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What is an uncontested divorce?

Many people call our office and tell us that they are involved in an “uncontested divorce.” They say that they have been separated for 1 year (requirement in North Carolina for a divorce) and they wish to be divorced. They then typically tell us that they still have a house that they own in both names a car that is in one persons name that ...
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Everyone needs to have a Living Will

While it may be difficult to think about right now, you need to have a Living Will. We all do, ...
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The benefits of a prenuptial agreement

Creating a prenuptial agreement can save both parties tremendous time, money and stress in the event of a divorce. While ...
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It’s unwise to represent yourself in court

Pro se legal representation is a Latin term translating to “on behalf of themselves.” This refers to being one’s own advocate ...
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The top 5 things to look for in a lawyer

Choosing a lawyer is ideally a process one should spend some time on. Even when you need to move quickly you need to remember that doing your homework could make the difference between a successful case or a frustrating and expensive failure. Regardless of why you are seeking legal counsel, take the top 5 things to look for in a lawyer into consideration. Reputation Where ...
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What is an uncontested divorce?

Many people call our office and tell us that they are involved in an “uncontested divorce.” They say that they have been separated for 1 year (requirement in North Carolina for a divorce) and they wish to be divorced. They then typically tell us that they still have a house that they own in both names a car that is in one persons name that is driven by the other and two minor children for which they share custody. Additionally neither party is paying child support to the other and they share the child’s expenses.

In this typical scenario, the parties are mistaking an unsettled marriage for an uncontested divorce.

To the untrained eye this situation can be solved by letting one of the parties pay the filing fee and filing a divorce complaint that will be followed up by a motion for summary judgment and finally the decree of absolute divorce from a judge in the proper jurisdiction. To the couple that has just achieved what they thought was the end of their marital problems, this is just the beginning of more complicated ones.

It is true that the parties in this situation may not be contesting the fact that they want the divorce. In fact, in North Carolina only one party needs to request the divorce for it to be granted. However, what is left over is a huge mess that cannot easily be sorted out after the divorce is final. Husbands and wives that do not preserve the right to equitable distribution of their property prior to a decree of absolute divorce forfeit that right upon entry of the divorce decree. This means that there is no legal remedy available to them, or at a minimum no easy way, for the parties to separate their property. There is no way for the divorced couple to easily require the other to remove their name from the marital home. There is no easy way to get the car that has been in the possession of one of the parties back into the hands of the one whose name is on the loan.

Divorces that occur before the marital property of the parties is divided causes a great deal of harm and stress to the couple after they have divorced. Certain rights are lost once the divorce decree is entered that may cause the parties to end up in financial ruin.

The rule of thumb is that unless you have already divided your assets and created an agreement through court or paper for custody and support of the children then a divorce decree may be untimely and dangerous. There is no requirement that a person wait for custody to be determined prior to divorce. However, it is never best to leave these things to the whims of the person that you are divorcing. Child custody becomes infinitely more difficult to decide once the divorced spouse decides to move on to another.

As a family law attorney I suggest to all of my clients that an uncontested divorce is simply the realization that you the spouses no longer need to be together. That was typically the easy part. However, it is neglectful to leave the marriage without addressing child custody and property issues in the proper manner. Child custody agreements allow the parties to have rules to govern the times when they cannot otherwise agree. Child support agreements ensure that the children of the marriage do not suffer as a result of the break up of the mother and father. Finally, the property division allows both parties to properly move forward without entanglements from the prior marriage that will hamper their progress into a new life separated from the former spouse.

To that end, make sure that when you are thinking you have an “uncontested divorce” that you are not leaving behind an unsettled marriage. Meek Law Firm can help you get through both. We will help you make sure that you have taken a comprehensive look at the divorce and how it will affect your property rights, child custody and support. Without all of these things in place, filing an uncontested divorce may simply lead to a great deal of problems in the future.

Everyone needs to have a Living Will

While it may be difficult to think about right now, you need to have a Living Will. We all do, because a Living Will focuses on a critical subject: What will happen to us if we are unable to make your own medical decisions. Do you want prolonged life-saving measures? Are you planning on donating your organs? These are just two crucial subjects that can be outlined ahead of time to ease the decision making burden on your loved ones in the event that something tragic happens to you.

Your life support wishes

Deciding on the terms of life support when you are fit to consider all of your options is exceptionally important to your future health and the loved ones who will be responsible. You need to evaluate the potential for life-sustaining equipment and feeding tubes in the event that doctors do not believe you will recover. If a person falls terminally ill or becomes permanently unconscious and they do not have a Living Will, their family is often faced with traumatic decisions. Avoid extra chaos during such a delicate time and make your decisions beforehand by creating a Living Will.

