Areas of Practice-Family Law 

Adoption

 

The adoption process takes place through the court system, and the exact procedures depend on the nature of the adoption which can sometimes make the process complex. Adopting has an impact on your estate and your other children’s inheritance.

 

Although you are not required to hire the services of an attorney, it is best to seek legal advice before starting with the adoption process. If you have questions in mind about the adoption process, whether you are adopting a child or placing a child for adoption,  contact our office for proper guidance. We are ready to help you throughout the process. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

 

Alimony & Post Separation Support 

 

 

In North Carolina, there are two types of spousal support potentially available to the “dependent spouse." The first type is Post Separation Support, which is intended to be temporary support used to meet the immediate needs of the dependent spouse. The second type is Alimony, which can be longer in duration and is typically dependent on a variety of factors.

Such factors can include marital misconduct, the length of the marriage, the parties’ needs, and the parties’ earning capacities. Whether Post Separation Support or Alimony is awarded, the amount and duration of the award is determined based on a the consideration of a number of factors found in Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

 

Child Custody

 

Child custody refers to the rights and obligations between parents, regarding their children, after a divorce, legal separation, or paternity decree. There are two independent types of custody, physical and legal custody.

 

Physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent is permitted physically with a child. This may be sole, primary, or joint custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making rights regarding a child’s health, education, and welfare. It, too, may be sole, primary, or joint custody.

 

Often, the Court designates one parent as the primary physical custodian, giving the other parent a schedule of temporary custody and visitation. In some cases, however, the Court orders a joint legal and physical custody, by which, both parents have substantial access to their children.

The Court’s decision in a particular case is based upon, among other things, the child’s wishes, each parent’s historical nurturing role, and the relative circumstances of the parties going into the future. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

 

Child Support

 

If you need to file for divorce, or are currently going through the divorce process, you may need to consider a child support agreement. In order to ensure that your child is properly cared for, child support arrangements must be fair for both the child and parents. Child support is an important element in any divorce that involves minor children.

 

Because child custody is often the most litigated issue in family law, approaching the intricacies involved in these matters requires a strong knowledge of the rules and statutes that dictate the process for awarding physical and legal custody. We represent individuals in traditional and nontraditional families, with child custody issues, and we strive to help all of our clients resolve conflicts and achieve what is in the best interest of their child(ren) and families. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help with any issue or dispute you may have with child custody; please contact us for assistance.

 

Civil Appeals

Despite their best efforts, trial judges occasionally make mistakes. In such situations, it may be prudent for a litigant to file a civil appeal with the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Pursuant to Rule 3 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure, a “Notice of Appeal” must be filed within very strict jurisdictional time limits; failure to timely file a Notice of Appeal will likely result in dismissal. Therefore, it is important that you immediately consult an appeals lawyer after an adverse ruling. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

Divorce

Making the decision to divorce is never an easy one. If you are considering divorce or dealing with a legal problem involving your family, we understand the stress and uncertainty you are facing. It may be hard to envision a future life in which you will be happy, involved in healthy relationships and ready to move forward with calm and hope. Sound legal counsel from a friendly, caring attorney can make all the difference.

Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help you through this difficult and emotional time of your life; please contact us for assistance.

 

Equitable Distribution

 

In North Carolina, if you (or your spouse), has property that you feel you are entitled to as part of your divorce, you must file a claim for equitable distribution in the courts.  You may also negotiate this as part of your separation agreement. However, whichever way you go, a thorough understanding of the equitable distribution statute is a must.

Property division, in North Carolina, is known as equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is a four part process: (1) identify the assets and debts; (2) assets and debts must be classified as separate, marital, or divisible; (3) assets and debts must be valued; and (4) assets and debts must be equitably distributed among the spouses. To preserve your right to equitable distribution, you must file for equitable distribution before you are divorced. If you do not have a claim pending at the time you are divorced, you will not be able to later seek equitable distribution. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

Legitimacy

 

Legitimation is the process of legalizing the status of a child born out of wedlock.  This legal procedure places a child in a more favorable position in the eyes of the law than mere establishment of paternity or establishment of a duty to support the child by a putative father—a man who may be a child's father, but who was not married to the child's mother before the child was born and has not established the fact that he is the father in a court proceeding.  A legitimized child becomes the legal offspring of a putative father and the natural mother for all purposes, including inheritance. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

 

Pre & Post Marital Agreements

 

A prenuptial agreement "prenup" is a legal contract you enter into before a marriage. The purpose of a prenup is to ensure that you and your spouse-to-be enter into the marriage with a clear understanding on the division of finances in the event of a divorce or death. The terms of a prenup can vary, depending on your mutual wishes. It can cover how to split property purchased during the marriage. It can also cover how to split items you both owned prior to the marriage. Prenups can also decide who will pay specific bills over the course of the marriage.

 

A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract you enter into after marriage. The purpose of the agreement is to settle financial and marital issues that are present within the marriage. A postnup can cover current and future debts. It can cover who owns which assets. It can also address mundane issues like the household budget and day-to-day concerns, such as how much time one spouse can devote to hobbies or hanging out with friends. A postnuptial agreement can exclude business debt from a future divorce. However, it cannot include a waiver of a spouse's obligation to pay child support

 

Whether you are planning to get married or are already, you can trust us to negotiate an agreement that protects your rights and can withstand legal challenges in court. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

Separation & Property Settlement Agreements

All issues surrounding a couple's legal separation and divorce can be resolved through a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement with the exception of the couple's actual divorce, which can only be granted by a court. For example, the couple can determine how their marital property is to be divided, the amount and duration of spousal and child support, and the child custody schedule the parents will follow. The obvious advantage of a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement is that all these issues can be resolved without the need for costly litigation.

Before meeting with an attorney to discuss an eventual separation from your spouse, you should give careful thought to what your priorities and objectives are. For example, do you want primary custody of your children and ownership of the marital home and its furnishings to provide some continuity for your children? Are you concerned about your future financial security upon your retirement and therefore looking for a substantial share of your spouse's retirement accounts? If your children are near college-age, do you want marital assets converted to a trust fund to cover their college education?

If you and your spouse are unable to settle, then the issues pertinent to your case - child custody and support, spousal support in the form of post-separation support and alimony, divorce from bed and board, property division and absolute divorce - will be settled through court action. Here at McDonald Williams, we are here to help; please contact us for assistance.

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