Claire's practice focuses in the areas of family law, which includes various aspects related to the dissolution of a marriage, including but not limited to the issues of child custody, support, visitation, property division, divorce-related financial issues, post-dissolution matters, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, and orders of protection.
Prenuptial & Postnuptial Marital Agreements
The purpose of prenuptial and post-marital agreements is to avoid an acrimonious divorce by resolving as many or as few issues which might arise prior to a marriage. These issues include the division of property, the treatment of the party’s separate assets, and whether the parties will be able to seek support from the other spouse in the event of a divorce.
While discussions of pre and postnuptial agreements can be difficult, they can also provide an opportunity for a couple to clarify expectations and make sure they are on the same page about important financial issues.
Claire’s goal is to help clients achieve their desired outcome as quickly and painlessly as possible so they can comfortably and confidently move forward in their marriage.
For more information on negotiating and executing prenuptial & postnuptial marital agreements, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Claire will work with you to negotiate and craft a separation agreement specifically tailored to meet the needs of your family.
For more information on negotiating and executing separation agreements, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
In the state of North Carolina, spouses are required to live separate and apart for a year prior to filing for divorce but that does not prevent parties from engaging in negotiations to try and resolve the legal and financial issues arising out of their marriage. In fact, this is how most cases are resolved. If you are able to reach a resolution with your spouse, your agreements can be formalized in a Separation Agreement.
A properly executed Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract that can be enforced by the Court. Separation Agreements can include resolutions reached related to the division of assets and liabilities, possession of the marital residence, the payment of expenses, spousal support, child support and child custody.
Equitable Distribution or Asset Division
Equitable distribution is the legal term for dividing marital assets and debts in a divorce. North Carolina recognizes three types of property: marital property, separate property, and divisible property under two important presumption in the North Carolina equitable distribution statute.
The first is that all property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be marital. Second, that marital property should be divided equally. Both presumptions can be rebutted.
If parties are able resolve these issues, their agreement normally takes the form of a Property Settlement Agreement which is executed by both parties in the presence of a notary and enforceable by the Court.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the Court will decide whether or not to divide property equally, or on an equitable but unequal basis, considering various distribution factors.
Claire has extensive experience when it comes to asset distribution and has access to a vast network of financial experts who can help ensure the parties’ assets are properly valued.
For more information on equitable distribution or asset division, as it pertains to your unique situation, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Claire has extensive experience analyzing a wide range of income scenarios for post-separation and alimony and is committed to helping secure a financial future for her clients that provides them with peace of mind as they move forward into their new life.
For more information on your rights and options related to post-separation support and alimony, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Post-Separation Support and Alimony
North Carolina has two kinds of spousal support: post-separation support and alimony. Postseparation support and alimony may be available to a dependent spouse under certain circumstances. A spouse is determined to be dependent if he or she does not earn sufficient funds or have sufficient income to maintain the standard of living that he or she enjoyed while living with his or her spouse without assistance in the form of some kind of support from the spouse.
Unlike child support, there are no "guidelines" for either postseparation support or alimony. The factors considered in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony may include but are not limited to: marital misconduct, earnings and earning capacities of the parties, the duration of the marriage, extent to which the earning power or financial obligation of a spouse will be affected due to serving as custodian of a minor child, standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the assets and liabilities of spouses, contribution of a spouse as homemaker, and other factors relating to the economic circumstances of the parties.
The State of North Carolina operates under Child Support Guidelines, based on an "income share" model which essentially uses a formula to calculate child support. The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines provide a presumption as to the most appropriate amount of child support in the typical child support case. They are intended to determine the amount both parents are expected to contribute to their child's care.
Although the Guidelines provide a presumption for an appropriate amount of child support, North Carolina General Statutes §50-13.4(c) permits the Court to deviate from the presumptive Guidelines when to do otherwise would produce an unjust or an inappropriate result.
Claire has extensive experience analyzing a wide range of income scenarios and cases that fall within and outside the Guidelines.
For more information on your rights and options related to child support, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Claire will work with you to navigate the complexities of legal custody issues and explain your options, rights, and possible solutions.
For more information on legal custody or decision-making authority, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Legal Custody or Decision-Making Authority
It is important to ensure decisions like education, healthcare, and religious commitments are handled with the child’s best interest at the forefront. Legal custody refers to who makes major decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the minor children. There is no hard and fast rule determining which parent receives primary parenting decision-making authority in a divorce.
Physical Custody or Parenting Time
Physical custody refers to with whom the minor children will live. There is a myriad of ways to fashion the parenting plan that will work best for your children. If you and the other parent can agree on the details of that schedule, the Court will usually approve that plan. If parents cannot resolve these issues amicably, the court will decide what the schedule should be based on what it believes to be the best interests of the child.
Claire will work with you to navigate the complexities of physical custody issues and explain your options, rights, and possible solutions.
For more information on physical custody, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Claire is experienced at obtaining orders of protection and understands how domestic violence impacts divorce proceedings, parenting allocation, and other family law issues. Most importantly, she understands the psychological effects abuse and is committed to helping her clients address those effects beyond litigation.
For more information on obtaining an Order of Protection or other issues related to intimate partner violence, please reach out to Claire Samuels Law, PLLC for an initial consultation.
Domestic Violence and Orders of Protection
In North Carolina victims of domestic violence are protected by both civil and criminal laws. Domestic or intimate partner violence can take many forms. North Carolina General Statutes define domestic violence as attempting to cause bodily injury, placing a victim or a member of the victim’s family in fear of serious bodily injury, and/or continued harassment resulting in significant emotional distress. The definition includes stalking, rape, and sexual offenses.