Adoption is the legal process of establishing a parent/child relationship in which one person takes the child of another person as his or her own and assumes complete legal custody and responsibility for that child. The biological parent(s) give up their parental rights and responsibilities severing all legal ties to the child. The adopted child has the same legal rights as a biological child of the adoptive parent(s).
North Carolina laws allow a spouse to sue a third party who interferes with the sanctity of his or her marriage. These are civil actions called Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation lawsuits. They are tried in Superior Court instead of in Family Court because they are civil “torts.” A tort is defined as a civil wrong for which the injured party is entitled to compensation. Alienation of Affection torts are commonly referred to by family lawyers as “heart balm torts.”
Alimony refers to payments made by one spouse to another spouse during the divorce process and after divorce. Today, it is more often referred to as spousal support. Spousal support is awarded by a judge to insure that dependent spouses can maintain the same standard of living to which they became accustomed during their marriage.
In North Carolina, family law cases are tried in District Courts. If you believe the District Court made a mistake in deciding your case, you can ask a higher court – the North Carolina Court of Appeals – to review the decision. Also, in some cases, you can request review by the Supreme Court of North Carolina.
Child custody arrangements determine how separated or divorced parents will share the rights and responsibilities of their children’s lives and welfare. The focus of a custody arrangement is always the best interests of the child.
Parents are required by North Carolina law to financially support their children. Their obligation does not end until their children are 18 years old or have graduated from high school, whichever occurs last. If a child is not mentally or physically able to support himself or herself, the parents may be required to continue with financial support.
“Absolute divorce” is simply the legal terminology for “divorce” and is granted in North Carolina after one year of separation. North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state, so neither you nor your spouse is required to prove any marital wrong-doing.
Victims of physical and emotional abuse are protected in North Carolina by specific Domestic Violence laws. If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children. First, call the police or sheriff’s department if you are in immediate danger. Call 911 or go to the Emergency Room if you are injured.
Mediation is a guided negotiation which helps separated or divorcing spouses reach a fair settlement without having to endure a trial. It is conducted in an informal, private setting instead of in a courtroom. The mediator is an objective neutral third party trained to facilitate productive conversations and move the ex-spouses toward resolving their issues. Mediators in North Carolina must be certified if the mediation is court-ordered.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two individuals who plan to marry – which they sign prior to their marriage. It can contain a variety of issues relating to marital matters in the event the couple separates, divorces or a spouse dies. The agreement becomes effective at the time the couple marry.
If you and your ex-spouse have not worked out how your property will be divided in a separation agreement, the alternative option is to file a lawsuit and have your property divided by the Court. This process is known as the “Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets.”
When a couple – or one of the spouses – decides the marriage is over, it is smart to work out a separation agreement if the parties can agree on the terms.
A parent has a constitutionally protected civil right to the custody, control and care of his or her children. When a parent abandons those responsibilities, the court may take the permanent and irreversible legal action of terminating that parent’s relationship with his or her children. It is considered to be the most extreme legal action in family law.