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Family Law Focus, Attorney Taylor Scruggs-Smith Guest hosts with Josh Whitaker

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April 13, 2024 2:00 pm

Family Law Focus, Attorney Taylor Scruggs-Smith Guest hosts with Josh Whitaker

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer

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April 13, 2024 2:00 pm

On this edition of Judica County Radio Whitaker & Hamer's Josh Whitaker welcomes fellow attorney Taylor Scruggs-Smith to the show. Taylor's focus is Family Law and this show will focus on divorce. Question and answer will also center around family law.

If you have any questions and need answers call Whitaker & Hamer 800-659-1186

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Coming up on Judica County Radio, we have Josh Whittaker and Taylor Scruggs-Smith, family law specialist with Whittaker and Hamer. Joining us on the program today, we're talking all legalese.

We're going to focus in on divorce, family law, don't go anywhere. Whittaker and Hamer presents... Judica County, with Joshua Whittaker and Joseph Hamer. Welcome in to Judica County Radio. Your host, Josh Whittaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners and practicing attorneys here in North Carolina.

You can find them at Whittaker and Hamer Law Firm, your law firm for life. And guest hosting today, in place of Joe Hamer, who is on assignment, we have Taylor Scruggs-Smith, attorney with Whittaker and Hamer. Josh, take it away.

All right. Well, Morgan, it's been a while since I sat down with Taylor. For those of you who haven't heard Taylor with us before, Taylor is an attorney over here at Whittaker and Hamer. She spends a lot of her time in the family law realm, and specifically Wake County and Johnston County. So she is an attorney here at the firm, spends a lot of time in family court dealing with divorce, dealing with custody. She has been with us before on the show. But Taylor, welcome.

Hi, nice to be back. So when Taylor's with us, we always concentrate on family law because I'm an attorney, I'm one of the managing partners at Whittaker and Hamer. My feet get wet in a lot of different legal areas. I do not profess proficiency at family law.

Thanks for making that clear to everybody. Family law is a field where you want an attorney where that's pretty much what they do 24 hours a day. They live and breathe family law. And we use family law to cover a lot of things, and we've talked about this before on the show. We talk about divorce, contested, non-contested divorce, alimony. Prenups, postnuptial agreements, child custody, parenting agreements, all those fun things fall under family law. And there's so many topics that we could talk about, and what me and Joe like to do and what me and Taylor are going to do today is we kind of find one of these online checklists that these magazines and these online outlets create for content.

They're kind of a novelty, but they are good for giving us a framework to talk about practice areas. So today, we dug up a divorce checklist. This is from Forbes Advisor. This is a divorce checklist, 15 do's and don'ts in 2024. I don't know why it has to be 2024.

Hey, the law has changed. That 2024 is important. So this is Forbes Advisor divorce checklist, 15 do's and don'ts in 2024. That's what we're going to spend time with on today's show. And the first one, and I think we'll just get right into it. Sounds good.

Yeah, unless you oppose. You're the boss. I'm just here.

All right. So in our divorce checklist, you know, divorce, obviously there's a lot going on in a divorce. It's a very, you know, a lot of times when people come to us as an attorney, I was talking to other attorneys today, when people come to us, they have a problem.

Yes. Rarely do people come to us and they're like, I won the lottery. I don't know what to do. Or, you know, I've got this big windfall.

I don't know what to do. People usually are coming to us to sit down with a problem. And legally, they need to know what they need to do. There might be, you know, they might be looking at jail time.

They might be looking at losing some assets. It may be a divorce where their marriage is not doing well, is going to be falling apart. And so what we try to do is give the best advice so folks can plan.

And so this checklist, some of these things are, you know, we go through these lists and some of these things don't always make sense. But number one on this list, learn your state's requirements for filing for divorce. And Taylor, I think that's important because every state is radically different. I think radically is the exact right word to use because that's usually what I have a debate on with, well, not so much a debate, but sometimes there's a back and forth when you're advising people is that they've heard from friends about how their divorce got handled quickly in another state.

