Category Archives for "Divorce"

Triangle Divorce Lawyers Named a 2016 Law Firm 500 Honoree


We are pleased to announce that our law firm has been named a 2016 Law Firm 500 Honoree. Earlier this year we were nominated for our growth, operational excellence and commitment to client service. It is an honor to be included as one of the top one-hundred fastest growing law firms in America.

At this time, we would like to use this opportunity to thank our loyal clients and partners who have supported us as we have grown. “We strive to maintain an intimate yet professional environment that offers exceptional legal services. Our firm is a boutique practice without the big price tag.”

“At Triangle Divorce Lawyers, we are committed to helping you through your divorce or family law matter confidently and with as little disruption as possible. We focus our practice entirely on legal issues affecting families, such as divorce, legal separation, child custody agreements, child support, alimony and more. Our years of experience allow us to provide effective strategies that can help you move forward into the life you want and deserve. We will be with you every step of the way, whether your issue is simple or complex and whether it requires litigation or can be handled through settlement or an alternative method of dispute resolution.”

As we continue to grow we encourage you to follow our progress, and stay in touch!

You can view the full list of Law Firm 500 Honoree firms here:


Lessons from high-profile divorces

North Carolina fans of actor Johnny Depp may have followed news of his divorce from Amber Heard. Depp is also selling off some of the paintings from his art collection, but insiders say it is probably not related to the divorce. Depp and Heard married in California, a community property state, and the marriage only lasted 15 months. Depp has been collecting the paintings since the 1990s, so it is unlikely they would be considered marital property. However, there are circumstances in which a divorce would prompt just such a sale although it is important that a person who is doing so does not attempt to sell the assets for less than they are worth to reduce the marital estate’s value.

Some people may try to avoid litigation because they want to avoid a lengthy divorce battle or would like to avoid the publicity. Divorce involves having to share financial information, and a high-profile couple might prefer to keep that information private. For example, a former head of General Electric found himself investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission after the details of his retirement package worth more than $2.5 million annually that came out during the proceedings appeared in the media.

On the other hand, some couples cannot afford to divorce. The cost of renting separate homes or paying health insurance may be too steep, making them decide after all to stay together.

A person’s financial situation can have a profound effect on how certain divorce legal issues such as property division are approached. A family law attorney can often take that into account when negotiating a comprehensive settlement agreement.

Preparing for divorce negotiations

North Carolina couples who are ending their marriages need to be ready for some changes. Divorces can have a significant impact on a person’s finances for years after the settlement is reached. Apart from the financial strain that a divorce can induce, negotiations over matters such as custody and visitation can be very stressful.

People should try to prepare themselves for negotiations and court appearances by gathering as much information and evidence as they can. All account numbers and passwords for financial accounts should be saved along with copies of vital documents. The contents of the marital home should also be assessed and photographed because these assets will likely need to be divided.

Divorcing people may be able to save time and money by listening to the advice of people who have already gone through a similar experience. While every divorce is different, they may have learned some valuable lessons from their mistakes that they can pass on. One lesson that many divorced people learn is that it is sometimes better to settle quickly than to argue over every last detail. Divorces are negotiations, and each side usually has to give up something in order to reach an agreement.

Before property division negotiations begin, a family law may help a client determine what assets are worth fighting for and which ones are not all that important. Some marital property is far more sentimental to one party than financially valuable to the other, and this can often be taken into account as a possible negotiating tactic. Once an accord is reached, the remaining legal issues can be addressed in a comprehensive agreement.

Summer Tax Checklist

Written By: David Amiss, CPA, CVA

Carr, Riggs & Ingram, CPAs and Advisors


New Year’s Resolutions and Spring Cleaning are initiatives that focus on motivating individuals to address a perceived need. Accordingly, the aim of this article is twofold. First, to convince you of the perceived need of giving your taxes adequate attention on the eve of summer; and second, to give you a list of things to consider and do related to taxes.

