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Articles Posted in Cohabitation

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How should I prepare if I intend to file for divorce in the near future?”

Unsurprisingly, marriage is seen as a nonnegotiable prerequisite to divorce. A court cannot grant a divorce and divide marital property without an underlying marriage. Though this would seem to make sense, there are instances where though a marriage may not be legally valid, it is recognized by courts as having occurred. We have previously discussed issues surrounding common law marriage, but this post deals with something a little different: the putative marriage doctrine.

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How will the judge divide our property?”

Millennials continue to remake various institutions across the country, not the least of which is the institution of marriage. Millennials have already been shown to put off marriage to a much later age than previous generations, preferring to cohabitate rather than take the plunge. A recent study identified another area in which Millennials are different: their interest in prenuptial agreements.

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can I sue someone for breaking up my marriage?”

Many people have heard about common-law marriage, believing incorrectly that if you only live with a person for a certain number of years you can become legally married despite never going through the formal steps. While common-law marriage does exist, it does only under very limited circumstances and only in a small number of states. In fact, these days a variety of legal hurdles have been constructed to ensure that it is very rare for a court to acknowledge the validity of a common-law marriage.

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”

A recent article discussed the trend among some couples, celebrity and otherwise, to consider new approaches to co-parenting post-divorce. One such trend, known as “birdnesting”, has been around for years, but appears to be enjoying particular popularity at the moment. Gwyneth Paltrow and her ex-husband Chris Martin do a version of birdnesting, while Anne Dudek, from “Mad Men”, and her ex publicly announced that they would pursue a birdnesting arrangement once their split is final.

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does uncontested divorce mean?”

The family from television’s “Sister Wives” is back in the news after a federal appeals court restored Utah’s state ban on polygamy this month. In 2013, a federal district court had struck down main parts of that state law against bigamy, or holding more than one marriage license at once. The 2013 ruling found that the state law violated the polygamists’ right to religious freedom and privacy.

Charlotte Divorce Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Does adultery affect my divorce case?”

Have you ever thought about paying a partner for their fidelity? A recent case tells the tale of a couple who tried to contract for just that. It ends with the scorned lover suing his ex-girlfriend to recover over $700,000 in gifts that he gave her throughout the relationship and reporting the gifts to the IRS as income payments.

Charlotte Divorce Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What does uncontested divorce mean?”

Sugar Daddy Charlotte Mecklenburg Family Law Attorney North Carolina Divorce Lawyer

As same-sex couples in the Tar Heel State and elsewhere fight in courts and legislatures for the right to marry, other people have been seeking “mutually beneficial” relationships short of marriage.

According to the chief executive officer of one Charlotte company that links older men looking for “love” with young women looking for money, the “sugar daddy” business is booming.

Brandon Wade, founder of SeekingArrangement.com, told WBTV that a “sugar daddy” is a man who is both successful and generous and who is willing to foot the bill for a high-class lifestyle for a young, attractive person, in exchange for that person’s friendship or companionship. Data gathered by SeekingArrangement shows that about one per every 250 Charlotte men is a sugar daddy.

Old is, as the saying goes, in the eye of the beholder, and the average sugar daddy may not be as old as some suspect.  Wade said the average North American sugar daddy is about 44-years-old and has a net worth of just under $8 million. On average, sugar daddies spend about $4,000 per month on their sugar babies.

Charlotte-area sugar daddies make around $250,000 per year and are worth some $4.1 million, on average. They spend just over $3,000 per month on their sugar babies.

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Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” I’m not getting along with my husband. We’ve been married two weeks and it was a mistake. Can’t I just get an annulment?”


Dating, courtship, friendship, getting to know someone—whatever you call it—it’s nothing new. Also not new is the idea that knowing someone comes first, marriage second. Or third, or long after you’ve gotten to know someone and, perhaps, learned to love a person.