Why is North Carolina saying this? And so you kind of just have to understand that each state handles marital law as they see fit. There is not a federal standard for divorce. Each state has different jurisdictions and different laws on how that happens.

But most states have a residency requirement, which means you have to live in that state for a minimum of six months. In order to file for the divorce. And in North Carolina specifically, you have to be separated for a year and a day.

And that year and a day always trips people up. It's not just on the year anniversary that you can file for the divorce. You have to wait till the day after, otherwise the judge will kick it out. And there's some states where there's not a huge separation period.

Correct. I've heard of some states having three months or six months. You know, as long as you qualify as a resident, you can file whenever, you know, several, there are several different states. So sometimes if you're already separated and moved to a different state, we might advise you to check that state's laws because you might be able to get divorced quicker than we could get you a divorce in North Carolina.

So that I know that does trip people up. That's something we have a lot of clients moving here from New York, moving here from California, moving here from Texas. A lot of folks new to North Carolina are not aware of that once they become residents of North Carolina. But that one year is something that you you have to you have to take care of. And that creates a separation period. Right. And during that separation period, you've got to you've got to figure out a lot. You've got to figure out how to live. Right.

Right. You go from a two income household to trying to still support two households on potentially one income or both, depending on kids and everything else. So there's there's a big financial change, let alone a, you know, family emotional change that could be occurring that you have to start figuring out. So a lot of times people will come to us when they first think about getting separated. And, you know, if if if they and their partner have assets to where they can get separated, they can have two households. They can figure out how they're going to support any kids, take care of kids.

You can come at the very beginning. And if you you and your partner can figure out those details, we can have a separation agreement. Right. Sometimes people just want to jump straight into figuring out a separation agreement even before they fully move out just to have something established, especially when kids are involved.

But, you know, that's not a bad idea. It's always just, you know, are you guys going to be able to come to an agreement because you got to be separated for any period of time in order to start in North Carolina. It's a continuous year. So you guys can't separate for two months and then move back in together and think that still counts.

It's got to be one continuous year. And that kind of goes into number two on this list. Number two on this list is understanding your state laws governing property division and support. And so in North Carolina, if you get separated, there are laws. If you can't agree with your spouse on some of these things that we were just talking about in a separation agreement, there are laws that are going to govern the separation period. Not so much the separation period itself, but, you know, there's laws on post separation support, which is essentially support a spouse can get during the separation period until alimony is established.

Some people go ahead and establish child custody and child support. It's really big to know these things, especially because different states use different terms. A lot of states use what's called community property and they're called community property states. It's not the same exact thing in North Carolina.

So sometimes people think that, oh, I saw community. This is community property. That's not the exact same thing in North Carolina.

It's not being used in the same way. So you want to make sure that you're understanding that, you know, you're looking at North Carolina law. I always tell people to avoid Google because it's not always going to be helpful.

But if you're going to Google, make sure you're putting North Carolina at the end. Otherwise, you could be reading something that's about the laws of Ohio and doesn't apply at all. I know we're we're coming up against a break.

But before we get there, Taylor, I'm going to go to number three here. And number three, this says hire a lawyer ASAP. And I'll just read this real quick, says you and your spouse should each have your own family law attorney representing you. Your lawyer protects your rights during divorce and will help ensure that you make decisions based on what is best for you over the long term, which optimize your rights. But the point there being you need someone in your corner.

Right. And sometimes you don't have the strength emotionally to go back and forth with somebody you're leaving. There's a reason the marriage is ending. Like, do you have the strength to even try to negotiate the money, the assets and things like that? I know some people start off with just trying to do things themselves and then they come to an attorney when they can't agree.

It all just depends. The you know, anytime we're dealing and this is more than just family law. This is in breach of contract cases. This is in, you know, if you've got heirs fighting over estate property, there's always an advantage to have some neutral parties.

