Union County Domestic Violence Attorney

No person should have to live in fear of violence. Likewise, no person should be deprived of his or her rights due to false allegations of abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or you have been accused of domestic violence, contact our Union County Law Firm. We assist clients who are seeking or opposing the issuance of a domestic violence protective order. We can also help if you need an experienced lawyer for a divorce or family law matter.

Silence DV Victim

North Carolina Domestic Violence Laws

North Carolina’s domestic violence laws, recorded in North Carolina General (NCGS) § 50B, should be helpful in understanding what constitutes this type of abuse.

North Carolina defines domestic violence as mistreatment between parties who share the following personal relationships:

  • Married couples
  • Former spouses
  • Persons of the opposite sex who have or had a co-habitational relationship
  • Parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren
  • Any person bearing a parental-type relationship with a minor child
  • Individuals who have a child together
  • Current or former housemates
  • Persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship

Acts constituting domestic violence include:

  • Intentionally causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury
  • Threats that place a person in fear of imminent bodily injury;
  • Rape or specified sexual offenses
  • Engaging in continued harassment that inspires fear in the victim

In addition to these descriptions of domestic violence, some examples may also be useful. Behaviors that may indicate the presence of abuse include:

  • Sexual coercion
  • Extreme jealousy and being overly possessive
  • Resentment toward other family members and friends
  • Overbearing, controlling behavior
  • Demands that you obtain permission for certain activities
  • Verbal abuse, insults and degrading comments directed at you
  • Placing blame
  • Claims that you are not supportive

Even when you know that you are in a domestic violence situation and are engaged in a personal relationship that’s protected by law, your options may not be as clear. Fortunately, you do have legal options. Union County domestic violence lawyer Kirk Lundell will handle all aspects of your case, ensuring your safety and helping you take control over your life.

Restraining Orders for Victims

To obtain a protective court order against your abuser, you must file a complaint at your county courthouse (or if the courthouse is closed, with your local county magistrate) alleging the specific facts of domestic violence and your relationship to the abuser. The complaint forms are available from the Clerk of Superior Court at all county courthouses in North Carolina (or from the magistrate’s office after regular courthouse hours). By law, no court costs will be assessed for the filing of a complaint for domestic violence seeking a protective order.

Based upon your complaint, the court may issue an ex parte protective order. Ex parte is a legal term meaning that the court entered the order based on a hearing in which one of the parties was not present. The court can order that you be given possession of your home, personal property, household possessions, vehicles, and animals kept as pets. The court may also order that your abuser stay away from your residence, place of employment or your children’s schools.

By law, the court must conduct a second hearing (a “return hearing”) within 10 days after issuing an ex parte protective order. At that hearing you will again testify to the specific facts of domestic violence. Your abuser will also have the opportunity to testify in his or her own defense. Witnesses may be called to testify as well. If the presiding judge is convinced that acts of domestic violence took place after hearing testimony from the parties and any other witnesses, the court will issue a permanent protective order which is effective for one year.

Renewing Protective Orders

Protective orders terminate after one year. Prior to its termination, a victim may apply to the court for the renewal of his or her protective order for up to an additional two-year term (which can later then again be renewed for “good cause” prior to the expiration of the renewed order).

Upon obtaining a protective order, you should send a copy of the order to your abuser if you believe that he or she has not already been served with it by law enforcement (note that the Sheriff’s Department in your county will attempt to serve the order on your abuser as soon as possible). You should also keep a copy of the protective order ready at hand if there is any future need to call the police for protection against your abuser.

Abused By Someone Close To You? We Can Help Protect Your RightsA victim of domestic violence may acquire a temporary protective order on an ex parte basis (an Order issued by the Court without notifying the alleged abuser). Once a temporary order is issued, the party who is restrained by the temporary order may attend a hearing within 10 days to contest the issuance of a final domestic violence protective order, which may stay in effect for up to one year.

The domestic violence protective order (sometimes referred to as a restraining order) can provide tremendous relief if you are a victim of domestic abuse. The order may prohibit your abuser from making any contact with you, in person, by phone or by other means. You may also be awarded temporary use and possession of the marital residence and temporary child custody.

Keeping Children Safe: Emergency Custody Orders

If the other parent presents an immediate danger to your child, you may seek an emergency temporary custody order. Grounds for a court to grant an emergency temporary custody order may include:

  • Substance abuse by a parent
  • Abandonment
  • Threatening or careless behavior

If the actions of the other parent are endangering your child’s health, steps should be taken right away to start the process of obtaining an order of protection. It is crucial to speak with a lawyer who has experience in this specific area of child custody law and the tenacity to protect your child’s rights in an urgent fashion.

