DIY Divorce? Things to consider before you handle your own Separation & Divorce

DIY Divorce? Things to consider before you handle your own Separation & Divorce

Things to consider before you handle your own Separation & Divorce

Separation and Divorce takes time

You cannot get divorced in North Carolina unless you have been separated for 1 calendar year.  Therefore, the process of separation and divorce in NC is by definition a lengthy process.  Participants get tired quickly and the process seems to never end as you think about it day in and day out.  You need a professional advisor who can assist you in making the decisions that will help you accomplish your short term and long term goals. 

If a separation and divorce is contentious it can take a significant amount of time to gather and review all the necessary information and documentation before you can proceed.  If you are going to make sure that you obtain a positive outcome, you are going to need to do a lot of research and invest a significant amount of time.  When you combine this with the emotion issues that you will be dealing with it will inevitably be difficult to manage the process objectively.  You need help to make sound choices and decisions.

You don’t know what you don’t know

A lawyer is aware of many things that go on throughout this process and things that happen to families and couples during this process.  Frankly your lawyer will be aware of issues that you didn’t even know you should consider.  For example, you may not know the tax implications of your divorce.  Is the amount of financial support reasonable under all the circumstances?  It can be difficult for someone to handle all of the issues past, present, and future.  Legal advisors know how the process works and handle these matters day in and day out and can help protect you as you embark on the next chapter of your life.

Contested Divorces are Messy

You should never be involved in a contested divorce alone.  At the end of your marriage, you may feel very alone, but there is no reason for you to embark on a fight for the rest of your life alone.  You need a lawyer to assist you in deciding what to fight for and when to fight and how to work out a fair and reasonable agreement.  You should not fall into a trap of agreeing to something you aren’t sure of just to be done or to get the divorce over with.  Conversely you don’t want to draw the matter out too long or go before a judge just because you can’t talk about it.  Working with a lawyer can help you to resolve everything in a favorable manner, which can actually save you money long term.

Contact McCollum Law, PC to arrange an opportunity to speak with an experience attorney who can help you through this process and help you plan for the next step in your future.  We are here to help you and a consultation is just a phone call away.

7 Things You Should Never Do During a Marital Separation and Divorce

7 Things You Should Never Do During a Marital Separation and Divorce

  • Do Not Neglect Your Finances: Separation and Divorce can be difficult and expensive! Watch your spending and keep track of your finances.  Create a monthly budget and make sure to stick to it.  Keep in mind that information related to how you spend money may be used against you so make smart choices with your financial decisions.
  • Never Hide Assets or Money: Everyone is tempted to hide assets or put money aside that they believe they are entitled to that they would rather not “share”.  Disclosure of assets is required under North Carolina law. By hiding this information, you can put yourself at risk and can lead to serious consequences. The better course of action is to be open and honest., If this leads to a fight in court, then so be it.
  • Do Not Use Joint Accounts: Joint accounts are problematic for a number of reasons including access to a wealth of information such as what stores you go to, where you get your dry cleaning,  and what you are spending money on to name a few. Be sure to establish your own accounts to protect your assets and privacy.  Consider beginning a relationship with a new financial institution to provide greater separation and  keep confusion to a minimum.  Additionally, obtain new credit cards so that you have your own independent accounts.
  • Do Not Rely On Advice From Family and Friends: Your family and friends mean well and want to help  but they are not legal experts.  Please seek the advice of a legal professional to be sure to protect yourself, your finances, and your children, if applicable.
  • Stay Off Social Media: Releasing your anger feels good and informing people know what you are going through can be therapeutic. However, there can be serious legal implications using social media and can have dire implications for your case moving forward.  The safest option is the avoid social media altogether until your divorce is finalized.
  • Do Not Be Overly Contentious: People who argue during this time tend to have longer and more expensive legal battles.  Instead of fighting over everything, look at the big picture, decide what major points are important to you, and try to move toward a long term goal.  Even if you don’t think your spouse can be mature through this process, you can control your responses and move forward in a positive direction for yourself and your family.
  • Don’t Go it on Your Own — Retain an Attorney: Folks are tempted to do it themselves and avoid the cost of a lawyer. However, you need a counselor on your side who can give you good advice, guide you through the process, and can tell you the truth about your case.  You need someone who knows the system and can fight on your behalf.  It’s worth the money!