You're right. Your attorney is going to represent you, but they're going to be looking at it from a different perspective than you. We're going to be looking at it objectively. We want it to be in your favor, but we're going to look at the facts and we're going to be able to give you some rational advice. Like, hey, under the laws of the state of North Carolina, this is what you can expect. This is probably what you can argue for. But we're going to kind of lead you down the right road. Sometimes you talk to clients and they don't have a good understanding of even what their rights are. Correct. And so getting getting them refocused on what is actually available to them sometimes is helpful.

Extremely, because it sets expectations early. Judica County radio, we are dialing in on, again, family law and right now going over a divorce checklist. These are things you need to know. And we've already talked about, you know, the state's basically we have different rules for different states. So make sure you're getting the right information and understand those state laws when it comes to separation of property. And again, the importance of having legal guidance really from the beginning.

If you decide that you are going to go down the divorce trail, make sure you are working with an attorney and they will help protect your interest in a very emotional event, which is divorce when families do split up. So we are talking about that today. And here on the program, Whitaker and Hamer, the power behind the show, offering up again five consultations in Wake and Johnston County. And you will meet with Taylor Scruggs Smith and again, Wake County and Johnston County listeners. You're available for these consults.

And again, they are complimentary. All you've got to do is call eight hundred six five nine one one eight six. If you've got any questions about family law, divorce, separation. These are you know, these are the spots for you. All right. Eight hundred six five nine eleven eighty six.

That's eight hundred six five nine one one eight six. And if you have any questions, we can answer them on future programs. You can always email the show info at Judica County dot com. That's info at Judica County dot com.

We'll take a short break. Be back on the other side with more Judica County radio. Welcome back into Judica County radio. Your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, Whitaker and Hamer law firm. They're the managing partners. They're practicing attorneys here in North Carolina.

Joe Hamer is on assignment this week. We have Taylor Scruggs Smith, fellow attorney at Whitaker and Hamer. And again, she is focusing in on family law again. That is where we are going today. We are talking about divorce, separation, the importance of legal guidance in that area. Josh, you have a checklist in front of you.

And so far we've gone through three of them. Again, states have different rules when it comes to divorce. Understanding what the state laws are in separation of property. And then again, a you know, when you are going through something like this, it is very important to have legal guidance really as early on as possible. So hire a lawyer ASAP. We're hitting the top 15 on the divorce checklist. Take it away. All right.

Again, this is from Forbes dot com. This is divorce checklist 15 do's and don'ts in 2024. Me and Taylor have gone through a handful of these. But we're up to number four and number four. I don't like this one too much. But number four says decide what kind of divorce process you want. And what I think it's getting at is is kind of making a choice. Are you going to have a uncontested divorce where you and your partner kind of agree on how to split everything? Or are you going to have a contested divorce that may involve litigation and and things like that? But it's not always up to you.

Yeah. So if one is not always up to you because you got to have somebody on the other side that's willing to do uncontested. But I think it is getting to like which way do you want to go first? Because if you want to go in, in a sense, the guns blazing straight for filing for a lawsuit, your your attorneys know that upfront and not be trying to negotiate because there is a difference in strategy there. And making sure you get the best outcome is making sure your attorney knows what strategy you want to go for. So, I mean, that could come into play probably not as much as they're referencing it or as early as they're referencing it.

But has some weight. Yeah. You know, and it makes a point here, this list, you know, an uncontested divorce is obviously cheaper from the standpoint of attorney's fees. You know, if you if you can agree on everything that you need to agree on with you and your spouse, or maybe you're just recently married, so it's easier to separate assets, you know, an uncontested divorce is is is the goal, I think.

Right. And especially when it comes to attorney's fees, sometimes that's the deciding factor more than whether or not they wanted to really argue over everything. It's how much do we want to pay to argue over everything and who can afford it?

And usually, you know, sometimes emotions are running high and we run into the client who who who, you know, wants to wants to litigate, wants to make a point, maybe has the has the money to do it. And that's fine. If that if that's how you want it to be, you do get to make a choice. I guess I guess you have the choice whether it's going to be contested or uncontested because you can always contest. Right.

