Divorce terminates the marital relationship. North Carolina is a No-Fault divorce state and requires one of the parties to be a resident of NC for six months. The parties must live separate and apart for a year with at least one of them having the intent to end the marital relationship. Divorces can become complex when the date of separation is contested or if it is difficult to locate a party. The filing of a lawsuit for divorce is not to be taken lightly as the granting of a divorce judgment and can end certain important rights such as the right to Alimony and Property Division if those claims are not preserved. Laura can guide you through the divorce process from a simple uncontested divorce without a court appearance, to a complex contested divorce.
Prior to filing for divorce and during their separation period, spouses can enter Separation and Property Settlement Agreements resolving their other legal issues such as Custody, Child Support, Alimony and Property Division. Separation Agreements are helpful as they are private and can be less costly and time consuming than going to Court. Separation Agreements should be drafted by a knowledgeable Family Law Attorney to protect your rights and avoid future litigation over vague or unenforceable provisions. Incorporation or non-incorporation into a divorce judgment should also be carefully considered due to legal implications. Having drafted many simple and complex Separation Agreements, and having heard numerous trials for the enforcement and interpretation of Agreements, Laura knows the ins and outs of drafting and enforcing an effective Agreement to protect your rights and avoid future litigation.
Members of our Armed Services and their spouses can have unique divorce issues due to their service. There are numerous State and Federal statutes that must be taken into consideration. Military members receive special protections during litigation if they are serving our country during a deployment and those rights must be safeguarded. There can be important jurisdictional issues to consider as well when a military family resides in one state but claims another state as their home of record. Military pensions and benefits are complex to divide and must be carefully considered. There are also unique statutes regarding child custody arrangements for members of our armed service who are serving our country to safeguard their custodial rights. Laura represented many members of our armed services and their spouses from 1994 to 2008 and has heard hundreds of cases involving military issues as a Judge from 2008 to 2016. She understands the unique needs of our military families and is an effective advocate to protect their rights as they protect us.
Child Custody is often the most difficult and emotional issue during a divorce. The legal standard is what is in the best interests of a child. The Court will look to parents to see if they are fit and proper persons to have custody. Courts will take into careful consideration who has been the primary caretaker but will try to fashion Orders so that a child will have meaningful contact with both parents. We have seen the growth of shared custodial arrangements in recent years. As a mother, child advocate, former Family Court Judge and now Family Law Attorney, Laura Devan has the skill, knowledge and compassion to handle your child custody case. If possible, she will try to fashion a settlement so that there is the least amount of impact on your child and your family. If necessary, she can provide aggressive representation in a high conflict custody case.
Child Support is financial support for children paid by one parent to another. Both parents have a duty to support their children and child support is calculated pursuant to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines which is an income shares model. It is important to accurately calculate a parent’s income to determine the appropriate amount of child support. This can become complex when you have a self-employed parent, for example. Daycare expenses, health insurance premiums and other extraordinary expenses such as private school tuition and travel expenses can be included in child support. The Court may deviate from the Guidelines in certain situations.Tax issues and uninsured medical expenses should also be addressed immediately to avoid future complications. Laura Devan has tried hundreds of child support cases as an attorney. As a Judge, Laura Devan sat in Child Support Enforcement Court and heard thousands of child support cases. She has the skill and expertise to represent you in a child support case both in a private negotiation or at trial.
Alimony is support payments for a dependent spouse to maintain an accustomed standard of living. Marital misconduct can play role in alimony cases. Judges have wide discretion in determining the amount and duration of alimony as there are no guidelines or formula. It is important to have an attorney who is knowledgeable about the law in our state as well as an attorney who is skilled in determining income and needs and knows how to present that information effectively to a Court. Alimony has significant tax consequences as well. Uniquely, Laura Devan has tried and heard hundreds of alimony cases as a lawyer and as a Judge in Family Court. She can assess the facts of your case to help you reach a settlement or litigate your case effectively at trial to protect your rights.
During a marriage, couples typically accumulate property and debt including real estate, vehicles, pensions, personal property and credit card debt. Dividing assets and debts at divorce can get complicated. North Carolina is an Equitable Distribution (ED) state. ED is a highly complex area of law involving our statute and years of case law. In an ED case, we must identify, classify and value the property and debts of a marital estate. Each of these steps can be complex depending on the nature of the estate. It is essential to have an attorney well-versed in this area of law to guide you through an ED case. A court will divide your estate staring with a presumption that a 50-50 and in-kind division is equitable. There are factors a Court can consider, however, for unequal division. Many ED cases settle out of court prior to trial or at mediation. Laura Devan has the knowledge, skill and experience to guide you through a private settlement or complex litigation if need be. She has tried complex ED cases not only as at Attorney but as a Family Court Judge as well.
Grandparents play a special role in the lives of children in our society. Increasingly we see grandparents who have custody and are raising their grandchildren. Sometimes as the result of a divorce, one set of grandparents may not be able to see their grandchildren as often as they used to when the family was intact. NC has specific laws that protect the right of grandparents and grandparents have the right to seek custody and visitation in certain circumstances. Laura understands the special role grandparents play in children’s lives and is an advocate for their rights.
Victims of domestic violence can seek help by filing for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) or by the issuance of criminal charges. In Cumberland County, we have an integrated Domestic Violence Courtroom and these cases are often heard together. Domestic Violence can affect other areas of a Family Law case including Custody, Alimony and Property Rights. Being convicted of a domestic violence crime or having a DVPO entered against you can have serious collateral consequences. A DVPO or conviction can affect your ability to carry a weapon and may affect your job. Laura presided as a Judge in our Domestic Violence Courtroom for 9 years and handled thousands of cases from Bond Hearings, to emergency order requests to full trials. She understands the complexities of Domestic Violence Court and can assist you with her expertise if you are facing these issues. Laura can represent individuals in both civil and criminal cases as well as in your domestic case which will prevent you from hiring more than one attorney.
Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous. With over 50 percent of marriages in America ending in divorce, they are a practical tool which can benefit your marriage because important issues regarding finances are discussed prior to marriage. Prenuptial Agreements are important for individuals entering a second or later life marriage. Often, individuals have accumulated estates they would like to preserve for their children from a prior marriage. It is important that a prenuptial agreement is well drafted in a timely manner in the event of future litigation.