Client Info Letters

Separation and Divorce

Property Division and Spousal Support

Estate Planning

The Ten Most Common Questions Asked


1. My Husband/Wife and I just separated. I understand I need a "legal separation". How do I do this?

There is no such thing as a "legal separation" in NC. When most people talk about a legal separation, they mean one of two things -- either a separation agreement, or else the period of time to be separated before you can file for divorce.

Separation Agreement... A separation agreement can be prepared by our attorneys. For more info, see our office handout on separation agreements, "Separation Agreement Survival Guide" {23}.

Separation Regarding Divorce... In order to get a divorce, the married couple must live apart for more than one year. If they have lived apart for this long and it is the intention of one or both that the separation be permanent, than either can file for divorce. Our requested deposit for an uncontested divorce is $1,200.00 to the firm's trust account which includes $225.00 for filing fees and $30.00 for service. A divorce merely makes you single again -- it does not resolve any other issues, such as alimony, property division, custody or child support.


2. My husband closed all the bank accounts and he's moving out right now. What can I do?

Moving Out. No law prevents your husband from moving out. You may, however, be able to ask the court for child support or alimony. One of our attorneys can see you about this.

Closing Bank Accounts. The law allows either of you to close a bank account in joint names or in your own name. If you file a lawsuit for equitable distribution of marital property, the court can order a temporary division of assets pending a final hearing, and this can include bank accounts.

Our attorneys will be happy to discuss either of these with you. You might also want to see our handout on "Alimony" {34}.


3. I'm not getting along with my husband. We've been married two weeks and it was a mistake. Can't I just get an annulment?

An annulment is not a divorce involving a short marriage. It is a declaration that no valid marriage ever existed, such as when first cousins marry, or there is some other roadblock to a valid marriage (such as if one of the parties was drunk or insane or already married at the time of the marriage ceremony). If the marriage is valid, the only way to end it is with a divorce. We can set you up for an appointment with one of our attorneys.


4. When do you get alimony?

This is a complicated question. It is covered in a handout that we have entitled "Alimony" {34}. Please read it to see whether it looks like you could receive alimony. The person who decides if you get alimony is the judge. Unless your spouse agrees to pay you alimony, you will need to file a lawsuit and ask the judge to award you alimony.



5. Why can't I talk to an attorney before I set up an appointment?
Our attorneys receive many phone calls each day. Due to the volume of clients whom we serve, we have the clients screened by our office staff in order to ensure that our attorneys can devote their full attention to existing clients who have already retained us. We will be happy to put you through to a paralegal or send you a client handout on any of the subjects that could come up in your case such as visitation, custody, alimony or separation agreements.

6. Do you take any pro bono cases?

We do take pro bono cases, but we accept these cases from a branch of the legal aid organization, the Wake County VLP (Voluntary Lawyers Program). If you would like to talk to them about having an attorney handle your case at no charge and you are financially qualified for this help, you should contact or call their helpline toll-free at 1-866-219-5262.



7. What will my case cost? Why can't I get an exact quote for my case?

Except for one or two areas, such as an uncontested divorce or a simple name change, we never quote exact fees for cases. The reason for this is that it is impossible to tell how much your case will cost. Attorneys charge on an hourly basis. Our attorneys cannot predict how many hours will be spent on any given case in order to quote a fixed fee. In addition, no attorney can tell how much "fighting" the other side will do or how much negotiating will be necessary in a settlement.

When you come into our office, the attorney will give you an estimate concerning your case if you ask for it. He will also tell you the amount of money that initially needs to be deposited into our trust account. We use the money from the trust account to pay your bills on a regular basis while we are working on your case.


8. I need someone to look over some documents. How much will this cost?
Our attorneys are available to review documents. Whenever they look over a document prepared by someone else -- such as a separation agreement or a prenuptial agreement -- we charge a fee of $450.00. This is in addition to the costs of the initial interview. If you would like one of our attorneys to review your separation agreement (or another document), we ask that you send us the document at the same time as you set up your initial appointment. In that way, the attorney will be able to the review the document in advance of the meeting and then give you the results of the review when you come in for your initial appointment.


9. My ex-husband is not paying child support. What do I do?

Child Support Enforcement Office. The Wake County Child Support Enforcement Office is located on the 8th floor of the courthouse. This office will provide free enforcement of court orders for the collection of child support, and it will also provide free help to initiate the determination of child support in new cases. Their number is 919-856-6630.

Our Office. Our attorneys are also available to assist in the enforcement of child support. You might want to look at our office handouts concerning child support, "Child Support" {40}, or "Child Support - How Much Is Enough?"{33}. In some child support cases, it is possible to ask the judge for attorney's fees to help reimburse you for the money you spend hiring one of our attorneys to handle the child support case for you.

10. My wife and I are not getting along. If I leave the house, can she get me for abandonment?

This is not a ground for alimony. It still is, however, a ground for divorce from bed and board. For more information please see our handout, "Alimony" {34}.