Marital Separation and Divorce is a stressful and emotional process that can last longer than you would like. Take the necessary steps to reduce that stress by hiring an attorney. By obtaining legal representation, you can control who is advocating on your behalf and ensure that you come out of this difficult process with a fair outcome for you and your family.

Our firm can handle all aspects of the divorce process for you, from separation agreements to child custody and support. The Attorneys at McCollum Law, PC are here to assist you.  Contact us at (919) 861-4120 today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys and learn what our firm can do to support you.

Top 5 Things To Do Before Separating

Top 5 Things To Do Before Separating

Separation and Divorce are difficult concepts for any person or couple to handle. In addition, the time in your life surrounding these events or concepts can be one of the most traumatic times for anyone. Divorce is a difficult personal and legal process and it can be especially complicated in North Carolina as we do have a legal separation phase. As with any major life decision, you could benefit from thinking things through and not making a rash or emotional decision. Here are the Top 5 Things to Consider prior to a separation before divorce.

At McCollum Law, PC we believe in looking at all factors and working with the individual for the best outcome possible. Separation doesn’t always mean divorce; many couples take time. Sometimes the best and most healthy thing that can be done is to take a step back, to evaluate one’s life and one’s needs and to look at options for the future. Sometimes people take a step back and reevaluate and determine they want to work on their marriage. Often times people move further apart and a divorce becomes a reality. Regardless, it is important to make cool headed and smart decisions. To that end we have come up with 5 Things everyone should do before separating.

1- Evaluate Where You Are

It is important to know where you are in your relationship. Was there an event that made you consider separating or ending your relationship? Has this been something that has been coming for a long time? Have you already tried working on your relationship and that proved futile? Everyone is at a different place in their relationship and every relationship is different. It is important to begin this journey knowing where you are personally and what should be done before seeking to make changes. Often meeting with a counselor or mental health professional can be a valuable tool, even if you only meet with them once or a few times to help you organize your thoughts in a safe atmosphere. Sometimes relationship counseling can be helpful if you are trying to make this decision as a couple.

2. Talk to a Lawyer

Earlier we talked about not making an emotional decision. Don’t do that. Many people just want to leave, and they move out of their home before ever consulting a lawyer. Moving out of the marital home has legal and other consequences, before taking this action you need to understand these consequences and make an informed decision. This is true of all the decisions you make in regard to separation and divorce. Talking to an attorney is a valuable tool, even if in the end you and your spouse don’t separate or you do and work things out without hiring a lawyer. Getting advice in the beginning can help you understand the implications of the actions you take and can save you unnecessary headaches and trauma.

3. Decide What is Most Important to You

It is valuable to decide early on what is the most important thing for you. Sometimes people go and look for a job and they take a job with a lower annual salary and say yeah but the benefits are amazing. They took a job for less money because the benefits were more important to them, right? It is important to understand when separating what is the most important factor or factor(s) to you. In some cases, custody of minor children may be absolutely the most important thing. In other cases, finances may be the most important aspect of your situation. You may have a business that you want to protect. In some cases, it is your home, and staying in your home is the most important thing. Regardless of what your issue or issues are it is very important to identify them right away because they are going to frame the rest of the discussion. Most often separation and divorces are negotiations and you need to know what are the big-ticket items for you.

4. Make a Plan

I had a client ask me recently if she took action to plan for her separation was that wrong? Short answer… NO. People do this every day, I just told you above to meet with a lawyer! You should plan for any major action in your life. When I go to purchase a new automobile, I look at my finances, I make plans and think about affording the car payment. You should of course take action prior to separating, prior to having a conversation with your spouse, he or she is likely planning, or they sure will start.

One of the most important things, I like to advise all my clients to do is to protect their credit and assets prior to making a decision about separation. You should definitely freeze your credit for example (I can provide a link to how to do that). Other things include opening personal bank accounts, limited access to funds in joint bank accounts, closing credit accounts and card, taking credit accounts off joint bank accounts. There are many other things you can do to prepare for a separation, and when you meet with an attorney they can go over many things you should and should not do.