New Year’s Resolutions and Spring Cleaning are initiatives that focus on motivating individuals to address a perceived need. Accordingly, the aim of this article is twofold. First, to convince you of the perceived need of giving your taxes adequate attention on the eve of summer; and second, to give you a list of things to consider and do related to taxes.

Visit any of your local CPA’s office and the examples would be replete of clients engaging in a significant transaction and informing their CPA subsequent to executing the transaction. ‘If only we would have talked to you before’ or some variation thereof is what typically ensues after the first of the year when the client comes in to drop off their tax information. The resulting conversation reveals that the CPA could’ve saved their client significant amounts of cash had they been informed of the transaction prior to its execution.

That example may sound a bit dramatic. However, that which is true with significant amounts of cash is also true with lesser amounts of cash. Further, the benefits to engaging your CPA at multiple times of the year, as well as, prior to major decisions have other benefits as well, just as visiting your doctor and dentist does.

With that said, and hopefully the importance thereof established, what are some things to consider on the eve of summer? First things first, finalize your 2015 tax return. For those that have requested an extension of time to file their tax returns, acquire the necessary data to complete the tax return and provide it to your CPA. For the most part, you know now what it will take to finalize your tax return. Move quickly to complete it. Completing the tax return now has several benefits, including but not limited to allowing you to move forward to focus on a year you can plan for and assessing your 2015 tax return which brings us to the next ‘to do’.

As with most anything, a prudent response to your 2015 tax return is to evaluate it. What went well? What didn’t go well? Did your return match your expectations? Did your return match your plan and or, if applicable, your projection? Did you learn anything about your tax return? Were you made aware of opportunities moving forward? Are you confident in the competence and care that you’ve received from your CPA? These questions are a good start towards evaluating your 2015 tax return in hopes of making improvements for 2016, which leads to our next task.

Once you’ve tied a bow on the 2015 tax return it’s time to turn our attention to 2016 and beyond. Some of the leg work should have already been completed with our evaluation of the 2015 tax return. For those run of the mill components to your return such as wages, interest, dividends and other annual recurring revenue, are you satisfied with your payment of estimated taxes and subsequent liability or refund? Are your withholding and/or estimated taxes adequate for your tax liability? Do you typically owe tax or receive a refund when you file a return? Are you satisfied with those results? Are you aware that you potentially could be subject to penalties on the underpayment of estimated taxes? Further, are you aware that if you don’t pay your total tax liabilities by the due date in April you will be subject to additional penalties and interest? Now, to be sure, some individuals are aware of and content to pay penalties and interest as a result of paying their taxes later. This is due to the fact that they have the ability to use the cash now in such a way as to derive a return greater than the penalties and interest creates. If this matches your prerogative, that is certainly fine. The aim of this article however, is awareness to those facts to enable proactive planning and reducing surprises.

Another strategy is to give consideration to future transactions that you can begin planning for now. Thinking of the pieces to the puzzle now will have a direct impact on your future cash flow. There are numerous tax strategies that can be employed to minimize tax liabilities. Further, potential transactions can be structured in such a way to further reduce liabilities.

This time of the year is also a good time to make adjustments to wage withholding in order to avoid underpayments or excess refunds. Additionally, the June 15th due date for second quarter estimated tax payments is fast approaching. Be sure to pay in an appropriate amount by this date. Furthermore, if you’ve extended your tax return you may need to double up and pay for first and second quarter estimated tax payments to avoid estimated tax penalties.

Lastly, consider making aware and introducing the various professionals you work with, such as attorney, CPA, financial planner, etc. with one another. These are the trusted individuals in your lives that are charged with caring for you and your posterity to various degrees. It’s helpful for these professionals to know one another in order that they may act with prudence and efficiency when called upon.

I hope that this article has illuminated the need to be engaged in your tax situation on the eve of summer, as well as throughout the year. Additionally, that there are some specific tasks that you can address in the here and now. Finally, that in doing so you’ll receive multiple benefits which will be the proverbial ‘proof in the pudding’ of this call to action.

