Greensboro NC Family Law Practice | Culbertson & Associates – Senior Partner Krispen Culbertson
Family Law includes all parts of civil law that involve the rights of family members in relation to each other. Family law deals with:
- custody (the primary field involving family law lawyers)
- property division
- child support
Most family lawyers combine trial skills with a knowledge of the state law — and sometimes appellate law — that applies to their clients’ cases. Most family law cases filed are decided in state district court, but many times an actual law suit can be headed off by use of careful and reasonable separation planning using a separation agreement. The separation agreement is a powerful, money saving tool that helps parties avoid trial and court on potentially all issues — and the considerable legal expense that goes with it. Most good separation agreements can be drafted and finalized for one-sixth the cost of going to trial by judge in order to determine custody, equitable distribution, property, child support and separation rights between the parties.
Property division is called equitable distribution, and is usually determined by a judge (if the parties can’t agree in advance between themselves) at a full hearing, which involves presentation of detailed evidence of who acquired what and when during or before a marriage. The judge then decides who should receive what in light of these considerations, and of course the lawyers play an important role in how this is decided.
Custody, too, involves its own separate hearing and evidence, as does child support. In custody cases, the court will retain the right to review an award of custody if there is a substantial “change of circumstances” involving the children. Courts often have the ability to review any type of case where the rights of a child are involved. Divorce is a little different. Most divorce proceedings are short and less expensive because parties now have the right to “uncontested divorce” provided they fulfill certain requirements (one year separation being the most important in North Carolina).