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When Does Child Support Stop in North Carolina?

When Does Child Support Stop in North Carolina?

When Does Child Support Stop in North Carolina? By Amy A. Edwards Each state specifies the age at which child support ends. In North Carolina, NC Gen. Stat. §50-13.4 requires child support to be paid until a child is age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is longer. Support may end sooner than that if a child becomes emancipated. There is a legal proceeding that allows a minor who is at least 16 years old to file seek a decree of emancipation from a judge. But most commonly, a minor is automatically emancipated when he or she marries or joins the military. Unless parents have agreed otherwise in a separation agreement or consent order, if parents have multiple children, support does not automatically drop by 50% when another child graduates or reaches 18, etc. Instead, child support is recalculated based on the child support guidelines and the remaining child or children if a parent files a motion to modify support. Ages 18 to 20 Support may last longer than age 18 or graduation if the 18-year-old is still in school after reaching age 18 but hasn’t graduated. In that event, child support continues until he or she quits high school, fails to attend school on a regular basis or make satisfactory academic progress towards graduation, or reaches age 20, whichever is first. “If the child is enrolled in a cooperative innovative high school program . . . then payments shall terminate when the child completes his or her fourth year of enrollment or when the child reaches the age of 18, whichever occurs later.” NC Gen. Stat. §50-13.4(c)(3). Past Due Support There is one big exception to the general rule. If a parent owes outstanding child support when the payments would usually terminate, the payments will continue in the same amount, to be applied to the outstanding support until the balance is satisfied.  Support from Grandparents When a minor has a baby, the grandparents have primary liability for the support of the grandchild. However, even though the parent of the baby is a minor child, he or she is secondarily liable for the baby’s support. The court determines the proper share of financial responsibility for the baby. A grandparent’s responsibility for child support ends for both the parent and the grandchild when the minor parent reaches the age of 18 or becomes emancipated. If only one of the baby’s parents was a minor...

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Free-Trader Agreements in North Carolina

Free-Trader Agreements in North Carolina

Free-Trader Agreements in North Carolina When a married couple separates, if they can reach an agreement on all of the issues between them, they may choose to sign a separation agreement. It is a contract that says how they have agreed to divide property and debt, how family support will be provided, if any, and what they will do about parenting time if they have children together. One of the usual terms contained in it is a free-trader-agreement (FTA). If there is no separation agreement, an FTA can be a short contract by itself. What’s the Problem? Many couples own real estate when they separate. After time passes but before the divorce is granted, some people consider home ownership. When married couples acquire a mortgage loan, both usually sign the promissory note, which means they both have a legal obligation to make mortgage payments. That’s pretty straightforward. But when only one spouse signs a promissory note, only he or she owes the money. To oversimplify the problem, if the home-owner dies before becoming divorced, the surviving spouse has no legal responsibility to make the mortgage payments. But regardless of the fact that a married couple is separated, as a spouse, the non-home-owner would still have certain inheritance and survivorship rights to the property. Remedy #1 – Free Trader Agreement Mortgage lenders require parties to sign an FTA, which is an agreed-upon right to buy (i.e., trade) freely (i.e., without interference). Mortgage lenders lend money to buy a home that will be theirs if they foreclose on the loan. They don’t want to share any ownership of the home with the surviving spouse (who isn’t obligated to make mortgage payments). The purpose of an FTA is for the spouse who is not buying the home agrees to waive all claim to it, including inheritance and/or survivorship rights. Usually recorded on public record at the office of the Register of Deeds, these contracts clarify that the spouse buying the home has exclusive ownership of it, even though he or she is married. Because the FTA is a contract, both parties must voluntarily agree to sign it.  Remedy #2 – The Divorce When a divorce decree is granted, the other person is no longer a spouse, so the mortgage lender no longer has the problem of an ex who is still a surviving spouse even if they were separated for some time when the home was...

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Biofeedback: Another Tool For Managing Divorce Stress

Biofeedback: Another Tool For Managing Divorce Stress

Biofeedback: Another Tool For Managing Divorce Stress By Tami Maes Fragedakis, PhD, LPC, BCB, LRT, CTRS* Experiencing a divorce is ranked as the second highest stressor of all life transitions (Holmes-Rahe, 1967). While people may react differently to a divorce, the life changes and transitions that accompany this experience have consequences. The many negative effects that occur may be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health (Amato, 2012). Without proper coping tools, experiencing a stress response for a duration of time may result in dysfunctional patterns of behavior and additional psychological distress. Biofeedback is an alternative form of therapy that can be used to reduce stress and gain control over the physiological dysfunctions that accompany life’s transitions.   Biofeedback is a training modality used in conjunction with therapy. Through training, individuals are better able to understand and identify their personal, physiological responses to stress. In addition, individuals are able to manipulate their personal reactions, thus enabling control over the symptoms they experience. Non-invasive sensors are attached to the individual to measure the body’s internal reactions. These include heart rate variability, skin temperature, skin conductance, and electrical activity of the muscles. The sensors are connected to a biofeedback device which quantifies the data. The information is then displayed on a computer screen in the form of visual and auditory feedback.  The therapist helps the individual make sense of the information according to their symptoms experienced and then teaches the individual how to control these parameters. Working in the same way as biofeedback, neurofeedback entails non-invasive sensors which are attached with conductance paste on various places of the individual’s head. Electrical activity of the brain, or brain wave data, is then recorded and computed with the biofeedback equipment and displayed on a computer screen for the individual to see. The therapist explains these signals in relation to thoughts, emotions, and symptoms presented. The participant can then ‘see’ the electrical activity of their brain and how this activity changes with certain thought patterns and while experiencing various emotions. The brain creates loops or ‘highways’ of information. Neurofeedback allows the individual to see these feedback loops. Training thus enables the individual to change the feedback loops within the brain and create healthier pathways. The process allows the person to regulate their own brain wave activity to improve overall mental and emotional health and achieve their desired mental performance. Experiencing stress in response to life events...