Arrested On A Domestic Assault Charge?

When a domestic violence order is entered, it means that a Court has made a finding that domestic violence has occurred. Such a finding has a direct impact on a Court’s determination of issues in a divorce, including child custody and possibly alimony as well. If a temporary order has been issued, contact a family law attorney immediately to protect your rights.

Contact Our Experienced Attorney

Our Union County domestic violence attorney serves clients in Union and many surrounding counties, including Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Richmond, and Stanly. To schedule a consultation at our firm, call 704-288-4096. You may also reach us by sending this email form.

Child Custody: Consider the effects on the children

A married couple moving toward divorce has a myriad of personal and financial concerns. Each partner is worried about their future, finances, and the successful movement of their family through divorce. For children, a familiar life will be turned upside down, and the impact plays an important role in how parents conduct themselves during the divorce process.

During divorce, parents must decide the type of custody best suited for their family. North Carolina courts are required to consider the best interests of the children in making a child custody determination.

When considering the impact of divorce on children in North Carolina, it is important for parents to understand that their own personal interests may not be the same as the best interests of their children. Bitter feelings held by parents that spill over into custody proceedings have the potential to create ill will long into the future.

Consider these questions when thinking about custodial arrangements:

  • History: What is the family history of these children? Children of stay-at-home parents have a different type of adjustment than those familiar with the routine of day-care.
  • Special needs: Are there any special physical or other considerations that should be taken into account?
  • Relationship: What are the relationships between parents and children, and what type of arrangements best work to preserve and build on those connections?
  • Preferences: What are the true preferences and desires of children? What type of life would best suit them as individuals?

Divorce is the dissolution of the legal relationship between parents — not the destruction of emotional ties between parents and their children. Civil conduct during divorce and true consideration of the needs of children go a long way toward helping families move forward successfully after divorce.

Divorce matters are important and often require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the needs of the children and parents are properly considered. If you need legal assistance, contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or by completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

Five Tips for the Divorce Roller Coaster

Although societal stigmas still exist to some extent, divorce is far less scandalous these days and is often viewed as something that just happens to some couples. If you are divorcing, this is a healthy perspective for you to remember as you navigate the process and move forward.

Clients often say, “Divorce is an emotional roller coaster,” which is an incredibly accurate description. You pay a fee, stand in line, take your seat, strap in, lose control, get tossed about, and eventually come to the end. Consider taking the following steps to protect and prepare yourself.

1. Know Your Assets and Debts. There should be nothing about your marital finances that you do not know. Take the necessary steps to access accounts, your financial advisers, and your CPA. Copy all year-end financial statements, work-related documents (W-2s, 1099s, 401(k), Individual Retirement Account, pension) and personal bank and investment statements. Run a credit report on yourself and your spouse.

2. Separate Nonmarital Assets. The dictionary would define nonmarital assets as property considered by the courts to belong to one spouse and to be unavailable for equitable distribution. More simply, this means property that is not divided in a divorce proceeding. Some types of nonmarital assets include inherited property, items brought to the marriage or owned before the marriage, gifts given specifically to one person, or proceeds from personal injuries.

Sometimes nonmarital assets can become mixed with marital assets, such as when a boat that was purchased before marriage is sold during marriage to purchase another item like a car. In situations like this, it is very important to have a paper trail documenting the assets’ activity to be able to claim them as nonmarital.

3. Walk the Line. In other words, don’t do stupid stuff. Consider yourself to be under a microscope—so no alcohol, no drugs, no questionable behavior. Put your love life on hold and stay single. Change passwords on all social media accounts and refrain from posting anything that would upset your children or spouse. In fact, it may be best to avoid social media all together until the process is concluded.

4. Focus on the Kids. If you have children, start making a list of parenting issues and visitation options. Be sure to know details of the children’s lives—who their doctors, teachers, and friends are and what activities they are involved in. Hopefully you already have a solid relationship, but if not, there’s no better moment to start spending quality time with your kids.

5. Hire a Divorce Lawyer. Even by adhering to all of these principles, divorce can be very confusing and difficult to manage. There is a large amount of information, often factspecific, that must be considered. For this reason, it is important to consult with and hire an experienced divorce attorney who will be able to walk you through this process.

