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North Carolina Family Law Glossary

North Carolina Family Law Glossary

North Carolina Family Law Glossary  Acceptance of Service.  Signing a document that says you “accept” legal service of documents instead of having a sheriff hand them to you. This is usually done when both parties have attorneys. Affidavit or Sworn Statement.  Written document signed under oath, under penalty of perjury, in the presence of a notary or other authorized person. It functions as sworn testimony. Answer and Counterclaims. An Answer is the defendant’s written response to the allegations that a plaintiff has made in the Complaint, the document that generates the lawsuit. The defendant usually adds his or her own claims, such as alimony or child custody, called Counterclaims. These two things usually happen together, resulting in one document called the Answer and Counterclaims.  Then the plaintiff has the right to give his or her response to the Counterclaims, which is called the plaintiff’s Reply to the Answer. Arbitration. A form of alternative dispute resolution done only by agreement of the parties in North Carolina family law cases. Using this process, both parties hire an agreed-upon arbitrator who makes a decision/ruling in your case instead of using a judge. Child Custody Mediation. In North Carolina, it is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is usually mandatory after a custody case is filed. The mediator does not make any decisions in the case. Instead, the mediator helps parents work towards an agreed-upon visitation schedule.  Only the parents or guardians are allowed to attend custody mediation. Agreements are signed by the parties and the judge, making them valid court orders. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case goes to court. Child Support. Money paid by one parent to the other to support a child. There is no “accounting” of how money is used. It is almost always based on the formula used by the NC Child Support Guidelines.  The formula uses incomes, health insurance, work-related childcare and the number of overnights per year that a parent has with his or her child if it is 123 or more overnights. Child Support Enforcement/Services. Through attorneys and child support workers, it is a government agency that helps parents obtain and/or enforce child support orders, and in some cases determination of paternity and/or past government benefits provided for a minor child. Complaint. Document filed at the courthouse that starts a lawsuit, filed by a plaintiff. It contains claims, such as equitable distribution of marital...

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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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New: Links For Senior Citizen Resources

New: Links For Senior Citizen Resources

Links For Senior Citizen Resources Great Overview Sites: Good starting point and overview is the Senior Citizens Handbook: Laws and Programs Affecting Senior Citizens in NC (The Young Lawyers Division of the NC Bar Association)  See also the National Caregivers Library Other Good Sites: • AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)  • See our law firm Pinterest board for caregiving • Tips For Extended or Frequent Hospital Visits • Eldercare Directory of Federal Gov’t Programs for Seniors, including reverse mortgages • Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIP) for NC • Social Security Medicare Benefits • Social Security Retirement Benefits • Library of Congress Resources for Senior Citizens and Their Families • Pitt County Council on Aging Services – and Pitt County “Resource Guide For Older Adults“ • NC Department of Justice: Help for ID theft • NC Dept. of Aging and Adult Services Assistance (scroll to the bottom) Grandparents...

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The NC SAVAN Program: Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification

The NC SAVAN Program: Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification

The NC SAVAN Program: Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification * Taken directly from the web site of the NC Department of Public Safety:  www.ncdps.gov/dps-services/victim-services/statewide-automated-victim-assistance-and-notification-savan  NC SAVAN, is a criminal justice information-sharing system that supports automated victim notification. NC SAVAN operates a 24-hour toll-free automated offender information and notification service. Individuals may call the toll-free number, 877-NC SAVAN, (877) 627-2826, to learn about an offender’s status, to register for offender notification or to learn about victim assistance resources in their area. Notifications are provided in English and Spanish and translation services are available in more than 100 languages relative to services provided by SAVAN. Once registered, users may receive offender notifications through automated telephone and e-mail notifications, or by downloading telephone applications. This service is meant to augment victim services offered by key...

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Collaborative Family Law: Are You Both on the Same Page?

Collaborative Family Law: Are You Both on the Same Page?

Collaborative Family Law: Are You Both on the Same Page? In the traditional setting of court, the parties are adversarial. This means they are on opposing sides of an issue, each competing for a ruling from the judge. Court tends to be a win/lose scenario. Instead of being adversarial and working against each other, the objective for both parties in Collaborative Family Law is to find a win/win solution to their dilemmas. The parties collaborate in an effort to create the best settlement they can. All four people, both parties and both attorneys, brainstorm in a series of what are called four-way meetings. Because the parties aren’t adversarial, the attorneys and parties discuss things among themselves in a civil manner during the four-way meetings. There is no cross examination. Instead of the courtroom, they usually meet in an office of one of the attorneys. How Does Collaborative Family Law Work? Collaborative Family Law (CFL) is an alternative dispute resolution authorized by the NC General Statutes. It is used only by the agreement of both parties and can be used for almost any type of family law dispute, including child custody and support, alimony, and equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. The attorneys and their clients sign a CFL pledge. In traditional family law cases, the spouse with more money to spend sometimes drags out the process forcing the other spouse to settle because they can’t afford to go to court. The CFL pledge includes a commitment not to “starve out” the other party. If either party decides to litigate (i.e., go to court), the CFL process ends and both parties have to hire new attorneys. This a built in deterrent for starving out the other party. However, the parties can include in their pledge an agreement to use mediation or arbitration if they can’t reach an agreement. By doing that, their attorneys can represent them throughout all three processes, CFL, mediation and arbitration, if necessary, never going to court.  Am I Protected by My CFL Attorney? Yes. Attorneys facilitate the agreement meaning the parties take an active role in the case. If someone suggests a course of action that is not feasible or fair, the attorney advises him or her against it. Both attorneys meet with both clients in four-way meetings. But each attorney also meets with his or her client privately at his or her office. In fact,...

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What is a Daily Money Manager and What Can They Do in Family Law Cases?

What is a Daily Money Manager and What Can They Do in Family Law Cases?

What is a Daily Money Manager and What Can They Do in Family Law Cases? By Kelly Kurz  We’ve all heard someone say, “My husband (or wife) handles all that financial stuff.” This often seems like a good plan; however, what happens if that spouse is no longer in the picture? We usually think of widows or widowers facing the overwhelming task of understanding a spouse’s bookkeeping system, but divorce can also wreak havoc on financial record keeping. More often than not, one marriage partner assumes responsibility for bill paying and record keeping and acquires a greater knowledge of the family finances than the other partner. Sometimes, before a trusting marital relationship deteriorates to the point of divorce, one partner has deferred to the other for so long that they no longer know the most basic elements of family cash flow. This makes equitable distribution of assets and debts difficult. Fortunately, a group of professionals known as daily money managers (DMMs) can open step in to help those who are unprepared for the organizational challenges of divorce. The skills DMMs have developed to help clients manage personal monetary affairs can be applied to gathering the information required for financial affidavits. DMMs also offer ongoing services such as organizing financial records, maintaining bank accounts, budgeting, coordinating benefits and paying bills. Daily money managers work with a variety of clients. Many practices have a senior client base who needs DMM services due to changes associated with aging such as poor vision, limited wring ability or dementia. Other practices focus on high net worth clients or busy professionals who prefer that someone else handle routine financial tasks so they can enjoy their spare time. Although some DMMs have separate professional credentials, most do not provide legal, investment or tax advice. They do, however, provide services that complement the work of other professionals and can often refer you to appropriate service providers.  Kelly Kurz, founder of Paperwork Solutions, LLC, is certified as a Professional Daily Money Manager (PDMM®) by the American Association of Daily Money Managers. Kurz has been serving clients in Pitt and surrounding counties since...

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