What do the terms legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, joint custody, primary custody, and secondary custody all mean? If you are in a custody dispute, you may hear any or all of these terms used and it can be quite confusing.
Legal custody generally refers to major decision making authority for the child. This does not include the day to day decisions while the child may be in your care, but generally refers to major decisions concerning the health, welfare, educational, and spiritual needs of the child. Generally speaking, most parents can agree on joint legal custody and may defer to recommendations of healthcare providers or a third party neutral when they cannot agree. When a party knows at the time that custody is being negotiated, that there are distinct differences in each of the parent’s position on a major decision for the child, it may be important for one party to seek primary legal custody. Continue reading “The Language of Child Custody”
Equitable distribution is the method North Carolina courts use to divide marital property between divorcing spouses. The purpose of equitable distribution is to divide marital property and debts equitably based on the relative positions of each party at the time of separation. In an equitable distribution case, the court will make a determination of what is marital and divisible property. All property will be classified, valued, and distributed between the parties. Generally, the court will divide the property equally unless it is shown that equal is not equitable in the particular circumstances. In addition, property division is not fault-based and the court will not consider marital misconduct in making an equitable distribution determination. Continue reading “PROPERTY DIVISION”
Spousal support encompasses both post separation support and alimony. In order to receive spousal support, a spouse must first establish that he or she is a “dependent spouse” and the other spouse is a “supporting spouse.” A “dependent spouse” is a spouse, husband or wife, who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse. A “supporting spouse” is a spouse, husband or wife, upon whom the other spouse is actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support or from whom such spouse is substantially in need of maintenance and support. Unlike an absolute divorce proceeding, marital fault may be considered in an alimony and/or post separation support hearing. Continue reading “Spousal Support”