Lastly, respect each other, save the arguments for another day, and try to start a new tradition for yourself. By doing that, the next year will be easier and you will be on your way to making the best of the rest of your life.

We Can Help

Divorce matters are important and often require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the needs of the children and parents are properly considered. If you need legal assistance, contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or by completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

When Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live with in North Carolina

There are many urban myths in family law, and whether a child can choose which parent to live with is one of the most persistent matters in a divorce.

A child’s best interests are the primary focus of North Carolina family law and there is no specific age for a child’s right to choose. As a result, it is not accurate to say that when a child reaches 12 years old they will have the right to choose which parent to live with. North Carolina custody law accounts for a child’s opinion no matter the age.

Split Custody Schedules

Most divorces have children spending split time with each of their parents. With some creativity, there are many ways to create a schedule that maximizes quality time with each parent. Often, what works when a child is in elementary school may not work in middle school or high school.

The biggest issues cited when a child expresses that they would prefer to spend more time with a particular parent involve access to electronics, cars, supervision of homework, and extracurricular activities (sports). One parent may place more weight on homework and grades, while the other parent may feel that sports and extracurriculars are more important. There isn’t any right or wrong approach and ultimately depends on the needs of the child.

Custody Schedules for Children Above The Age of 16

By the time a child begins to drive, visitation schedules often go by the wayside. The teen can spend time with either parent or instead use that time for personal relationships. Both parents usually experience a loss of control of their child’s schedule and unequal time with each parent could occur. Parents should practice the best possible communication with each other, keeping the child’s best interests top of mind.

Parents may not always agree with each other over punishments for broken rules in one or the other household. If both parents cannot agree on a single approach, each household should be consistent in what is or is not acceptable behavior, and what are appropriate punishments.

There are always cases in which your child may begin to go down paths that might lead to harm. Drugs, sex, and risky behavior are best addressed with a unified front from both households. However, filing a lawsuit is not always the best way to address these issues. It isn’t always possible for both parents to agree on a course of action.

We Can Help

Divorce matters are important and often require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the needs of the children and parents are properly considered. If you need legal assistance, contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or by completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

Divorce Lawyer Puzzle

Why and When You Need a Divorce Lawyer

When a marriage is ending, it can be tremendously difficult to deal with both the emotional trauma and your fears about how life will go on after a divorce. The legal guidelines surrounding divorce lead to additional concerns. Questions like, “Do I need a divorce lawyer to file for divorce?” and, “What can a divorce lawyer help me with?” are common, along with many others.

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

In many cases, speaking with a qualified divorce lawyer about your legal options and how the divorce process works can reduce some of that anxiety. A divorce lawyer can also advise you on how best to protect your rights and interests, especially if you and your spouse don’t agree about how to resolve your divorce settlement.

When should you talk to a divorce lawyer?

  • You think you want to get divorced, but want to know what your options are.
  • You want to get divorced.
  • Your spouse is talking to a divorce lawyer.
  • You have been served with divorce papers.
  • You think your spouse wants a divorce and may be intentionally hiding or spending your marital assets.

Why talk to a divorce lawyer?

Divorce is a process that, at the end of the day, dissolves a legal partnership between two people. The kind of legal representation you need when faced with a divorce depends on the complexity of that partnership.

The more complex your divorce, the greater your need will be for legal representation to protect your rights and interests. Considerations when evaluating how complex your divorce case will be:

  • Assets and Property. The more property you and your spouse own, the more complex it will be to value and divide those assets. This can include savings, real estate, investments, retirement, business interests, and so on.
  • Children. If you and your spouse have minor children together, you will need to resolve child custody issues in your divorce either through negotiations or trial.
  • Support. The necessity of financial support of a spouse (alimony) or minor children (child support) can dramatically increase the complexity of your divorce.

You need to make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to.

Often, the “quickie” or cheap, do-it-yourself divorces you see advertised can result in a settlement agreement that you may not fully understand. If you’ve agreed to something unknowingly, divorce settlements and parenting plans can be difficult and expensive to modify after the divorce is final, and you’ll end up having to hire a lawyer anyway.

The services of a qualified divorce lawyer at the beginning can help ensure that you don’t agree to anything you don’t understand – it’s their job to explain to you what the legal documents mean before you sign.

You may have legal issues to resolve that you aren’t aware of.

