law office of j.scott smilth pllc

Call Today336.306.8644

How Has Your Experience Been In Handling Family Law Cases?


I have almost a decade’s worth of experience handling family law cases, including child custody and child support, equitable distribution, alimony, post separation support, and other issues that surround my clients when faced with these types of unfortunate situations.

What Are The Top Misconceptions About Working With A Family Law Attorney?

Sadly, sometimes people have unrealistic expectations about their case, and the outcomes that they feel should occur. It’s very understandable, though, because in many family cases, there is a lot of pain, and a lot of emotional turmoil. When in that state of thought, the facts and difficulties of the law don’t always factor into their mental calculations. Occasionally the client channels these emotions into anger, and then uses that anger to try to get back at their spouse in any way that they can. Hostility and spite takes over rational thought, and in an attempt to hurt the other spouse, they try to use the children as leverage. Obviously, that makes the entire situation rather ugly. I’ll talk to potential clients who, because of such concerns, feel like they need a bulldog, an aggressive attorney, and believe that if they have that kind of attorney, that they can get whatever they want – but that is not really the case. In the end, these types of cases always rest on facts, especially in regards to child custody. The best interests of the children is always the main concern for our court system when dealing with child custody. The bad feelings between the two spouses? Not so much.

Why Should Someone Hire An Attorney To Handle A Divorce Case?

Oftentimes people mistakenly believe they can handle the divorce themselves, thinking that it is not a big deal. They think that they just go to the courthouse and file some paperwork. However, that simply is not the case. People should know, need to know, exactly what their rights are in a marriage and what effects a divorce can have on those rights. If someone goes out there on their own, and files for a simple divorce, they may get exactly what they asked for. When only obtaining a simple divorce there could be severe consequences. If you have been married for a long period of time, or you own your house together with the other spouse, or if you have a 401(K), or retirement, pension, etc., you should speak with an attorney to understand what the ramifications and benefits of an action for divorce might entail. Honestly, you should speak to an attorney no matter what your situation – the pitfalls of not seeking legal counsel are far greater than the cost of consulting with an attorney.

For just one of many examples, if you get a divorce, any claim for equitable distribution of the marital assets goes away. That may not include the marital home, but retirement benefits, alimony, any kind of post separation support, etc., well… once that final judgment of divorce is entered, if you have not made a valid claim for these types of things, then you lose those cause of action. Forever. I can’t even count how many phone calls I’ve received from people who have gotten a divorce and then want to magically go back in time and undo the legal mistakes they’ve made.

Honestly, meet with a family lawyer first, even if it is nothing more than asking for advice to get the lay of the land. It is a far better plan than just jumping into a divorce proceeding all on your own. You should always look into and explore the possibility of hiring a family law attorney when it comes to a divorce case.

How Can Someone Prepare For An Impending Divorce?

For an impending divorce, if both parties are amicable and in complete agreement on what they want to have occur, a separation and property settlement agreement might be their best option. It operates under contract law as a means to determine everything that is associated with the end of a marriage. It also serves to document a date of separation, which is useful later in filing for a divorce. In North Carolina, the law requires that both parties remain separate and apart for at least one year before a divorce.

There are some problems with separation agreements, because in the end, they are just contracts. Specifically, there is no contempt of court in a contract. If something goes wrong regarding the agreement, your only recourse is to sue the other party for a breach of contract, and thus bring him or her to court for breach of the agreement. To ameliorate this, the parties will sometimes seek to incorporate the separation and property settlement agreement into the divorce order.

For example, two spouses separate July 1st, of this year, and then they file for a divorce on July 2nd, the following year. However, in the interim, they have this separation of property settlement agreement. Everything must be followed, and then at the end, when they go for that divorce, they ask the court to incorporate that order as part of the divorce decree. If the agreement is then incorporated, from that point, everything that is specified in that separation and property settlement agreement is also subject to the contempt powers of the court. That way, it is not just a breach of contract; it is enforceable as a contempt order by the court.

In preparation for divorce, you can put anything into a property settlement and separation agreement. You can include child support, child custody, visitation and holiday schedules for each parent. You can break down marital debt, divide pensions, agree to include or not include alimony, and any other legally binding resolution that both parties agree on.

For more information on Family Law In North Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 336.306.8644 today.