Married Couple Mecklenburg Charlotte Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Family Law AttorneyMany couples—famously Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, formerly Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, and don’t forget Branjelina—have carried on years-long love affairs without going through the business of tying the knot. A recent study may show our movie stars reflect our reality: so-called Millennials are marrying later—and less of them are marrying—than each of the previous three generations (described by the Pew Research Center as “Gen X,” “Boomer” and “Silent.” On average, an American woman in the 1950s married at age 20; the average man at age 23. Today the average American woman marries at age 27, the average man at 29.

Some families like the Duggars—stars of TLC’s hit show “19 Kids and Counting”—have adopted and implemented dating rules consistent with their religious faith, by which children of dating age “date with a purpose,” always in the presence of a chaperone, and save kissing, hand-holding, body-on-body hugging and virtually every other form of physical contact for marriage. So far, the Duggar “courtships” have been short, lasting a few months and ending in a proposal to marry, and so far the kids are marrying young.

The Duggars may seem like a throwback to a bygone era, but many observers bemoan the weakening of the institution of marriage, caused perhaps by intergenerational prosperity which has caused both men and women to lose the motivation to marry and have children. Perhaps that is why Jamie Otis had such a hard time finding a man who was ready to commit. She said guys in New York City—where she lives—were just players until they hit their late thirties.

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Family Law Firms in Charlotte, NC.jpgA reality that many families are only beginning to face is the effect that divorce can have later in life on caregiving, especially for adult children and stepchildren. Taking care of older parents is hard enough; the only thing harder is having multiple sets of parents to watch after. This difficulty is compounded by the impact of a chorus of people seeking to give their two cents, including spouses, siblings, stepchildren, half siblings, and stepsiblings.

Beyond the problems faced by those who are the children of divorce, worries loom for middle-aged people in the midst of a divorce. They too will require help in the future and the question of who will be around to do it is on lots of people’s minds. The problem isn’t a small one as data indicates that today one out of every three baby boomers is single, many due to divorce.

As we discussed last week (“Gray Divorces” Present Unique Challenges), the “gray divorce” trend is on the rise. They will all need help but who is going to step in? It’s common knowledge (and backed up by studies) that women tend to have stronger support systems in place than men. This means that women will likely be more secure in their old age with a larger network of people ready to care for them. Sociologists and others worry about how men, in particular, will survive without a wife around to help out in their old age.

One sociologist pointed out that because women more often keep the kids following a divorce (especially thirty years ago, the peak time for divorce for those entering old age today) the children may have bonded more with mom than with dad. Absent fathers may not have any children standing by to take responsibility if something happens.

Other problems facing older divorcees include the impact of stepchildren. Will stepchildren feel much allegiance to supporting their parent’s former spouse, one with whom they share no DNA? How about when parents remarry with adult children, some of whom have families of their own? Will those kids feel any kinship with the new step mom or dad and thus feel compelled to sacrifice for their care?

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Wedding Cake Topper.jpgAccording to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, nearly half of all first marriages break up within 20 years. Some people attempt to beat the odds by testing out their relationship by living together prior to marriage. But does that actual help things or only speed along the relationship’s inevitable demise?

A new study, part of a larger marriage survey of 22,000 men and women, suggests that living together is not the kiss of death it once was thought to be. In years past, living together was a good signal regarding the poor health of an eventual relationship. The study author said that now living together prior to marriage is not as big of predictor of divorce as it used to be.

The trend towards cohabitation has been on the rise for decades. In the 1960s only about 10% of couples moved in together first. Among those they were more likely to end up divorced. Today, about 60% of couples live together before they first marry.

“It’s so common, it’s not surprising it no longer negatively affects marital stability,” said Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

The recent study by the Centers for Disease Control happily found that those who were engaged and living together before their wedding were about as likely to have marriages that lasted 15 years as couples who had not lived together prior to marriage.

But how about those who were living together but weren’t engaged? The new study found that marriage was less likely to survive the 10 and 15-year mark among this subgroup. These findings echoed studies from years past.

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