Organ donation

Imagine assuming your entire life that in the event of a fatal accident or illness, you would donate your organs to save another person’s life. Perhaps you even verbally expressed your wishes. However, when the time comes for the ultimate decision, your family members deny your request based on their religious beliefs and not your stated wishes. Or, the scenario could be the exact opposite. You have always been opposed to organ donation for your own personal reasons, but your family members decide to give consent when a doctor asks permission to arrange a harvest. Either way, this is your decision and you need to have it clearly stated in writing in a Living Will.

If you can’t make your own decisions

When individuals become incapacitated and unable to communicate their own desires it creates a stressful set of events for their loved ones. Regardless of whether your condition is the result of some kind of illness or mishap, your loved ones are surely distraught and wishing to do the best thing for you. Communicating clear instructions on what you would prefer to happen when you can no longer make decisions for yourself will ease the pain of your family debating the pros and cons and trying to decide. You are doing your family a great kindness when you take the time to create your Living Will.

Peace of mind

Sadly, some family members dispute each other’s verbal wishes. There is mental anguish surrounding both the decision to keep you alive with assistance or to let you slip away without artificial means of life support. These disputes often wreak havoc on families, wreck marriages and divide loved ones. Don’t let your tragedy be multiplied by the destruction it leaves behind for those who love you. Control your own destiny and remove your loved ones from responsibility by having a Living Will drawn up.

Contact Meek Law Firm today to discuss your need for a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Jonathan Meek has assisted many people with these important legal matters and he can help you as well. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.

The benefits of a prenuptial agreement

Creating a prenuptial agreement can save both parties tremendous time, money and stress in the event of a divorce. While it might be uncomfortable to contemplate initially, having the honest capacity to discuss how to distribute property in the event of a split is a conversation worth having. Sometimes both parties find that the peace of mind that comes from having a prenuptial agreement actually improves the marriage. Removing doubts about “what would happen if” can create a healthier union.

In the past, prenuptial agreements were often more popular in second marriages and in Hollywood. However, they have become more common among the general populace in recent years. Many couples today are marrying later in life and coming into the marriage already having children or property. A pre-nup enables individuals to protect their assets. Many people decide not to broach the topic out of fear of hurting their partners. It is important to understand however that seeking a prenuptial agreement does not signify that one partner considers the marriage doomed or even in trouble.

It’s not a matter of trust

Many people become upset at the mere suggestion of this topic. They believe that the success of their future marriages are being cast in doubt by their partners. More often than not, though, for the individuals seeking a prenup, it is just a simple matter of “covering the bases.” Think of it in terms of purchasing catastrophic insurance when you are in perfect health and enjoy an extremely active lifestyle and have no intention of ever needing the coverage. But just in case…

One way to help smooth the process is to remember that wedding planning is filled with lots of deadlines, decisions and details that heighten emotions and stress. For best results, begin prenuptial agreement discussions well in advance to enable both partners enough time to honor their considerations and have an open discussion that is not under the time crunch of the wedding day.

Minimize issues

Distributing property after a marriage ends is one of the main reasons divorces become convoluted and even bitter. This source of conflict can be greatly minimized if the proper legal steps are taken in advance. Each spouse’s separate property can be documented to ensure they retain it in case of the dissolution of marriage. A prenuptial agreement also helps to avoid a judge being involved to determine property distribution. Avoiding court will save a great deal of time, energy and money.

In the emotional turmoil of a divorce parties are often emotionally overwhelmed and they respond in unfortunate ways. For example, they may not be true to their initial word about what belongs to whom when it comes time to actually part with it. It is an unfortunate reality that people often show their less than savory sides during these highly emotional divisions. Having a prenuptial agreement in place can drastically reduce your divorce time and simplify the entire proceeding.

To prevent both spouses from sharing debt liability, a prenuptial agreement can be useful for assigning debt in terms of mortgages, school loans and credit cards to the correct spouse. This can help couples take responsibility for their own actions and not saddle the other partner or negatively affect the other’s credit rating. A prenup can also protect pre-existing business ventures from being derailed by a divorce.

Preserving assets for the children

Individuals with children, particularly those from a prior relationship, often wish to protect their assets to ensure that their offspring are financially protected in the future. This is a simple matter of putting your children’s needs first and honoring your responsibility as a parent.

Protect yourself, your children, your pre-existing assets and your future by having an open discussion with your spouse-to-be about how a prenuptial agreement can offer peace of mind and actually strengthen the relationship. Meek Law Firm has experience in this area of the law that will make the process go as smoothly as possible. Contact attorney Jonathan Meek to discuss your needs. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.