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Second Thoughts About Separating: Should We Reconcile?

Second Thoughts About Separating: Should We Reconcile?

Second Thoughts About Separating: Should We Reconcile? By Amy A. Edwards After spouses separate, they routinely hire attorneys and begin the negotiation and/or court process, which almost always causes the relationship to further deteriorate. But on occasion, there are couples who separate but then find their way back to each other. Separating and Reconciling In North Carolina, if spouses live in separate residences, and at least one of them has the intention to remain separated from the other, they are considered separated. But the law is murky on the topic of what it means to reconcile, resuming the marital relationship and “canceling” the separation. It is decided on a case-by-case basis, and is not proven by isolated incidents of sexual intercourse. NC Gen. Stat. §52-10.2. Although reconciling usually means both spouses moving into the same household together again, there are a number of complicating legal factors to decide whether the spouses have actually reconciled. This means a dispute over whether you have reconciled will probably be expensive. Why Does it Matter? The world of family law revolves around the date of separation. The law requires a full one-year separation before either party can file for a divorce. If the spouses separate and then reconcile, the clock starts over again, requiring a one-year-separation. Marital and non-marital assets and debts are defined, classified and valued based on the date of separation. Changing the date of separation by reconciling and separating again at a later date can have a huge financial consequence. Likewise, the date of separation can be critical in alimony and child support cases too. If the parties signed a separation agreement or there were court orders in place when spouses reconciled, that triggers another layer of problems beyond the scope of this article. What is the Motive for Reconciling? It can be difficult to know whether the other spouse’s reason for trying to mend their relationship is genuine. People should consider talking with a counselor or other professional who can address the personal relationship between the spouses. Like any other major decision, a spouse should think long and hard about jumping back into the same situation that has already caused so much grief and expense in the first place.  As for their legal relationship, the first question to ask is whether the other spouse has any legal incentive to reconcile. Fault can be a useful tool in alimony cases....

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What in the World is Divisible Property?

What in the World is Divisible Property?

What in the World is Divisible Property? By Amy A. Edwards Marital property is property that a married couple owns when they separate, as long as they acquired it during the marriage. Separate property includes property that you owned before marriage, property that was a gift to you individually, or inherited property. In 1997, North Carolina created something else, divisible property. [1] This article barely scratches the surface of it, and does not include divisible debt. What’s Included in “Divisible Property”? Only property owned on the date of the separation is marital property. But what happens to marital property after you separate? The time from the date of separation until the date that the case finally reaches the courtroom can easily be a year or longer. If the value of a marital asset changes, the court will decide what to do with that change in value. If the court says the change in value of marital assets is divisible property, the amount of that change will be divided 50/50. Otherwise, the change in value will not be divided and that change in value is kept as separate property. For Example . . . Assume your home is worth $200,000.00 when you separate, and that you still live there. By the time you reach the courtroom, after 13 months have passed, the value increases to $225,000.00. The judge will decide whether that $25,000.00 difference in value is divisible property. If so, it will be equally divided and each spouse would get value worth $12,500.00. On the other hand, if the difference is not divisible property, that increase in value is the separate property is yours. What Makes the Change in Value Divisible? The increases and decreases in the value of marital property after separation are assumed to be divisible property, and divided equally. This assumption is based on things such as inflation, changing economic conditions and market forces, the mere passage of time and changes in tax assessments. These increases in value are divisible property because they are natural changes, which the court calls these changes “passive” in nature, generally beyond either spouse’s control. What Makes the Change in Value Separate or Shared Property? Although the law assumes that the change in value is divisible property and equally divided because the change in value was passive, you can offer evidence to show why the change in value is not passive....

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Can’t We Just Pick a Date of Separation and Get Our Divorce?

Can’t We Just Pick a Date of Separation and Get Our Divorce?

Can’t We Just Pick a Date of Separation and Get Our Divorce? We hear this question all the time. The short answer is no, you can’t choose a date of separation. In the real world, efficiency and common sense would suggest that you could. But this is not an agreement to apply for “services” from the government. It is a lawsuit, and a judge must use the law. Divorce is a legal status, similar to a legal status of biological parent in a paternity case, for example. Each state has laws dictating how long a married couple must be separated before they are eligible to divorce. Here in North Carolina, the law requires a one-year separation. This should not be confused with our residency requirement. It requires at least one spouse to live in this state for six months before he or she is allowed to file a claim for divorce, even if the parties have already been separated for a year when one spouse moves here. All Divorces Are Lawsuits It can be easy to forget that even uncontested divorces are filed by a plaintiff, served on a defendant, and ruled upon by a judge. In fact, most people don’t even have to be in court. Except for incurable insanity, the only ground for a divorce in North Carolina is a one-year separation. This requires that at least one spouse intends for the separation to be permanent, although there is no requirement that the lawsuit say which spouse intends to remain apart. Examples of one-year separations that don’t fit into this category are couples who are only separated by military service or incarceration. They are not separated unless one spouse intends to remain separated (i.e., that person does not want to move back home when no longer physically separated). The divorce complaint, the document that starts the lawsuit,  cannot even be signed until the day after the year has passed. When you sign the complaint, you do so under oath, under penalty of perjury, which is a crime. Worse yet, if you lie about the DOS, your fraudulently obtained divorce can be set aside (voided) because you were not separated for one full year. Why Do We Have to Wait a Year? The government doesn’t want you to have a fight with your husband or wife, separate for a few days or weeks, get divorced and then reconcile...

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