Is Love Enough? 6 Big Questions to Ask Before Marriage from Your Divorce Attorney

The institution of marriage has changed drastically in the last 50 years. Back in the day, a young woman would marry the similarly aged young man that lives down the street. Their respective parents would approve of the marriage, finding the perspective wife to be a decent care giver and the perspective husband a hard worker with income earning abilities. Together they would build wealth, raise children, and contribute to social status of the joined families. These marriages will remain solid with hard work, social and religious constraints, and self-sacrifice.

Today, more often than not, people marry for love. We want not only someone to raise children with but we want to marry our soulmate, someone who will be not only a companion but a best friend and an even better lover. The bar has been raised for committing to a spouse today, we desire someone truly special. However, when the honeymoon period of love fades, and it will, unless you and your spouse are one of those sickening perfect couple everyone loves in the movies but despises in real life, it’s important to know what to expect underneath the crown of love. There may be other questions you may personally want to ask your partner, but consider the six questions listed below as a starting point to open the channels of communication about committing your lives to each other.

1. Do you want children?

This is very important to discuss honestly before marriage. If the answers are different, no matter how much love you have, one party will resent the other for pressuring the decision one way or the other. If the answer is yes, then the follow-up questions are, how many? when? and will you help change the diapers? It is also important to discuss what role each will play as a parent.

2. How important is religion?

Are both partners equally entrenched or removed from their respective religions? Are there differences in each other’s families when it comes to religion and how will you deal with that? How will you as a couple celebrate religious holidays? If you plan on having children, how big of a role do you see religion playing in the education and upbringing of the child?

3. Is it my debt or our debt?

When it comes to divorce, your debt is my debt, but couples can still keep finances physically separate during the marriage. Discussing finances is crucial, as it is often a big source of arguments that arise during marriage. Will you and your partner be sharing bank accounts or would someone prefer to keep resources separate? When seriously contemplating marriage, disclosing debts is very important. Additionally, if your incomes greatly differ it might be helpful to budget according to each owns proportional income. Ask yourselves how much you’d be willing to spend on a luxury item, like a car. This question, in particular, will let you know whether your partner is cautious or reckless when it comes to spending habits.

4. How important is sex to you?

They say there are three true pillars to a happy and loving relationship: trust, laughter, and affection. Partners need to be able to trust each other, which comes by way of honesty and being open, discourse not distance. Partners need to have the same sense of humor, whether it’s sarcasm or void of humor altogether – happiness is love. Equally as important, couples need to be on the same level of desired affection. A healthy relationship will involve discussing what each partner enjoys about sex, how often they desire to have sex, and how important it is to them in the relationship. It is imperative that both partners remain sexually satisfied throughout the marriage.

5. How did your family handle conflict?

Was your family the type that screamed and threw objects across the room, calmly sat down and discussed issues, or did your family distance themselves from each other when disagreements arose? A person’s family dynamic often reflects on how they handle conflict, or it may have drastically changed the way a person desires to handle disagreements. It is important for couples to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with conflict. There will be many hard times during the span of a marriage, and if one partner shuts down while the other craves open, honest discussions, the marriage will likely not last long.

6. Where are we 10 years from now?

What are each partner’s relationship goals? What are their personal goals? If one partner desires to go back to school to get his PhD., knowing this will take another 5+ years of dedication, and perhaps relocation to a different state, the other partner might have concerns if she is ready to start a family and wants to stay close to her family. This is also an opportunity to discuss each other’s opinions on divorce and what their expectations of marriage are. It might be that one person truly isn’t ready, and will never be ready, to commit to marriage.

If you don’t deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it during the marriage. Honesty is, as always, the bedrock of a strong and fulfilling relationship. Being completely honest with each other before marriage when answering the above questions, and more not included, will spur important discussions that will hopefully give couples a chance to explore these very intimate and important areas of their life before committing to marriage. Of course, the answers to the questions could change with time, as people do change, but getting started in the same direction as your spouse will let you know the love is accompanied by compatibility.

