Family Law FAQs

Questions/Answers Do I have to file for a legal separation?

No, in North Carolina to be considered legally separated you and your spouse must live in different residences with the intent to live separate and apart. While you do not have to file any papers to establish a legal separation, many couples entered into a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.

What is a separation agreement?

A Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract that both spouses consent to enter into that establishes the date of separation and divides martial debts and martial property. It can also outline how much alimony or child support is paid.

Do I have to show my spouse is at fault to obtain a divorce?

No, North Carolina is a no fault state which means that you do not have prove your spouse is at fault. Most commonly, you must show that you have been legally separated for one year.

Can a child custody and visitation order be modified?

While many child custody and visitation orders state "permanent child custody", they are not always permanent. As your children grow, circumstances in their life may have changed rendering the current order no longer in your children's best interest. If the court finds that there has be a "substantial change in circumstances" then a permanent custody order may be modified to fit your children's new needs.

How does the court determine child support?

The court uses the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines when determining the amount of support to be paid by the non-custodial parent. The court will look at both parents' gross monthly incomes as well as monthly medical insurance premiums and childcare costs.

When can child support be modified?

There must be a substantial change in circumstance to modify a child support order. Pursuant to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, typically there must be at least a 15% difference in the amount of child support payable under the existing order and the order for support was entered at least three years prior to the pending modification order.

What type of protection will a Domestic Violence Protective Order provide me?

A Domestic Violence Protective Order ("DVPO") can provide relief through preventing the defendant from coming to your home, place of work, or even within a certain distance of you. It can also prevent the defendant from contacting you by phone, email, or social media.

How long will a Domestic Violence Protective Order remain in place?

Typically, a domestic violence protective order will be for up to one year.

Can I renew my Domestic Violence Protective Order?

Yes, a Domestic Violence Protective Order can be renewed up to two additional years. You must file a Motion to Renew your protective order prior to the expiration of the original order. Additionally, you must show the judge good cause exists for the entry of the renewed order. Contact an attorney at The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC if your Domestic Violence Protective Order is expiring soon.

My ex entered a Domestic Violence Protective Order against me but is now contacting me and wants to get back together, what should I do?

You should not respond to your ex or violate any of the conditions of the Domestic Violence Protective Order. Your ex (the plaintiff) must file a Motion to Set Aside the Domestic Violence Protective Order and then have the restraining order lifted. Until the Order is lifted or "set aside", you are at risk of facing serious criminal charges for violating the Domestic Violence Protective Order -- even if your ex is initiating contact.