Helping Families Take The Next Step Toward A New Beginning

Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law Cases

I understand that family law issues come with a lot of stress, emotions and uncertainty. I want to empower and help my clients through this difficult time by providing answers to some of the most asked questions related to family law cases. Please see some of these answers below.

Contempt – What is it and how does it work?

  • Contempt is a mechanism for enforcing a valid order of the court. Once a Judge signs an order and it is entered by the clerk of court, then the order is enforceable.
  • If one of the parties believes that the other party is disobeying the order, then they can choose to file a motion for contempt and ask the court for an order to “show-cause.” This type of order requires the allegedly disobedient party to provide evidence to the court that shows that they are in fact following the order, or that they have some justification for not following the order.

In North Carolina there are two types of contempt:

  • Civil Contempt is used when you want to compel the other party to do something they were ordered to do. For example: pay for 50% of the cost of uninsured medical expenses.
  • Criminal Contempt is used when the other party has done something that they were not supposed to do. For example: you were supposed to have the children for a major holiday and the other party took the children to the beach without telling where they went. In this case the court could punish the disobedient party with a fine or even time in jail. This is a very serious consequence and requires a higher burden of proof.

Am I Going To Receive Or Pay Alimony?

  • This is a very common question, and the answer is unsatisfying: it depends.
  • If the court finds that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable, then the law in North Carolina says that the court “shall award alimony.” But there are many factors that the court must consider before making final decree to award alimony.

How much will this cost?

  • Lawyers really do not like answering this question because again, the answer to the question is, it depends. Cases are as different as the people themselves. Some cases involve couples who are married with children and who own property, or parties with children but bever married, or parties that own a business together. Each case also depends on the behavior of the other party. But you should not be surprised if the cost is several thousands of dollars. I try very hard to manage the cost of the case but until I have had a chance to speak to you about your unique situation, it is impossible to provide any kind of answer to this question.

Can I Make My Ex Pay My Legal Fees?

  • In some cases, yes. If the court determines that you are a supported spouse and the other party can afford to pay, then the court might award fees. However, the Judge has broad discretion about whether or not to award attorney’s fees. So, there is no guarantee that the Judge will grant the award.

How long Will My Legal Issue Take? A Lot Longer Than You Think It Should!

  • Keep in mind that there are rules and deadlines that both sides are required to follow. For example, once the lawsuit begins when one party files a complaint, the other party, the defendant, has up to 60 days to respond with an answer. So this process is going to take months and can sometimes take years before it completely resolved.

What is gaslighting?

  • This is a really trendy psychological “term of art” that was the 2022 Merriam-Webster word of the year. It is often misused by people to use it when they don’t like what they are hearing from another person. However, in psychology, “gaslighting” has a very specific meaning. The American Psychological Association defines it as the manipulation another person into doubting his or her perceptions, experiences, or understanding of events. Perhaps a more succinct definition is that gaslighting is a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships. Simply put, gaslighting occurs when someone denies your reality, so you begin to doubt yourself. It is an insidious and pernicious form of deceit. Gaslighting comes in many forms and is always done to benefit of the person trying to manipulate you.

I Am Here For You

I know how confusing this must be. I am here to answer your questions and help you move forward into a brighter future. Contact me today at Barnes Family Law by calling 704-859-8050 or online to schedule a consultation.