 to  90 days to obtain a divorce after you have filed the first set of paperwork, so long as you have already been separated for one year prior to filing.

What is Equitable Distribution?

In North Carolina, this is the division of property that you have accumulated during the marriage, and still have on the date of your legal separation. Assets are considered marital unless one party argues the asset is a separate asset. Liabilities, such as credit card debt, are considered separate unless a party argues (and prevails) that the liability jointly benefitted the marriage. The presumption in North Carolina is that all marital and divisible property is split equally between the parties.

How long will I get alimony?

There is no formula for determining the duration of alimony. There are many factors that are used to determine an appropriate and reasonable amount of time in which to receive alimony.

Can my alimony terminate before it is scheduled to end?

Yes, typically alimony would terminate upon the death of either you or your spouse who is paying alimony. By law, it will also terminate upon marriage or cohabitation by you with another, but it can be negotiated.

How much in alimony will I receive from my spouse?

There is no formula in North Carolina to determine the amount of alimony you are entitled to receive. Several factors are used in determining the amount, including your respective incomes and budgets as well as the value of your separate estates (like an inheritance).

Is alimony taxable income to me?

Currently, the IRS does not count alimony as income for tax filing purposes.

Is alimony deductible from my income?

Currently, the IRS does not allow an obligor (person obligated to pay alimony) to reduce his or her taxable income by the amount of alimony paid.

What is the most common parenting arrangement?

Parenting arrangements are unique to every family. Hopefully, you and your co-parent can agree on a parenting schedule that works for you and your family. If not, the court may have to decide how much time your child will spend with each parent. Currently, in North Carolina laws there is no presumption in favor of either parent; however, the reality is that each local county likely treats parenting arrangements differently.

When can my child say where he or she wishes to live?

A judge can begin to take into account a child’s wishes about where to live when the child turns 13; however, by law, the child never gets to dictate where he or she will live. Ultimately, it will always be up to the parents or to a judge.

Will I have to pay child support?

In North Carolina, both parents have a financial obligation to provide for children born to the parents or adopted by them. Typically, a formula is used until the combined household income exceeds $350,000. In rare, low income cases, the formula may also not be applicable. Generally, in North Carolina, child support is paid until the latter of the child turning 18 years of age or graduating from high school.

If I remarry or my spouse remarries, does the new spouse’s income get included in the child support calculation?

Generally, child support is calculated based on the incomes of both parents, and not that of the new spouse. However, based on your specific circumstances, a judge could take a spouse’s income and expenses related to the household into consideration.

What if I cannot afford to pay child support?

Children are dependent on their parents to meet their basic needs. In North Carolina, the expectation is that you pay child support before you pay any of your other expenses, including but not limited to, your rent, mortgage, food, car payment, gasoline, etc. If you fail to pay and a court finds you had the ability to pay support, you could be faced with spending some time in jail.

If you have questions that were not answered here, we invite you to contact Southpark Family Law to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you!