What Should I Bring to My First Appointment?
The more information you bring with you to your initial consultation, the more immediate assistance we can give you. You should be sure to bring any court documents that have already been filed in your case if you are already in litigation. Additionally, if you are concerned about custody issues you should bring any information related to your custody case or your concerns regarding custody. This may include photographs, journal entries, emails, text messages, or other correspondence. If you are concerned about financial issues, like child support, alimony, or property distribution, it will be important for us to have documents showing income, assets and debts that you or the other party currently maintain. Often this will include paycheck stubs, bank account statements, retirement statements, social security income, or mortgage and credit card account statements.
Methods of Resolution
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is typically quicker, less expensive and more beneficial to spouses than litigation. Mediation is typically held in a more relaxed atmosphere than a courtroom; often occurring in conference rooms of a law firm. In Family Law Mediation, the parties work in separate room with their respective attorneys to negotiate toward a resolution. The mediator then works in each room to negotiate a settlement. The mediator does not have the ability to make any decisions in the case, but rather has the skills and expertise to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable outcome. This process often allows for the spouses to tailor the end-result to meet their family’s best interest. Through this process spouses have direct involvement in the outcome, rather than allowing a Judge to make the decision for their family.
Our courts require that parties attend mediation for all child custody and equitable distribution (property division) cases before they can litigate those issues to resolution. For this reason, it is typical for spouses to agree to attend mediation of all issues prior to litigation.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is another form of alternative dispute resolution that is more formal than mediation and is similar to litigation. Arbitration takes place outside of a courtroom and the parties can agree on which arbitrator they will use. The arbitrator will hear evidence and testimony of the parties and ultimately will make decisions as a Judge would do in a litigation case. There are many benefits to arbitration, including choosing an arbitrator, expedited resolution, and keeping the case out of a courtroom.
What is Litigation?
Family Law Litigation in Wake County is pursuant to the Tenth Judicial District Local Rules of Court. These rules prescribe many requirements for all involved parties to move through their family law case. This includes the production of documents, timelines for mediation, deadlines for hearings, and trial dates.
In Wake County, a Family Court System has been implemented which ensures that each family has the same assigned Judge throughout the life of their case. Judges are assigned on a random basis and there are four Family Court Judges in Wake County.
Litigation can involve many aspects of family law, although for child custody and property division, the court requires parties attend mediation prior to litigation.
Hampson Family Law has extensive experience in litigation of family law issues. Kristin M. Hampson has spent her entire legal career representing clients in litigation. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your litigation case.
Documenting the Resolution
What is a Separation Agreement?
Many spouses choose to negotiate their family law issues to settlement and memorialize their understandings through a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. Such an Agreement is a contract between two spouses which settles, potentially, all issues remaining between the spouses for resolution. Typically, the contract is lengthy, but it will include all necessary information needed to allow the parties to move forward through the period of separation, as if divorced. This is particularly helpful when parties are awaiting their one-year separation period to expire.
With a Separation Agreement parties can agree to property distribution, child custody, child support, alimony, estate rights, corporate ownership, and their rights to buy/sell property pending divorce. In the event one party breaches the terms of a Separation Agreement, the non-breaching party can file an action for Breach of Contract.
Often times, negotiation of such an Agreement can be the most amicable and least expensive option for spouses.
In some cases, incorporating a Settlement Agreement into a Judgment of Divorce can be legally advantageous, whereas in others, doing so would be disadvantageous. Kristin Hampson can help advise you as to what would be best in your particular case.
What is a Court Order?
Court Orders can be very effective tools in the resolution of family law issues. These Orders are enforceable by all powers of the Court and can also be modified by the Court or the parties if the necessary standards are met for modification.
Court Orders can be entered by a Judge after a hearing or trial on various issues, or they can be part of a negotiated agreement between the parties. In either case, the Order is similarly enforceable by the Court.
How Are Court Orders Enforced?
At times, a party may violate a Court Order and the other party will need to sue in order to force compliance. This is typically seen in child support cases, custody cases, or alimony cases, but can occur with any Court Order in Family Law actions.
When the party owing a duty of support fails to pay, then it is necessary to take them in front of a Judge to force compliance. The Judge, upon hearing the matter and evidence presented, will render a decision and require compliance if the same is warranted. If a violation has been found the Judge may order that the violating party has to pay the other party’s attorney fees.
Hampson Family Law has years of experience in filing contempt actions against parties who are avoiding their obligations, as well as defending against these wrongfully filed actions. Please contact us regarding any assistance you might need.