A lawyer can make sure that your divorce settlement addresses every issue pertinent to your situation, both big and small. During a do-it-yourself divorce process, people often overlook issues like future college costs for children, tax issues, division of retirement assets, parenting plan contingencies, proper allocation of debts, and other concerns. A divorce lawyer will be able to identify and ensure that your divorce settlement addresses all the issues.

Is it ever safe to divorce without hiring a lawyer?

If your marriage lasted a very short time (a year or two) and you and your spouse have no children, are not pregnant, have minimal assets (less than $30,000), no major debt (less than $15,000), and agree on all the terms of the divorce, the risks of divorcing without legal representation are much lower, though still present.

In most cases, however, divorces are not that simple. Consulting with a divorce lawyer can provide a wealth of information you may not have known. Representation from a divorce lawyer can ensure that the divorce settlement you receive will protect you now and well into the future, especially if your case involves property or children.

Contacting a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the best course of action, we invite you to speak with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney. Contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an experienced family law attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

Telling Your Children About Divorce

Children and DivorceHow to Have the Divorce Talk with Your Child

Divorce is never easy, especially for children. The way you break the news to your children can direct the course of your children’s emotional and psychological state throughout the divorce process. The approach you and your spouse take when having the divorce talk with your children carries great weight, so make sure you do it the right way.

Before we get into a list of things you should and shouldn’t say to your children after you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, it is important to remember that this news should come from both parents. Having a united front is one of the best ways to help your children cope with the news of divorce.

Things You Should Tell Your Children

Tell your children how this will affect them.

It is vital that your children come out of the conversation knowing how this decision will affect them. Tell your children not only about your decision, but also of the ramifications of that decision. Will this change where they live, where they go to school and how often they will see both of their parents? These are things your children need to know.

Tell your children where they are going to live.

In the same vein, it is important to tell your children that their living situation will likely change, even if you are unsure of all the details at the time you have this conversation. Whatever you tell your children, make sure they know that things will change in this regard.

Tell your children that you both love them.

Above all, perhaps the most important thought you should communicate to your children is that you and your spouse love them very much, and your decision to divorce is in no way their fault. Tell them that no matter what happens, your and your spouse’s love for them will not change.

Things to Avoid Telling Your Children

Don’t use accusatory language.

Blaming your spouse, a third party, or even inadvertently blaming your children for the divorce will, almost certainly, emotionally and psychologically traumatize your children. Blaming, whether overtly or subtly, is something that should never enter this type of conversation.

Don’t divulge too many details.

While you want your children to be aware of your decision to divorce and how this will affect them, there are certain details about your reasons for divorce that they have no need to know about. Sharing too much information usually does more harm than good.

Don’t oversimplify your explanation.

Just as divulging too many details about your reasons to divorce can be harmful, so also is oversimplifying your explanation of the situation. If the talk you and your spouse have with your children leads them to believe that nothing will change, you’ve done it wrong.

After you have finished explaining your decision to your children, be ready to answer their questions, be sensitive to their feelings and give them ample time to process the news.

Contacting a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the best course of action, we invite you to speak with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney. Contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter.  You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing the contact form on this website.  We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service!


Court Backlogs & Delays Impacting Child Custody Outcomes in North Carolina

Most states, including North Carolina, have adopted the Best Interest of a Child standard to determine all issues affecting children including child custody, parenting plans, visitation, child support and decision-making.   However, one factor missing from the court’s analysis is the overall impact of the court’s already crowded court docket or calendar.

The Cause of Crowded Court Dockets

In many jurisdictions, courts experience a backlog that prevents a child custody case from reaching the court in a reasonable amount of time.  Some courts have witnessed a three-year trend in growing backlogs that have resulted in countless families waiting over a year for their day in court to determine a parenting or custody plan that is in the child’s best interest.

In some states, delays stem from a requirement that a family undergo an evaluation if anyone in the household has a criminal record.  Other jurisdictions lack judicial resources and some judges lack experience in handling domestic relations or family law cases.  Many jurisdictions divide judges between criminal, domestic relations and civil litigation dockets.  While the multi-discipline approach allows a breadth of knowledge and expertise among the members of the bench it also appears to limit the ability of the court to handle an increased number of cases in a specific practice area.

