Divorce is often one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. Once you and your spouse have made the decision to separate and end your marriage, though, the best thing to do is to work through the legal process quickly so that you can enter the next chapter of your life. At Kenny & Lowry, P.L.L.C., we are here to help you navigate the law during a very emotional time. The decisions that you make today can have a long-lasting impact on your finances as well as your role in your children’s lives. It’s crucial to have an experienced, level-headed attorney at your side as you work through this process.
It’s imperative that you seek the help of an experienced divorce lawyer who can make the process easier for you. The decision to separate and divorce triggers a number of related issues with which our team can assist. First and foremost, we can help you formally end a marriage quickly and efficiently. We work with clients facing both contested divorce and simple, uncontested divorce.
In many cases, one spouse will request alimony (also known as spousal support) from the higher-earning spouse in order to maintain a standard of living. Depending on your individual circumstances, we will assist and guide you in trying to reach an agreement with your spouse, whether through direct negotiations or mediation, or we will advocate for your rights in the courtroom. Our team is also knowledgeable on how property, assets, and debt must be divided in North Carolina, helping us fight for what our clients rightfully deserve. These financial matters can sometimes be contentious, which is why you need an attorney to advocate for you.
When your Gastonia divorce involves children, it’s important that you prepare yourself for the difficult decisions that may follow. For example, divorcing couples with children must make a new parenting plan. The first question to address in custody is establishing where your child or children will live and who will be most involved in making decisions on their behalf. Depending on how your parenting responsibilities are divided, as well as on the relative incomes of you and your spouse, child support payments may be appropriate to help financially sustain your child. If you’re going through a divorce in Gastonia, our team at Kenny & Lowry, P.L.L.C., is waiting to offer you legal support.
From dealing with intense emotions to keeping up with confusing legal proceedings, getting divorced isn’t easy for anyone. However, working with a knowledgeable divorce firm that has experience with North Carolina law can help change that. Here at Kenny & Lowry, P.L.L.C., our goal is to find solutions for every family law case that crosses our desks. Our legal services are tailored to the individual problems of every client, helping us focus on what legal steps are right for your scenario. Our divorce lawyers can not only assist you in filing for separation, but they can also offer indispensable support and representation until your case is finalized. For Gastonia divorce assistance that can make a difference in your life, don’t wait to talk to Kenny & Lowry, P.L.L.C.
Our lawyers at Kenny & Lowry, P.L.L.C., have spent years working through challenging divorces and helping our clients find resolutions that make them comfortable. The following divorce elements are also areas that we can assist you with here in Gastonia:
In North Carolina you must live physically separate and apart for one (1) year, before you can file for Absolute Divorce. While no divorce case is the same, many of them follow the same general steps until they can be finalized. The factor that has the largest influence on the difficulty and length of your case will be whether it is contested.
To obtain an Absolute Divorce, which legally terminates the marital relationship, you and your spouse must be living separate and apart for one (1) full year, with the intent of at least one (1) spouse to end the marital relationship, and you must file a lawsuit. If at the one (1) year separation mark, you and your spouse have finalized all issues related to child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), a division of assets and debts (equitable distribution), whether formally through an Agreement or a separate lawsuit, or just between yourselves, then you will be filing for an uncontested or simple divorce.
The attorneys of Kenny & Lowry, PLLC will process all paperwork through the court system, with limited requirements from either party. If you also wish to resume the use of a maiden or former name, this can easily be addressed and included as part of the Absolute Divorce action.
If the issues of child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), a division of assets and debts (equitable distribution) have not been resolved in advance of the filing of the Absolute Divorce action, then we will discuss what if any issues need to be addressed before the entry of the divorce order and advise you on how best to proceed in resolving these issues. If alimony and equitable distribution are not resolved or properly preserved before the entry of a divorce order, they are forever lost or extinguished, so it is very important to discuss these issues with an attorney, before seeking a divorce.
A Complaint for Absolute divorce can include other issues, but we strongly encourage you not to wait one (1) year, before you address the issues of child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), a division of assets and debts (equitable distribution). However, we understand separating spouses are not always able to reach an amicable resolution on all issues and some cases take quite a long time to resolve. You and your spouse may agree on a child custody schedule, but not on financial support or a property settlement. If you and your spouse are not able to reach a settlement on all issues, any unresolved issues can be addressed along with the Absolute Divorce and makes your case contested. In a contested divorce, there will be Court determined deadlines, court dates, mediation, exchange of documents, and other requirements that make for a much lengthier process.
The average contested divorce in Gastonia follows these steps:
North Carolina does not allow a couple to file for divorce unless they have been living separate and apart for one (1) full year, with the intent of at least one (1) spouse to end the marital relationship.
