Month: August 2012

Are you prepared for a possible “Gray Divorce?”

While browsing the Asheville Citizen-Times website on August 13, 2012, we came across a terrific article by guest columnist Haleh Moddasser about “Gray Divorce.”  Although the article targets older women,  we feel Ms. Moddasser’s article contains important information for all of us,  regardless of gender and whether you may be young, middle-aged or whatever comes after that.  Given that family and financial circumstances can change unexpectedly, be it by death, accident, or divorce, it pays to plan ahead and be informed. Follow the link to learn more:  http://www.CITIZENTIMES.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201208140015/LIVING/308140016

 

 

 

Finding an Asheville Divorce Lawyer

If you are reading this entry, you are probably contemplating separation from your spouse.  Or maybe you have already done that.  You probably have questions about the law, and how the law applies to you.  You are likely under a tremendous amount of stress from the life changes you are experiencing.  You are looking for a lawyer to answer questions, to solve legal problems, and to provide wise counsel.

Finding the right divorce lawyer at this stage in your life is critical.  Take control of finding the right divorce lawyer in Asheville by following some of these tips.

  1. Interview divorce lawyers until you find someone you are confident understands you and understands your case.
  2. Ask yourself whether you like the lawyer you are meeting with.  If you don’t feel that you have established a rapport with your lawyer during the initial consult, you may want to move on.
  3. Remember, if the lawyer you are consulting doesn’t stand out to you, chances are your lawyer is not going to stand out to the opposing party, or the Court.
  4. When you interview divorce lawyers, assess whether they have time for you and your case.  Too much time is a bad sign.  Too little time can also be a problem.  Your divorce lawyer is working for you, ask if they can commit to provide you the time and attention you deserve.
  5. Pay attention to your divorce lawyer’s office.  Do you get the impression that the office is organized?  Is the atmosphere professional?  Is attention paid to confidentiality?  Do you get the sense that office staff is happy and ready to serve you?  If your answer to any of those questions is no, you may want to move on.
  6. Being a divorce lawyer is hard work.  But that doesn’t excuse your lawyer from explaining what he or she is doing for you, in as much detail as you desire.  Your lawyer should be able to articulate a strategy to achieve your goals, at every step of the process.  Your lawyer should be able to demonstrate competence under pressure.
  7. Determine how your divorce lawyer is going to communicate.  Some divorce lawyers in Asheville still don’t use email.  Some don’t have smart phones.  Being able to communicate with your lawyer is going to be important.  Determine how that will happen.  Determine how quickly the divorce lawyer you are going to hire can return your call or email.

These seven tips should empower you to choose your Divorce Lawyer in Asheville.  Make the right choice at the outset.

Separation Agreement

When we accept a case involving separation, we typically contemplate guiding our clients down one of two roads: 1. negotiation of a separation and property settlement agreement without court involvement, or 2. filing a lawsuit.  Here we address the first of these roads.

 

WHAT IS SEPARATION? In North Carolina, you do not need to have any specific form or paper in order to be legally separated.  Legal separation occurs when one spouse leaves the marital home and stops living together under the same roof with his or her spouse.  At separation, at least one party must have the intent of remaining separate and apart.  This “intent” does not mean either party can’t hope for reconciliation under better circumstances, but it does mean that separate households are being created for the foreseeable future. The law presumes that spouses have separated when there is an obvious change in living arrangements and one spouse’s intent to remain separate is expressed.

 

AGREEMENT TO SEPARATE VS. SEPARATION AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT: WHICH ONE AND WHY?   It is best for spouses to separate after having discussed and negotiated a written agreement to separate that both have signed in front of a notary.  This type of written agreement, referred to as a “Consent to Separate” or “Separation Agreement”, typically states that the parties have agreed to live separate and apart, as if unmarried, and that neither will accuse the other of “abandoning” the marriage.   This agreement to separate can be as simple as that, or it can be part of a more detailed contract that addresses property settlement, child custody and support and spousal support and alimony.  We call an agreement to separate, which includes these additional provisions a “Separation and Property Settlement Agreement”.

 

When spouses can successfully negotiate a complete Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, they can avoid the expense and uncertainty of involving a Court in deciding matters highly personal and complex matters.  Spouses who reach agreements ideally understand what to expect from each other so they can go more easily go about the process of reorganizing their lives.  The only thing typically left for those spouses to do is to file for divorce at the conclusion of one continuous year of separation.

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP ME WITH THE SEPARATION AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?  We begin the process of preparing a separation agreement by carefully listening to you in order to clearly understand your concerns and goals.  We will understand the economics of the marriage, the needs of children and the nature and extent of the marital estate.  Once we have an understanding of these things, we can put the framework of an Agreement together.

 

In the process of generating the property settlement portion of an agreement, we may ask you to bring us documentation, including mortgage, credit card, retirement, brokerage and bank statements.  If you or your spouse owns a business, we may involve a CPA to understand and value the business.

 

If it can be done in a calm and rational manner, we encourage you to negotiate with your spouse as we prepare agreements so that the Agreement we prepare is one that is likely to be signed.  Negotiation can occur at the kitchen table, at settlement conferences in our offices, through mediated settlement conferences in mediators’ offices, or by and through attorneys.  Agreements that both spouses have participated in generating, and fully understand, are typically durable and enforceable.