No Real Signs of Relief Ahead

Regardless of the reason for growing delays in family law matters, especially contested custody battles, we don’t see any encouraging signs for improvement.  Many jurisdictions have experienced an increase in the number of cases filed due to a slightly improving economy and lower rate of unemployment (i.e. folks can now afford to retain the lawyer to handle the divorce).  The opposite is also true; pro se filings are on the rise, which lead to the court’s ongoing struggle with an increase in improper filings and an increase in contested hearings to resolve matters that could have been avoided by skilled negotiation and settlement.  In a band aid style solution, one jurisdiction outside North Carolina simply reassigned three judges to family courts to hear custody cases.  Of course, the real impact of the temporary fix is yet to be felt as other practice areas may be neglected or pushed off on other judges.

Crowded Dockets Lead to Other Issues

While courts continue to experience backlogs that impact the ability to conduct timely hearings to determine which parenting plan or orders best satisfy the best interests of a child, another danger may be created by rushing cases through the domestic relations gauntlet.  Pushing a case through to a hearing may be detrimental to both parties.  This is because it robs the parties of valuable opportunities to iron out a parenting plan that is in a child’s best interest.  The full court press to push the case through the system actually results in clogging the system more.  The court ends up taking its already limited resources to hear a case that could have resolved amicably (not only is it less expensive for the clients to work through a parenting plan with the help of their attorneys, the couple is more likely to follow a parenting plan that they help craft).  Further, the court is more likely to conduct a modification hearing in the future because the parties do not like the parenting plan ordered by the court.

Mandatory Mediation in North Carolina Child Custody Cases

With some exceptions, parties in North Carolina cases involving a contested issue of child custody or visitation are required to attend mediation prior to a hearing in their matter.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-13.1(b).  While mediating these issues sometimes resolves the case in a timely manner, the unresolved cases lose valuable time being scheduled on the crowded dockets discussed above.

How Long Will It Take for My Case to be Heard?

At the time of this post, at least one county where we practice is scheduling hearings on child custody some seven months from the date of the request.  Practically speaking, this means that it may be at least eight to nine months from the date of filing an action for custody until the parties have an opportunity to be heard by a judge.  This is because the case may not be placed on a court calendar until an opposing party has an opportunity to respond, and the parties have  attended an unsuccessful mediation.  For these reasons, it is increasingly desirable to attempt resolving child custody issues with the help of experienced attorneys and mediators, rather than waiting for a court to decide a case.

Contact an experienced North Carolina Family Lawyer at Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your child custody matter.  You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or completing the contact form on this website.  We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service!

Child Custody/Visitation

How do I file for child custody in North Carolina?

If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement on custody issues, you can file a lawsuit seeking child custody or visitation rights. Once a lawsuit has been filed, North Carolina requires both parties to attend mandatory child custody mediation sessions. After an orientation session, you and the other parent will meet with a neutral mediator in an attempt to resolve your issues and reach a parenting agreement. If you are successful, the mediator will draft a legal agreement that becomes an order of court once it is signed by the parents and the judge.

What if the other parent and I agree on child custody issues?

Agreements regarding child custody should be formalized to avoid disputes in the future.  Our firm can address child custody issues as part of a separation agreement and property settlement or help you obtain a court order, or as a parenting agreement for unmarried parents. A court order is typically easier to enforce — and more difficult to modify — than a contract for custody. However, it is typically more expensive to obtain a court order than a contractual agreement.

How does the court decide which parent gets custody?

The court is required to look at what is in the best interest of the child/children. The court may consider many factors when determining what is in the best interest of the child, but there is no preference toward the mother or father.  You should consult with an attorney to discuss issues related to child custody.

Is it possible to share custody of my child/children?

Every case is different, and you should discuss the particulars of your case with an attorney.

What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?

Physical custody means that your child/children primarily live at your residence, while legal custody gives a parent the right to make medical, educational and religious decisions regarding the child/children. It is not uncommon for parents to share joint legal custody.

How often can I expect to visit my child?

Visitation schedules vary widely depending on a number of different circumstances. A schedule might include one night a week for dinner visitation, every other weekend from Friday evening through Sunday evening, alternating holidays and two to four weeks of summer vacation. In another case, a schedule may have the parents alternating weekly periods with the child/children. Every case is different and a schedule that is in the best interests of the children in one family may not be in the best interests of the children in another family.

Can I terminate the parental rights of the other parent?

There are certain instances where the rights of a parent may be terminated. However, you must typically provide evidence of substantial neglect or abandonment, and the court must determine that termination is in the child’s best interest. Once a parent’s rights are terminated, any future child support obligation of that parent is also terminated.

Contact Lundell Law Firm today, at (704) 288-4096, or request  a consultation for questions about Child Custody and Visitation.

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