Once you have fulfilled the requirements for a Gastonia divorce, you should retain a lawyer before moving forward. This is to ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible and that you address all legal aspects properly. It may also be necessary because many separating spouses get into intense arguments once the divorce process begins.
A Complaint for Absolute Divorce is filed by the Plaintiff spouse based on a one (1) year separation—no fault-based issues are included or considered—and will include the other issues that remain unsettled, such as: child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), a division of assets and debts (equitable distribution). If you’re the Plaintiff spouse who is filing, our lawyers will prepare and process the paperwork and help you navigate the divorce process. If you’re the Defendant spouse who is being served with the paperwork, we will assist you in understanding what exactly has been filed and how to respond to protect your rights.
After Plaintiff spouse has initiated the lawsuit by the filing of the Complaint, he/she is responsible for serving the Defendant spouse with a copy of the Summons and Complaint by one of the court-approved service methods, which is usually by the local Sheriff’s Office or by the signing of an Acceptance of Service. The Defendant spouse has thirty (30) days from the date of service to file a response, which is called an Answer and Counterclaim. It is important to review the Complaint with one of our attorneys to determine what claims, if any, you will need to include in your Counterclaim.
Depending on what claims are included in the Complaint, in addition to Absolute Divorce, an initial court date may be set when the Complaint is filed to address child custody, child support, spousal support, or interim distribution of property. Depending on the complexity of the issues to be addressed, there may be multiple court dates that are required. However, neither party actually has to appear in court when the Judge signs the final Divorce Decree. It is not uncommon for the Divorce Decree to be signed by the Judge and leave open the other issues, which allows the spouses closure in obtaining an absolute divorce, while continuing to address the other issues related to their separation and divorce.
The number of hearings you need to attend will depend on how contentious your Gastonia divorce is. For example, if you and your soon-to-be-ex are able to agree on most matters and only need assistance from a judge on child custody, you will have a lot fewer hearings than a couple who disagrees on every single decision. While family court can be intimidating, your divorce lawyer will be right there with you to help you through it.
If you have filed a claim for child support, postseparation support, alimony, or equitable distribution, you will need to share financial information and documentation required to calculate support amounts and to determine an equitable distribution of your assets and debts. Our attorneys will guide you through this process to ensure that support amounts are calculated correctly and to ensure that all assets and debts have been properly inventoried, valued, and distributed.
If you are a spouse who does not have access to or know all the details of the marital estate, the attorneys at Kenny & Lowry, PLLC will assist and guide you through the process of discovery to identify all assets and debts and ensure that they have been disclosed and properly addressed, which not only brings peace of mind, but can also prevent unwanted future financial concerns.
Many cases addressing financial issues and property will require private mediation. Private mediation occurs outside of court. The mediation process offers the parties an opportunity to settle their contested issues without the need for multiple court hearings or a lengthy trial. Usually private mediation occurs in an office setting, where each spouse is in a separate conference room with their attorney, and a neutral third-party attorney acts as the Mediator. The Mediator will go back and forth between the two (2) sides to help the parties and their attorneys negotiate and settle the issues. If a settlement is negotiated, a Consent Order will be drafted, signed by the parties and their attorneys, and presented to the Judge for signing.
North Carolina offers a custody mediation program through the courthouse. Custody mediation takes place with only the spouses/parents and the custody Mediator present in a courthouse conference room, which gives the parents an option to settle any outstanding child custody issues. If an agreement is reached, the Mediator will draft the paperwork, and each parent will have the opportunity to review it with their attorney before they sign and the agreement is presented to the Judge for signing.
The Court and Attorneys acknowledge and agree that the most successful separation/divorce and especially co-parenting terms are reached by each party being a part of the discussion and reaching a compromise that reflects a mutual meeting of the minds. That is not to say that the attorneys of Kenny & Lowry, PLLC will not fight zealously and aggressively to assist you in reaching a final resolution, whether in the mediation or courtroom setting, our attorneys will be there to support you and advocate for you.
If mediation fails to address the outstanding issues, you will then proceed with further court appearances. Our attorneys will assist you with preparing for the additional court appearances and speak on your behalf when your case is called. Our attorneys will support you every step of the way.
You don’t have to face your separation and divorce alone. Kenny & Lowry, P.L.L.C., is here to help minimize the negative impact of this experience on your life. As a firm devoted entirely to family law, we are focused on the needs of you and your family. We know that this part of your life is frightening, which is why our legal services are here to support you every step of the way.
117 East Main Avenue
Gastonia, NC 28052