The role of trusts in complex asset division

Couples who manage to accumulate wealth and experience a certain lifestyle during their marriage could be in for a surprise in the event of a divorce. A high asset divorce in North Carolina can have a dramatic effect on the lives and finances of the parties. Retirement plans might have to be changed in light of the asset division, associated with a marital dispute.

An offshore account might be one method someone might consider as a way to hide money from a spouse in anticipation of a dispute over an asset division. Such conduct might conflict with financial disclosure rules designed to prevent one spouse from hiding assets to circumvent an asset division. Trusts, however, might offer a method for parents to allocate assets to their children while shielding the assets in the event of their own divorce or the divorce of one or more of their children.

Setting up an irrevocable trust in which the beneficiary does not control the distribution of the assets or income of the trust is one method of protecting the assets from the beneficiary’s spouse in a divorce. Some courts limited the effect of income distributions from a trust on spousal support requests by ruling that only those payments actually made in the past to the spouse could be taken into consideration. The theory applied by the court was that future payments, if any, were not within the control of the spouse seeking spousal support.

Whether real estate and other assets in a trust become marital property in a divorce dispute depends upon many factors. Individuals contemplating the creation of a trust for their children, or individuals involved in a divorce in which an irrevocable trust might be an issue, might benefit from consulting with an attorney familiar with complex asset division.

“Gotham” star ordered to pay child and spousal support

North Carolina residents who are fans of the television series “Gotham” may have heard about the ongoing child custody dispute between actress Morena Baccarin and her estranged husband Austin Chick. The parents have a 2-year-old son together, and they have shared legal custody of the boy since separating. After co-parenting in New York, Chick decided to move to Los Angeles, and a fight over physical custody ensued.

In a recent development in their divorce case, Baccarin was ordered to pay Chick both child support and spousal support. Baccarin will have to pay $2,693 per month in child support and $20,349 in spousal support. The monthly spousal support order is indefinite, but it will terminate if Chick gets remarried.

Three months after Chick filed for divorce from Baccarin, news came out that Baccarin was romantically involved with her co-star on ‘Gotham,” Ben McKenzie. It was also revealed that Baccarin was pregnant with McKenzie’s child. According to court documents, Chick decided to move from New York to Los Angeles after he learned that Baccarin had a boyfriend.

When two married parents decide to separate, it is often necessary to ask a judge to make temporary orders for child custody and spousal support. Although a temporary order may be changed later on, it can set the precedent for the permanent court order. An attorney may be able to help a parent who is separating from their spouse to petition for temporary orders for child custody and spousal support.

Boxes, Bows and Gifts to the Marriage

By Matthew Jackson

The holidays are generally a time of family togetherness, merriment, and gift exchanges. Because of the traditions and hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many clients wait to seek legal services until after the holidays. Yet, it is commonly realized well before the New Year that a separation/divorce may be looming. Waiting until after the business and traditions of the holiday season allows a person to avoid potentially awkward conversations with family and muddled schedules for the holidays–after all, no one wants to complicate and introduce negativity to a time that is supposed to be filled with enjoyment and gifts. However, how might giving and/or receiving Christmas gifts (or any other gifts during the marriage) prior to separation be affected once the separation process begins?

Generally, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered marital property and subject the presumptive 50/50 split many Judges enforce in litigation. However, depending on the circumstances, gifts are treated differently. There are a few nuances to be mindful of and observe:

First, gifts from family, friends or parents (even paramours which may be applicable considering we are talking about divorce) to one spouse are presumed to be the separate property of that spouse and would pass outside the 50/50 split. This presumption may be overcome if the other spouse can show lack of donative intent to just the one spouse, or that it was intended to be a gift to the marriage by the gifting party. So, in the event your soon to be ex-mother-in-law has a real soft spot for you and admits that it was a gift to the marriage under cross-examination at trial, your ex-spouse probably gets to keep the gifts from her family and friends and vice versa.