It’s unwise to represent yourself in court

Pro se legal representation is a Latin term translating to “on behalf of themselves.” This refers to being one’s own advocate in court as opposed to having a lawyer as a representative. There are a variety of reasons individuals opt to go this route. The following situations may lead some defendants to make the choice to nix legal counsel and go it on their own:

Factors that lead to self-representation

  • Financial concern is typically at the top of the list. While it may seem like the best way to save yourself thousands of dollars, it’s unwise to represent yourself in court.
  • Some defendants have had a poor experience with a lawyer in the past and feel they can do a better job on their own. Every case and lawyer is unique. Basing your current decision on a past experience is not wise.
  • Even defendants who can afford legal representation may choose forego it as they believe the punishment is not harsh enough to justify the expense. However, in a legal proceeding there can always be unforeseen events that come up where an attorney’s expertise would be crucial.
  • Certain sentences do not vary and a defendant may realize that hiring a lawyer will not change the end result. Again, this is based on everything going exactly as expected. Any deviation in the proceedings can dramatically raise the stakes.
  • Some feel that they are better off representing themselves as they detest lawyers and feel they are part of an oppressive system they refuse to be a part of. In common parlance we call this “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” It’s better to be a free citizen walking the streets thanks to a lawyer than sitting in a cell or struggling to pay a heavy fine due to one’s misguided disdain for the legal system.

Experience is valuable

There is a reason it takes so many years to become a qualified lawyer. The vast knowledge and experience gained throughout the entire trial process is not to be underestimated. Going it alone against individuals who live and breathe the law can definitely be a daunting task.

Consider the possible punishment

Prior to deciding you don’t require legal representation, it is vital to understand the intricate nature of your specific case. If convicted, what is the maximum punishment you are up against? The harsher your punishment may be, the more important it is that you navigate these waters with the guidance of a qualified lawyer.

What may start out as an ego-controlled decision could potentially cost you years of your freedom and more money than you anticipated. Alternatively, you may end up with the opposite outcome you desire such as loss of child custody or having to pay your spouse an exorbitant amount of support.

Protect your future

Hiring a lawyer or being appointed one can save you in the long run. Minor offenses may at first seem like no big deal. Minor motor vehicle crimes that lead to increased insurance rates may unfortunately seem insignificant to some. However, a criminal record looks much different if future infractions occur. Think about the repercussions of self-representation if you potentially traverse down the same road in the future.

Be smart, hire a lawyer

The outcome of your court proceedings will influence you for the rest of your life. It can be easy to get caught up in the immediate drama of the situation and not clearly be able to see how these factors may determine your future. A lawyer experienced in your situation can remain objective and give you options you may not have considered.

If you are in need of legal representation, contact Meek Law Firm today. Attorney Jonathan Meek has assisted many people with their legal needs and he can help you as well. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.

The top 5 things to look for in a lawyer

Choosing a lawyer is ideally a process one should spend some time on. Even when you need to move quickly you need to remember that doing your homework could make the difference between a successful case or a frustrating and expensive failure. Regardless of why you are seeking legal counsel, take the top 5 things to look for in a lawyer into consideration.

Reputation

Where did you hear about this attorney? Did you let your fingers randomly do the walking through the Yellow Pages or Google? If so, you need to do a good job vetting this candidate. Do you know anyone who has worked with this lawyer? If so, soliciting an opinion from a friend, family member or coworker can be most valuable. Hearing from someone you trust and how their experience went can provide useful information as opposed to hiring a complete stranger. If you don’t know anyone who has used this individual, ask for references.

Look online to see if there are any issues regarding professional misconduct. Getting positive and negative feedback from non-biased sources can help you decide whether or not this individual is right for you.

Availability and honesty

Are you getting the run around every time you show up for an appointment? If your lawyer is constantly late or you are spending far too much time trying to book your next appointment, beware. Your time and energy is equally important. Sometimes, we all need to reschedule, however, if this is becoming your regular experience with this individual, frustration is bound to set in. Your lawyer should have the organization, integrity and resources to keep their word and appointments.

Experience level

Choose the qualified professional to handle your unique needs. If you are going to family court regarding divorce and custody, be sure that you decide to use someone who has successfully represented similar cases and won. Inquiring ahead of time can make all the difference. Find out how long they have been practicing in your jurisdiction and how long they have been a licensed lawyer.

Review testimonials, qualifications, and history practice along with membership status to ensure that what is being advertised measures up to the facts. Note whether this person excels at trial or if they specialize in mediation. Different cases require different strengths. Understand this person’s abilities prior to hiring.

Dedication

You will be paying this person to represent you. Therefore, it is vital that you feel they are dedicated to your case and your best interests. Trust your instincts and pay attention during the initial consultation. Is the person across from you only looking to make money from your case or do they seem to genuinely have your success at heart. When in doubt, seek more than one consultation with different lawyers to determine who feels the best to represent you and your case.

Rates and fees

Having an idea of your financial expectations ahead of time can save you from a huge, unpleasant surprise later in the process. From the outset ask your prospective attorney how much cases like yours generally cost. Explain that you are aware that, if your case is more difficult, you will have to spend accordingly. Still, you should be able to get a ballpark figure that will help you with your decision making. Just remember that price shouldn’t be the determining factor in your choice.

Jonathan Meek at Meek Law Firm has the education and experience needed to successfully represent your interests, just as he has done for many other satisfied clients. Contact Meek Law Firm today to discuss your legal needs. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.

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