The good thing I'll say about North Carolina is that in a certain sense, they kind of push you to go towards an uncontested. Because even when you file, they're eventually going to make you go to mediation for child custody and for equal distribution. You're required to try mediation at some point. And mediations where you and your attorney and your partner and their attorney and a mediator who's usually an attorney all sit down and try to look and try to get something done.

Yeah. Essentially, you have somebody on your side, your partner, somebody on their side, and the mediator is kind of in the middle like, hey, if this went to court, this is what would happen. And it's trying to get you to a deal without having to spend all that time in court. And number five, we've kind of talked about number five.

I like it's not really legal. It's just you might you may have to reevaluate your financial situation. You may have to reevaluate your lifestyle.

And you thought you spoke to this earlier. Yeah, definitely. The lifestyle is definitely a big thing that has to kind of be re-looked at. Because if you were spending 500 on groceries, let's say for the family, twice a week, you know, then you might not be doing that no more. Now that you're in a new place, depending on who's paying for what. So, you know, you kind of have to reevaluate those expenses and how much you were spending, how many maybe vacations you were taking.

Maybe you have to evaluate what school the minor child is in and if they're going to be able to stay in that school. You know, there's things that come up that, you know, you just have to recognize your life is changing drastically. So the finances got to come into play about what can you afford when this happens. Very few couples have the kind of income where their life is unaffected by a separation or a divorce.

Correct. Even if you guys are making close to the same amount, that was the same amount in one household. It's very different trying to split that.

Number six is still kind of in that same vein. Number six is aim to refinance debts. And I think what it's trying to talk about is some marital debts will have to be divided during the divorce. And so if somebody is going to stay in the marital home, but there's a mortgage on the property, they may have to refinance that mortgage into their name. Maybe take some cash out of the residence, maybe like a cash out equity line to settle up. Yeah, and that actually is a great one for us as family law attorneys because that applies to more than just the house.

There's cars that you got to think about. You don't want the car staying in your name on a loan, even if you guys are agreeing or the judge has ruled that that's going to be the other party's debt. You don't want that debt staying in your name. Now you can't get a house or you can't get an apartment or a credit card because it's still showing up. So we usually try to get most of those debts.

If it's not staying yours, we try to get it out of your name as soon as possible. Like give them 90 days to refinance. If they can't, then the item is just sold so that the loan goes away. But that could apply to the house, cars, credit cards.

Maybe you have a home equity loan, whatever the debt may be. It needs to be in one person's name by the time all the attorneys walk away. Yeah, we talked about splitting assets, but splitting debt is just as important. Correct.

And number seven, again, goes to the same kind of logic. Think long term. Just don't consider the issues that are relevant right now. You're going to want to think about your retirement accounts, your pension accounts. If you've got minor children, how's college going to get paid?

How's everybody going to, you know, how are the partners going to split those expenses? Because you can lose some of your retirement. You can lose some of your pension. You can lose some of your retirement. Typically in North Carolina, it's 50 percent of your retirement from the date of marriage to the date of separation that the other spouse would have rights to. So if you guys have the same amount in your retirement, some parties might agree to just waive their rights to each other. But if somebody's got a four hundred thousand dollar retirement and the other person has like a fifty thousand.

All right. There's that's going to be up for grabs and probably a big contender in negotiations. But I especially like to think long term for when it comes to child custody, because a lot of people are thinking in the moment about what issues have come up since they separated versus we got to write a separation agreement or a cut.

A parenting agreement so well that when an issue comes up three years from now and y'all don't have attorneys anymore, y'all, you still have something to go off of. There's still some language saying that in this situation, this is what happens. And if you can't agree, this is how you proceed. Number eight. And so this we're still on the do. So there's a separate list for the don'ts that we'll get to.

But number eight here on our list, take care of your mental health. And again, your divorce is stressful. There may be some relief in there.

Right. You may be you may have already had kind of a stressful road up to the point where you're getting separated or getting divorce. But it's it's stressful. And I think we in general, me and Taylor and Morgan and society at large, your mental health is very important and we're all carrying burdens and adding this kind of stress level to it is obviously not helpful.