Second, in the situation where one spouse gifts to another spouse, there is the opposite presumption applied by the law that it is to be a gift to the marriage as a whole. Again, evidence to the contrary can overcome that presumption. Just be mindful to avoid saying something like “this is for you honey, no matter what, even after you leave me for the pool boy”. A practical consideration is that many people like to video record their Christmas mornings or other special occasions, so be careful not to say something definitive, like the above.

A final thought regarding marital gifts: gifting real estate. The rule regarding conveying property from one spouse to both spouses by the entireties creates a strong presumption that the land is now marital property and subject to a 50/50 division. Most people are not 18th-century French Aristocracy, so many spouses may not be looking to get their husband or wife some land for a Christmas gift. However, it’s not uncommon for a spouse on their second or third marriage to convey a deed from one spouse in real estate to both spouses. Land that is paid for, free and clear and owned outright from the bank could then be converted from separate property to marital property if it creates a tenancy by the entireties. The law presumes that the land conveyed in this way is marital property, even if it was fully paid for long before the marital relationship in question. You may overcome this presumption only by clear, cogent and convincing evidence (which is a higher burden required than in the above two situations). You may find it necessary to do so when executing a deed of trust on wholly owned property in order to gain access to liquid capital (i.e. refinance). The bottom line is that if you put his or her name on it, the characterization of the real estate as separate property at a later divorce litigation will complicate the process and often result in a windfall for the non-gifting spouse in the form of a marital interest in property that otherwise would not have been.

Gift giving is often times rewarding and provides enjoyment to see the excitement in the recipient. Receiving gifts can be just as fun and offers a sense of gratitude toward the giver. However, whether you are giving or receiving gifts this holiday season, and possibly considering separating, be mindful of who and what you are giving to whom and what gifts are given to you and/or your spouse by friends and family. Focus on quality time with your loved ones and ringing in a New Year that brings a promise of new possibilities.

Dealing with alimony

Courts consider a number of factors when determining whether to order spousal support in a particular case. These factors may include such things as the length of the marriage, the total gross income of each spouse, whether a nonworking spouse has the education and background needed to enter the workforce and the age of the parties. When the marriage has been a long one and there is a large disparity between the incomes of the two spouses, alimony may be likely to be ordered.

People have a couple of options when they believe they are going to be required to pay alimony. They can try to negotiate an agreed-upon monthly amount with a specified duration. They might also be able to offer to buy out the other spouse’s potential right to alimony payments in order to prevent having to make continuous monthly payments. Some spouses who stand to receive alimony also choose to forgo it because of their beliefs in self-sufficiency or simply the desire to cut all ties.

When spousal maintenance is set and ordered by the court, the paying spouse will be required to pay the amount each month exactly as ordered. If their financial situation later changes in a substantial way, they may want to see a family law attorney. Through their attorney, the paying spouse can seek to modify the ordered amount to one that is more affordable. The spouse may also file such a request if their former spouse’s financial situation has changed to a degree that they no longer need the payments.

Dealing with the impact of disability on divorce-related support

In the case of a high-asset divorce, there may be sufficient assets to offset the loss of income attributed to a disabling condition. However, an insurance policy could help in satisfying that obligation for those who otherwise would not be able to continue making support payments. In many cases, life changes can result in non-payment, which can lead to both legal and financial problems. Carrying a disability policy can guard against this problem. Those who have limited resources may be able to obtain such coverage at an affordable price. In high-asset situations, a larger policy could require underwriting.

In addition to an insurance policy, a disabled individual’s children may be able to receive benefits under that parent’s Social Security earnings record. An ex-spouse might also qualify for spousal benefits while caring for the minor child of that other parent. The length of the marriage may play a role in access to these benefits.

The option of carrying disability insurance to cover unpaid support might not be known to an individual who is going through a divorce. However, an attorney may provide information about the benefits of this while discussing child support and alimony options.