Three Major Issues in Family Law Cases

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


Every divorce and family law case is different because every family is different. There are different family dynamics, marital assets, and child custody disputes. While the specific facts of each case are different, there are commonalities among many family law divorce cases. The following are the three of the major issues that commonly arise in a divorce proceedings.


law-offices-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Family-Law-Attorney-300x218Equitable Distribution


North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property will divided according to equitable distribution. This does not mean that property will be distributed evenly. Equitable and even are not synonymous with each other in this instance. Equitable distribution is more in line with the concept of fairness than equality.


There are two important dates to consider when determining what of a couple’s property is marital property and therefore subject to equitable distribution. The date of the marriage and the date of separation are important dates that the court will look at in determining which of the assets are marital assets. One spouse must file for equitable distribution before the finalization of a divorce. Filing for equitable distribution protects the spouse’s rights to have a court ordered distribution of marital property should he or she desire it.




Another hot topic in divorce is alimony. Alimony is money that is paid to a spouse if he or she is  determined to be dependent on the other spouse. In order to determine if a spouse can receive alimony payments, there are a variety of factors the court considers:


  • Marital misconduct of either spouse
  • Earning capacity of each spouse
  • Age, physical, mental, and emotional condition of each spouse
  • Sources of earned income
  • Sources of unearned income
  • The length of the marriage
  • Contribution of each spouse to the increased earning potential of the other spouse (education, training, etc.)
  • The standard of living the spouses were accustomed to during marriage
  • Property brought into the marriage by either spouse
  • Needs of the spouses
  • Other economic factors


The above is not a exhaustive list of all factors the court might consider in determining alimony payments. Each couple is different and has a unique financial system that factors into alimony determinations.


Child Custody and Child Support


If a married couple has children together, child custody can become a contentious part of the divorce process. If the couple can not come to an amicable agreement on their own, the court will step in to make a determination of custody. Generally, the court looks to the best interest of the child to make a custody decision. In addition to custody, the spouse with the majority of custody can receive child support from the other spouse to help in caring for the children.


If you are considering filing for a divorce, or are already going through a divorce, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you. We represent your interests to make sure the divorce is as equitable and fair as possible to you under the circumstances. Contact us today for a consultation. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until spring 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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