It's not helpful at all. Whether kids are involved or not, sometimes just splitting between you two is enough of a stressor, especially if you've been together a long period of time. And that's usually one of the reasons we say go ahead and get an attorney. Don't try to do everything by yourself because trying to understand these divorce laws and making sure your rights are protected while also trying to just deal with the fallout of a marriage ending is can be almost traumatic. Let somebody help you carry that load and get you through it that can understand it a bit better because there are going to be a lot of things that come up during a divorce or during a child custody case, whatever that are going to affect you emotionally. You're going to react in an emotional way.

And sometimes you can't pull yourself back. Yeah. Well, Morgan, those are, that completes our list of dues. And so I know we've got some question and answer segments coming up, but when me and Taylor come back, we're going to hit the don'ts. Sounds good. Okay.

Judica County radio. We're going to roll on. As Josh alluded to, we are going to go to some question and answer in and around family law. That's coming up next, and then we will come back and we'll wrap up the show and we'll have the remainder of the dues and don'ts when it comes to divorce on the legal side of things. We've handled all the dues and we'll get to the don'ts on the tail end of this show, but enjoy the Q and A that's coming up. We want to remind you, too, that if you have a legal situation that you're facing, and especially since we have Taylor Scruggs Smith on the show this week, what we're offering, we have consults and we have five of them in Wake and Johnston County.

Okay. That's where Taylor Scruggs Smith is going to be working. And you can also put her expertise to work for you.

Again, she's a primary practice area in the family law. So this is an opportunity for you. So all you've got to do is call 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186. Claim one of those appointments.

Again, they are complimentary. Leave the checkbook at home. Again, 800-659-1186. And we've got family law Q and A coming up next. Welcome back in to Judica County Radio. Your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm. Again, offices conveniently located for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Verina, Gastonia, and in Moorhead City. Again, Whitaker and Hamer, your law firm for life.

I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate. If you have a legal situation you're facing, you got questions you need answers to, you can always call Whitaker and Hamer. The number's 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186.

Leave your contact info briefly what the call's about and an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer will be in touch. And again, we always say this and we mean it. We want your emails.

You can email your questions to the show info at judicacounty.com and we are focusing in on family law questions this show. So Josh, Joe, take it away. During the break, I did some thinking. Some soul searching. I did. I was in deep thought. I was thinking about our... I could see it in your face.

I didn't want to interrupt you. The Christmas special. You know, I went with Christmas Vacation. We were talking about favorite Christmas movie slash special slash anything on video.

And I went Christmas Vacation, but I regret that because I don't think... I think far and away the best Christmas movie slash special slash cartoon is The Muppet. It's Christmas Carol. Yeah, Muppets are good. Muppets are good. I like Charlie Brown's Christmas. I like that. The Peanuts.

Yeah, Peanuts are good. You get Michael Caine's performance. He gave us like a grade A performance with The Muppets. Yeah. I ain't got a problem with The Muppets, man.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you I've got an issue with The Muppets. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you that's the best thing I've ever seen Christmas related. But you've seen it.

Yeah. But again, it's not my thing. It's I've seen it, but it's not like it stuck with me, man.

Like I saw it and then I kept on living my life. I felt like Michael Caine gave like an Oscar worthy Scrooge performance. Michael Caine's Michael Caine. Like, it's Michael Caine. And Scrooge is good too.

Scrooge is way up there. Yeah. Yeah. Especially for the adults out there. They love that movie.

I love them. And it usually comes like later for some reason. That's not like, you know, you think I elf running like nine times a day.

Scrooge usually shows up like 10 days till Christmas. Yeah. Yeah. I'm with you on that, man.

So as attorneys, where do you where do you fall on Die Hard? A lot of people feel like Die Hard's a Christmas movie. It's not a Christmas movie, man.

Not really. I've never seen it. What? You haven't seen Die Hard? No, we'll come back to that. You never seen any Die Hards?

