Separation Agreements

Charlotte Legal Marital Agreements

When a marriage hits the rocks and the spouses are contemplating separation, there are numerous issues that need to be discussed and resolved.  The most important issue prior to separation is determining which spouse should leave the marital residence.  The major issues following the separation of married parties are, child custody, child support, alimony or waiver thereof, and property distribution. Leaving the marital residence is a complicated and important decision.  Leaving the residence may be necessary for safety reasons, but if this is necessary, your decision as to whether or not to take the children with you will affect the custody outcome.  A party should not leave the marriage and the residence without first consulting with an attorney to obtain all the information necessary to make that all important first step.

Family Law and Divorce Attorneys in Charlotte

Additional topics that are addressed in Charlotte separation agreements: how taxes will be filed, how tax refunds are allocated, what happens to other marital rights, enforcement of the agreement, and many more.  The divorce and family law attorneys at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. have over 40 years of experience handling all of the issues encompassed within family law in North Carolina.  We can provide detailed information and advise you according to the nuances of your particular situation.  Our attorneys can draft comprehensive separation agreements that will resolve these issues without the need for judicial intervention. Or, in the event settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, the knowledge and experience of our skilled attorneys easily translates into zealous advocacy on your behalf before the Courts.  Contact us at (704) 844-1400 to discuss your specific matter.

Issues to Consider When Separating

CHILD CUSTODY

The issue of the children will be the most emotionally charged topic that will be discussed in any separation.  Our attorneys will discuss your unique circumstances and explain the best course of action for custody and/or visitation to achieve your goals and the best interests of the children.  The most important factors in determining custody are:

  • Who is the primary caretaker of the children?
  • Which parent best cooperates with the other?
  • What type of environment will the children be in each parent’s household?
  • Disciplinary style of both parents
  • Educational opportunities in each household
  • Is there some issue with a party that inhibits custody (frequent overnight travel, drug or alcohol use and violence, etc.)

We will discuss the custody and visitation schedules that are most appropriate considering all the circumstances and prepare an agreement that spells out the arrangement in easily understood language.  Our experienced Charlotte attorneys will negotiate on your behalf to achieve the agreement that you need and which will best promote the children’s interests.

The child custody portion of the agreement should also have commons sense rules for dealing with each other and the children.  The agreement should address how major decisions affecting the children are made, the right of the parents to access to medical and education records and personnel and notification requirements.  If necessary protective regulations may be included.

CHILD SUPPORT

In most cases, child support is based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and is calculated utilizing both parties’ gross monthly income, the cost of health insurance for the children, work-related childcare, and the number of overnights each parent spends with the children.  If either parent has a pre-existing support obligation for another child, that amount should be included in the support calculations as well (reducing the income of the parent with a prior obligation.) The amount of child support calculated pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines is conclusively presumed to meet the reasonable needs of the children. If, for some reason, the child support amount calculated under the Guidelines is unrealistic or inequitable, a parent may ask the Court to deviate from the Guidelines and order an amount of child support that meets the reasonable needs of the children.  Our family law attorneys in Charlotte will attempt to discover the true income and resources of the opposing party from voluntary discovery, public records and information provided by the spouse.  Unfortunately, if the other parent does not cooperate, litigation may be required to obtain the documents necessary to determine the true income.

ALIMONY

For over 20 years, alimony has been ordered to a dependent spouse without a required showing of fault on the part of the other spouse.  A party is entitled to alimony if that party is the “dependent spouse” and the other is the “supporting spouse.”  If the dependent spouse has needs which he or she is unable to pay with his or her own income, those needs may be met by and through alimony payments from the supporting spouse, provided that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay alimony after first paying his or her own reasonable expense.  Alimony is a complicated topic and there are numerous factors to be considered on a case-by-case basis as too whether alimony should be included in the agreement or waived.

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION

Property distribution (referred to as “Equitable Distribution” in North Carolina) is based upon the general presumption that assets acquired and debts incurred during the marriage and prior to the date of separation, are marital property and are therefore, to be divided equally between the parties. In other words, the presumption in North Carolina is that equal is equitable, that a 50/50 split between the parties is fair. There are numerous exceptions to this general presumption and many distributional factors that determine the actual division of marital property and debt.  Clients and their spouses can expect to complete a spreadsheet or form listing the assets and debts with additional information such as possession and date of separation value.  Documents supporting this data will be required.  Our family law lawyers in Charlotte at Weaver, Bennett & Bland will be able to assist you in obtaining the property settlement to which you are entitled.