Divorce & Separation

Divorce is among the most stressful events a person might experience in their lives. The practical elements of finalizing a marriage most generally occur in the wake of pain that leads up to this point, complicating emotions and disarming your vision of a healthy future. The unguided process can be overwhelming, a source of extreme anxiety and financial distress leading to emotionally charged decisions that might negatively impact your goals.

Statistically speaking, just over half of all first marriages end in divorce within ten years. The divorce rate for second marriages is even higher. We know this might seem depressing, and we point it out only to emphasize you are not alone, and there is no stigma to divorce, only with bad divorces. In fact, divorce is the second most common factor, second only to traffic infractions, bringing people to court in the United States. The sheer number of cases being managed by the courts in each state have dictated specialization in issues of family law. In Durham and Wake counties, we have the Unified Family Court System to efficiently process cases through the system.

Because of the volume of family law cases, North Carolina has developed laws to approach divorce in an efficient fashion. Outside of the emotional elements existing for divorcing couples, a marriage’s end is very much like a partnership dissolution. As a matter of efficiency, courts in North Carolina encourage mediation, negotiation and creative problem solving within families to come to an agreement on as many issues as possible without the necessity of court intervention.

Mediation is a required element of most divorce cases. Many divorces share basic elements including:

All of the elements of your divorce can be memorialized in a Settlement Agreement or a court order, in the case of a trial. The crafting of your Settlement Agreement is the foundation to a successful future following divorce. Poorly drafted or ill-considered elements of your settlement agreement can have a lasting impact. It is essential for you to seek the advice and leadership of an experienced family law attorney to ensure you are considering all of the elements to be included in your property settlement papers. We are experienced Durham divorce attorneys.

LGBT Separation and Divorce

In 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, few people understood the legal complications that would arise based on the lack of uniformity in availability and regulation of marriage between same-sex couples. Today, however, the legal complications are much more evident. Same sex couples have married and, while some marriages are going well, some marriages are headed on the road to separation and divorce. However, unlike Americans who are heterosexual and married, many same sex couples are finding themselves unable to divorce because of the residency requirements related to being able to petition the courts for divorce. In addition to being unable to divorce, they are joint owners of real and personal property. They may have children together and might have combined their finances long ago.

Can I get a divorce in North Carolina or in any state if I am LGBT and married? What happens to the property we own together? What can I do to ensure the ability to see my children? While these questions are common many divorce and separation cases, the answers are not common where LGBT couples are concerned. Consult with an LGBT attorney at NicholsonPham who will help you understand this complicated area of law and choose the best option for you to pursue to protect your rights.

Please see our LGBT Legal Services page for additional information and resources.