Yes, this is yet another COVID-19 article. However, this article focuses on family law matters in North Carolina. My aim is to help you understand issues pertaining to child custody, child support, alimony, post-separation support, and domestic violence. You may also have a court date that will be rescheduled.
Check the ‘stay at home’ order in your county to see if an exception exists for child custody exchanges. For example, Wake and Durham counties specifically allow citizens to travel for the purpose of child custody or visitation. ‘Stay at home’ orders, or directives, will be found on your county or city’s website. Now, there are also provisions of both the Wake and Durham county orders that could be construed as exempting custody exchanges from the ‘stay at home’ restrictions. There are also certain portions of orders that cannot be complied with due to facility closures. If you have a question about your order, feel free to call our office at 919-521-8810.
Every part of a separation agreement and court order must be complied with. Child support, alimony and post-separation support provisions are no exception. If you lost your job or source of income, there is public assistance that is available. Unemployment is still available in North Carolina as are federal assistant loans for small businesses. If you truly cannot afford to make your payment, speak with your ex-spouse or ex-partner and see what you can work out, but make sure you get any agreement in writing. However, do not just make this crisis an excuse to not fulfill a court order or agreement. Courts will re-open and things will get back to normal. You don’t want a contempt action or breach of contract action waiting for you on the other side.
If you are in an abusive relationship call the police, now. Don’t wait, don’t give the other person an excuse, get her/him out of your life, now. After calling police and making a police report, seek help with your county’s legal aid office. Legal aid is free throughout the state and a lot of the attorneys there are very experienced in domestic violence cases. They will help you file an ex parte (without other party) 50(b) domestic violence protective order. A follow up hearing will be heard within 10 days of the ex parte being entered.
On March 13, 2020, Cheri Beasley, Chief Justice of North Carolina Supreme Court, issued an Order pertaining to all North Carolina courts. That order can be found here. Essentially, all family court hearings/trials that are to take place within 30 days of March 13th, 2020 shall be rescheduled with a few exceptions. A family court matter will commence as scheduled if the hearing/trial is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief, is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law, or it can be done remotely. Some examples of family law cases that will not be rescheduled are domestic violence protective order cases, emergency custody cases, and those involving a right to due process of law.
If you have a family law matter in Wake or the surrounding Raleigh area, contact us at 919-521-8810 for a consultation. Our firm has over 7 years of family law experience.