5. Talk to Your Spouse

When you are ready to make a decision you should sit down and have an honest conversation with your spouse. Divorce can be a very ugly process and it helps to try and start things off and fairly and with as little contention as possible. Often this doesn’t work, and in some cases, this is just not possible, however in cases where it is sometimes starting out with an honest conversation can be helpful. In cases where it isn’t possible, taking steps to protect yourself is a must. If you are concerned for your safety please discuss this with your attorney so that they can obtain the legal protections you need for yourself and your family.

Like any major life decision proper planning and sound decision making can make all the difference. If we can assist you with this process please feel free to contact our office.

5 Important Things to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

5 Important Things to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

There a many factors and important things that an attorney can tell you about the process of separation and divorce in North Carolina. Every person thinking about separating should meet with a lawyer before making any major decisions regarding their assets, their family or their lives. All divorces are different just like all relationships in life are different. Talking to a lawyer will help you figure out how much assistance, if any, you need in this process and how best you can proceed. At McCollum Law, PC we believe in looking at all factors and working with the individual for the best outcome possible.  Here are 5 things to consider:

1 – How To Start

The law in North Carolina provides two ways or methods to obtain a divorce: (1) A full year’s separation from your spouse (which means 1 year and 1 day) and (2) incurable insanity by either party. As one can imagine the overwhelming majority of divorces are granted based on a year’s separation. Establishing separation is not a difficult process, but to protect yourself, you should seek the counsel of a lawyer before making a decision in this regard.

2 – Going to Court or Not

You don’t have a to go to court and fight. While someone will need a judge to sign off on your divorce at some point, you don’t need to go to court and have decisions made about your family or your assets. Generally speaking, Separation Agreements can be very useful to parties going through a separation and divorce. You can address and agree on areas such as how to distribute your assets, how to handle debts, alimony/ spousal support, custody and child support (although custody and child support can always be reopened and changed by a court). It is important to know that you can work together with attorneys and your spouse through this process to address many, if not all, of these issues yourselves and save the difficult and often expensive process of handling them in court.

3 – Child Custody

It is important to note that if you are unable to make a decision regarding the custody and care of your children and child support, a judge will be making that decision for you. This will be based on the judge’s determination of what is in the best interest of the child. North Carolina law does not favor the mother over the father or visa versa. It is important to note that child support and visitation or custody aren’t necessarily related, meaning because one parent isn’t payment child support doesn’t mean they will not be able to have visitation with the child. Generally speaking, when couples are able to make these decisions for themselves it provides a better solution for all involved.

An added point, if you believe that you are entitled to child support, you need to file for it in court as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean you can’t file and agree prior to going to court, but if you are forced to go to court, the judge will award child support and it will be retroactive to the date of filing, that means you will get the support starting from when you filed your complaint for child support, not the date that your court date occurs.

4 – Adultery

If you have committed adultery, please do not admit this without speaking to an attorney. Regardless of your situation and regardless of any desire that you may have to come clean or be honest, and this may be what you decide to do, it is better for you to know the legal implications of disclosing this information. Adultery is actually illegal in North Carolina, there are in some cases actions that your spouse can take against the person you committed adultery with, and there are other implications, that can put you at a severe disadvantage, especially when it comes to alimony payments. At McCollum Law, PC we do not pass judgement, but we do believe that everyone should make important decisions with an adequate understanding of the facts and the legal implications of what they are doing.

5 – Dating During Separation

Many people ask about dating during separation. This is a complicated question and one that you should discuss with your legal advisor. There are a number of complications related to dating. Dating during separation can be used as evidence against you in proceedings relating to alimony if it is evidence that you committed adultery during the marriage, you should speak to a lawyer to understand if dating puts you at risk in this regard. There can also be implications in your custody dispute, for example having an overnight guest in the presence of your children can be grounds for denial of your custody or your visitation application and/ or rights. Again, this is a complicated area, but an area that requires your attention and we would advise you to speak with our office or your legal counsel before dating.

Divorce is very complicated in this and any state, this list is meant to give you some ideas about areas that are important to consider, but it is in no way and exhaustive list of matters to understand or things to consider about this subject. We encourage you to seek legal counsel to fully understand your rights and the implications of your part and future actions. Please call our office and set up a time for you to come in and meet with us.