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Do’s and Don’ts in NC Divorce

  • Emotional Issues
  • Legal Issues
  • Custody and Other Parental Issues

Emotional Issues

DO understand that if you’re feeling sad, angry, anxious, lost or helpless, you are experiencing the normal emotions most people have when going through a divorce, custody battle or other family legal issue.

DO seek help from a qualified counselor if you feel you need help with emotional distress. Also seek support from friends and family. When family break-ups or disagreements become legal matters, the process is usually emotionally challenging. Choose productive ways to deal with your distress. Resist the temptation to turn to less positive coping options such as drugs or alcohol – a DUI on your record could be costly in many ways, particularly in a custody case.

DO choose an attorney who is compassionate to your emotional needs. While it is not his or her job to be your psychotherapist, an attorney who understands and empathizes with your situation can make the family legal process less stressful. A good, supportive client-attorney relationship helps insure a positive legal resolution to your case.

DON’T lose control of your emotions when dealing with your ex-spouse. Be as reasonable as you can. Becoming frustrated or angry and striking out rarely accomplishes anything good and most often complicates the situation for you.

DON’T exacerbate tensions by talking negatively about your spouse, especially around your children and around other people – even people who are not directly involved.

DON’T draw lines in the sand, make threats or issue ultimatums when dealing with your ex-spouse. Never use violence or physical force. Using these tactics could result in a protective order against you which restricts your freedom and reflects badly on you to the Court.

DON’T let an ex-spouse purposefully anger you into reacting inappropriately over the phone so they can record it and use it against you. If this begins to happen, just say goodbye and hang up. If the altercation occurs in person – likely in front of a witness for your ex – you win the game by just saying goodbye and leaving immediately without comment.

Legal Issues

DO keep records and document anything that you think might be important. Make notes of dates, phone conversations and other events.

DO keep a journal for your attorney. Memory can fail you especially during trying times. If you designate it as “Notes for My Attorney,” it is protected by attorney-client privilege and generally cannot be discoverable by the other side. Record incidents and events from your daily life, especially problems that arise with your ex-spouse.

DO copy documents from the last several years such as investment, tax, mortgage, bank and income records. You might also want to copy family photos.

DO create an inventory. Making a video of your home and its contents, or at least taking pictures, can prevent items from disappearing and makes dividing the property an easier task. Make a written list of all your financial assets and debts.

DO record your phone conversations and always assume that your conversations are being recorded – especially with an adversarial ex-spouse. In North Carolina, it is legal to record a phone conversation so long as one of the parties is aware of the recording. The laws in other states differ.

DON’T leave your lists, inventories, journal or notes where you ex-spouse or children can find them.

DON’T share a lawyer with your ex-spouse or hire a lawyer who is a friend of your ex-spouse (even a shared friend) or who is connected to your ex-spouse in any other way – such as a business associate or member of his or her family. Even if you start out on good terms, there’s a strong probability the situation will not end well.

DON’T try to hide assets or anything else from your attorney. This can come back to bite you sooner or later and can result in you being held in contempt. Even years later, your divorce can be reopened for the deception.

DON’T rely on the advice of friends regarding family legal issues no matter how well-meaning they are. They do not know the law.

DON’T try to be your own attorney. Family law is complicated and novice missteps can have devastating consequences. Find an experienced attorney who specializes in family law and who keeps up with current changes to those laws. You would not want your general practitioner to do your heart surgery.

DON’T put yourself into situations with your ex-spouse that make it possible for them to falsely accuse you of violence, harassment, stalking or any other threatening behavior. If this ever happens, bring a witness to all future encounters.

DON’T put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want a judge to see. Don’t say anything over the phone or in the company of others you wouldn’t want a judge to hear.

Custody and Other Parental Issues

DO find ways to support your children in a legal family process. Try to see things from their prospective and make them feel as secure as possible.

DO be calm and respectful to your ex-spouse in front of your children.

DO make your children feel comfortable, secure and at home in your living space if you are the parent who moves into separate quarters. Also take steps to make them feel comfortable when they are in the home of your spouse.

DO make sure your children know they are not the reason for the divorce or separation or whatever legal family disagreement you are having.

DON’T put your children in the middle of your legal situation or use them as bargaining tools or push them to pick sides.

DON’T attempt to send messages to your ex-spouse via your children. Communicate directly with your ex and leave your children out of the conflict.

DON’T attempt to get information about your ex-spouse’s activities from your children.

DON’T discuss the case with your children. They are unlikely to be mature enough to grasp the legal matters involved. You will only create anxiety and insecurity for them. Further, chances are good your behavior will find its way into a courtroom where it will be held against you.

DON’T interact with your children in any way if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

DON’T bring new love interests into your home to spend the night when your children are present. Generally, it is a good idea to keep your children and your love life separate until your case is settled.


Greenville NC Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Cynthia Mills

Your future will be determined by the legal action you take today! Insure that you take the right path and secure what matters most to you and your family. Let me help you through the uncertainty and emotional stress of your family legal crisis with skill, experience and dedicated representation. Email or call me at 252-752-6161.