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Monroe NC Family Law Blog

An important legal guide for new parents

If you're a new parent, there's a lot of things you need to do to make sure you have all the legal bases covered for you and your new baby. Knowing what these things are is the tricky part.

This is why we're giving you the following checklist -- so you can be sure that you've done everything you should as a new parent:

  • Understand your health insurance: Does your current insurance cover your baby, and does it offer prenatal and maternity coverage? Also what kinds of tests are covered and how about hospital stays following delivery?
  • Choose a midwife or doctor: Ask friends and select a midwife or doctor that's recommended.
  • Choose a pediatrician: When your child is born, you'll need a pediatrician to visit in case of any health issues.
  • Apply for a birth certificate: After your baby is born, you'll have to fill out the birth registration form.
  • Get a Social Security number for your child: You'll want to get a Social Security number for your child as early as possible.
  • Claim your tax credits: Parents can receive The Child Tax Credit of $1,000 a year if they have an adjusted income below a specific level.
  • Prepare for time off work: Request time off work for paternity or maternity leave in advance.
  • Write a will: Be sure to draft a will and indicate who the guardian of your child will be. You may also want to purchase life insurance.

Trusts can protect your assets during a divorce

During a divorce, many people want to do whatever they can to protect their assets. Financial trusts are becoming more common because of their ability to protect certain kinds of assets and properties. Trusts can be in a will for use after death or during a person's life.

Do trusts protect your property during divorce?

2 common child custody disagreements

When North Carolina family law disputes involves children, the disagreements can become heated and difficult to resolve. Perhaps a mother and father are in the throes of a disagreement about who the child should live with. Perhaps a grandparent is fighting for his or her right to spend time with a grandchild. Regardless of the situation, these issues will require tact and diplomacy if the parties wish to settle their disagreements out of court.

Here are two common child custody disagreements that North Carolina residents could find themselves facing:

Nonbiological same-sex parents: What are your rights?

If you're a member of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community in North Carolina, you're well aware of the fact that LGBTQ parental rights haven't been high on our state's legal agenda. However, last month, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling that supported the cause of same-sex spouses, and particularly those who are parents.

In the lawsuit, Moriggia v. Castelo, the Court of Appeals ruled to solidify the right of a nonbiological parent to move forward with a child custody lawsuit against a biological parent. The result of this decision is being heralded as a positive step forward for the parental rights of same-sex spouses who hope to be parents.

Here's how to help your kids survive your divorce

If you think that you're having a rough time getting through your divorce, don't forget about what your children are going through. Your kids will not be feeling the same kind of weight on their shoulders regarding your divorce, but they will be nervous, unsettled and sad to be sure. If you're so lost in your own suffering, however, you could lose sight of the needs and wants of your children.

Here's what you should keep in mind to ensure you're meeting the needs of your kids during the dissolution of your marriage:

  • Your child wants to spend regular and meaningful time with both parents. Your child wants you to call, text and email on a regular basis and needs you to ask questions about his or her life. Stay involved and let your child know that you love him or her.
  • Don't fight with the other parent of your child -- especially not within earshot. This only creates stress and sadness for your child. Do your best to work peacefully with the other parent at all times.
  • Never make your child feel as if he or she needs to take one side or the other in parental disputes.
  • Never communicate with the parent through your child. Communicate directly with the parent so your child doesn't become a diplomatic go-between or the family ambassador. Nobody wants to do that.

Child custody: Health insurance and health care for your child

Making sure your child has appropriate medical insurance and adequate health care is not something that you ever want to leave up to chance. However, if you don't pinpoint what you and your ex-spouse's responsibilities are when it comes to providing medical coverage, you may open the door for serious disagreements later. This often becomes problematic when parents dispute who owes what amount for health insurance or other medical expenses.

To make sure you and the other parent agree perfectly on these matters, consider including the following health care provisions in your child custody plan:

  • One or both parents will obtain health insurance for their kids through an employer for a reasonable price.
  • When no reasonably-priced health care plan is available via an employer, one or both parents will purchase or continue paying for private health insurance for their child.
  • The parents will pay for health insurance costs via a 50/50 percentage split.
  • Parents will both have a copy of the medical insurance card that belongs to the child.
  • When it comes to the costs of medical care -- including dental, vision, psychological and other health care -- the parents will pay for that care respectively via a 50/50 percentage split.
  • When a medical expense is incurred, the parent with access to the receipts and documentation will give it to the other parent within 30 days of receiving the bill.
  • The parents will reimburse each other for the expenses owed, or pay their shares directly to the medical provider within 30 days of being notified of the bill.
  • Child health care -- whether it's offered through insurance or not -- has to receive both parents' approval in writing if the expenses will exceed $100 for one of the parents.

It’s good to have a property division checklist during divorce

When it comes to divorce and matters of property division, it is only natural to have some concerns. You hope that everything moves forward in a smooth and efficient manner, but you also know that you could get hung up at any point.

While you have your own idea of how the property division process should unfold, your ex-spouse may not feel the same way.

It’s a must to follow these child support modification tips

If you have any reason to believe that you are unable to pay your child support in full and on time, you need to take immediate action. You have no choice but to learn more about your legal rights, as you don't want to find yourself in hot water with the law.

Fortunately, if you need to request a child support modification, there are many steps you can take. Here are some that you should follow:

  • Take action as quickly as possible, as this is the only way to show the court that you are having trouble
  • Inform yourself of the laws that govern a child support modification in your state
  • Reach out to the other parent to see if he or she will agree to a child support modification (this can save you both time and money)
  • Continue to make your child support payments to the best of your ability
  • Document your change in circumstances, as you'll need to prove to the court why you are unable to make your payment in full
  • File your request with the appropriate court

What's the difference between open and closed adoptions?

Several decades ago it was often the opinion of parents adopting children -- and people giving their children up for adoptions -- that it was best to keep the identities of the original birth parents confidential. As such, many adopted children were kept in the dark, and they didn't know who their original parents were. Some of these children may never have even known that they were adopted.

When the identities of the original birth parents were kept confidential like this, the adoption was known as a "closed adoption." In these cases, the biological parents often never knew where their child went, and the adoptive parents never got to meet or learn the identities of the biological parents. The transfer of the child to the new parents would be carried out by an adoption agency, and the records about the original parents would be confidentially sealed and inaccessible.

What the State Department does after a child abduction

If your child was taken from you by the other parent and removed from the county, the United States State Department may be able to help you get your child back home to you. For example, the State Department may do the following on your behalf:

  • Give you as much information as it can about your legal rights and options as a parent of a child who was abducted internationally.
  • Accept your Hague application if your child was taken to a Hague Abduction Convention country. As a part of this process, the State Department will keep track of the progress of your international abduction case at the Foreign Central Authority.
  • Offer a list of local attorneys available to assist you in the nation where your child can be found.
  • Answer questions about your case when dealing with federal and local police.
  • Help you communicate with non-governmental organizations and U.S. agencies that are available to help you.
  • Assist in cases where a child has been abducted and is still in the U.S, but there is a risk that the child could be taken from the country.

There are several things, however, that the State Department will not do on your behalf. These include:

  • Take your child into custody.
  • Assist a parent to break the laws of a foreign country and/or the United States.
  • Pay legal costs on your behalf.
  • Give you legal advice.
  • Provide legal representation in court.
  • Give you lodging or other assistance if you're trying to recover your child by yourself.

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