No. You ever seen Under Siege? I've seen the Under Siege. Yeah, I've seen Under Siege. You're a Steven Seagal guy.

I see it. Die Hard to me, I've tried to watch it at Christmas time and like make it a Christmas movie. And it just doesn't do it for me. And it's because I think you can enjoy that movie at any time, man. Any time of the year, it's going to be just as enjoyable to you as opposed to like if to me, if I watch a Christmas movie like at the wrong time of the year, man, it's like, it's weird.

It gives me the, but Die Hard I could watch in like March and it's fine, man. Yeah, you can say Yippie-ki-yay and feel good about it. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

For sure. It's well, anyway, family law. That's what we've been talking about.

We've been talking about family law. You haven't seen Die Hard, man. I've never seen Die Hard. I've seen a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and that's, you know. They reference it a lot. Yeah, they reference it a lot. You just don't like Bruce Willis? And I saw that Bob's Burgers where they reenact it and do like a kid's play.

So I feel like I got the gist of it. You don't like, you don't like Bruce Willis that much? Not a Bruce Willis guy?

Well, I'm trying to think. I don't think I've just seen a lot of, I don't think I've seen a lot of Bruce Willis movies, really. I'm trying to think of something else that I could ask you about, Bruce Willis-wise, because obviously he's been in a ton of movies. I was in the Dead People one. Yeah, he's in 6th Sense. I saw that one. That was a good movie. The Dead People one. Very different than his role in Die Hard, obviously.

A lot different. Fifth Element, you seen that one? No. Okay. Never mind, man. Never mind.

No, Die Hard? That's nuts. So Family Law, last segment we had Taylor, one of the attorneys at our firm, join us to talk about child custody in North Carolina in general and just how that kind of works, kind of give us an overarching answer to a lot of questions that we get. And we get a ton of questions on post-separation support, alimony, and child support. Those are all three different things that happen at three different times for three different reasons. So, you know, it causes a lot of questions. I think there's some confusion out there in the general public about when, you know, when child support's awarded, what they look at versus what they look at for post-separation support, which is the time you're separated before you can get a divorce in North Carolina. And obviously after divorce, there's alimony conversations.

So three different things. We get a lot of questions. And again, we went back to Taylor to ask her about this and then get some explanation on how those are calculated.

Just, again, a good general knowledge base to start maybe asking more complex questions. But here's what Taylor told us. All right, Taylor, I had another one for you. All right. All right. Another listener question based in family law.

And again, I'm taking a listener question and I'm kind of boiling it down to a general question that might be more helpful for folks who might be listening. But the general question I have for you, we all have heard in the movies, you hear alimony, right? You hear about alimony after a divorce in North Carolina. Of course, you have to be separated for a year and a day to get a divorce. And during that time, you're separated. In theory, you're living apart from your spouse. You've made a decision to separate.

You guys are living separate and you have a year and a day of that separation period. And so North Carolina, we have something called post-separation support. And so our question today is, what is post-separation support? How does that work? That's the gist of the question.

All right. Well, post-separation support is essentially money given by a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse during that year-long separation. It's money that's kind of given for immediate access, immediate resources to make sure somebody's not left destitute during the separation period. And post-separation support terminates once alimony is decided. So whether it's alimony is denied or alimony is granted, either way, once alimony is decided, post-separation support ends.

Follow-up question then. How is post-separation support determined? So post-separation support is determined kind of similar to alimony. You have to have one spouse that is the supporting spouse, which typically is the one that was the primary breadwinner during the marriage. You have the other spouse who was dependent upon them, which means they relied on that person's income for their livelihood. And the supporting spouse has to have the ability to pay. So that's the one you see attacked the most, is whether or not the supporting spouse actually has the ability to pay. Sure. But that's kind of the framework of how post-separation support is determined and how you can even make a claim.

You got to have at least those three things. And then it's a matter of how much you're actually entitled to based off of how much the supporting spouse makes. How is that, without going into a lot of detail, but how is that, let's assume the judge is able to determine the breadwinning spouse, the dependent spouse.

Let's say it's determined that the breadwinning spouse has the ability to pay. Is there like a spreadsheet or an equation? How do you figure out what that amount of money will be?

So there's not an exact equation. There is an exact calculator for child support, but not for post-separation support in alimony. So what the court has everybody do is what's called a financial affidavit, and it kind of is a breakdown of what the expenses were during the marriage and what your expenses are now. And it's a way for the court to figure out, okay, if you need this money, how much in the red are you? Like, how much are you behind every month, and how much of a surplus does the supporting spouse have that can help contribute to you being in the red?

So it's not an exact calculation, but that's essentially how we try to figure it out, is based off of your financial affidavits and how much the bills are. And I think this is important, too, because you were telling me this earlier, but we're talking about a lot of different things. So it's important to remember that post-separation support, any money for child support, and then alimony once divorced, those are all three separate things that get determined at separate times.

Correct. So post-separation support, alimony you kind of see go hand in hand because once alimony is decided, post-separation support ends, it kind of merges into alimony. But child support's completely separate. And usually child support is deducted first. You want to make sure the kids get the money they need first.

So if child support's decided to be a certain amount and after that amount, you have no money left for alimony, well, then you might not be required to pay alimony anymore. But those are three separate claims. And I think for our listeners, we just want to make sure that's clear because sometimes they do merge in your mind because it's money coming out of your paycheck, but they're three separate claims. Well, Taylor, I think that's a good answer. I appreciate it. No problem. All right.

So Taylor did a good job laying that down for us. The difference between child support, post-separation support and alimony, all three different things, it's just like anything else, too. You and your spouse or your soon-to-be ex-spouse can agree just like me and Joseph. We can agree on anything we want to agree on, and that's always the best. You're not always getting along. Obviously, you're in the middle of separating or divorce, so you're not always getting along. You're maybe not always dealing with the most people at their most reasonable, but you leave it to a judge. You're going to get what the judge wants you to get according to guidelines in North Carolina, or you can negotiate and try to come to some separation agreement.

All these things can be agreed to when you say Joseph. We always talk about trying to keep... The way I always look at it is trying to keep the government out of my personal affairs to the extent that you're able to. Sometimes it's not your call.

Yeah, keep them off your lawn, man, if you can. We talk about that in estate planning. Really, every aspect of life, the less governmental interference you have is generally going to be better. As an attorney, when we represent anybody in any area, we're trying to make everything easy for you, especially if we're doing planning. We're trying to get you out of having... Anytime you have to go in front of a judge, even though there's guidelines, you don't know exactly what that judge is going to do. If you agree to things ahead of time, you'll know what to expect.

You know what you're working with. Like I said, going to court's no fun, right? Family court's just like any other type of court. It's a last resort, in my opinion. It's there, and it's necessary sometimes. There's nothing you can do if the other side is unreasonable. But we try to hit... Knowing it's a necessary evil is the thing that has to happen, but trying to plan around it and avoid it is always going to be part of a good attorney's advice, I think.

It's a tough subject. I remember back when we were engaged. Before we got married, we had meetings with Catholic priests. We talked about percentages of divorce, how many marriages ended up in divorce, having those types of conversations.

You hear it all the time. I don't know what the exact number is right now. You guys probably might know the number, but it's over 50% of marriages end in divorce at some point. Family law's a big, big deal. I know that listeners out there are going to be like, wow, wow, family law, really?

I go, yeah, yeah, it's very, very important. If you've got questions in and around family law, and you need some answers, you can always call Whitaker and Hamer. The number is 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186.

Leave your contact information, briefly what the call's about. Again, any legalese, and they'll have an attorney return that call and give you some answers to those questions. You can also email your questions to the show, info at judicacounty.com, and we'll answer them on a future broadcast. All right, so Judica County Radio, we'll take a short break.

We're back on the other side. Welcome back in to Judica County Radio. Your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, practicing attorneys here in North Carolina, and offices conveniently located in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuclave Arena, Gastonia, and down at the coast, Moorhead City. If you've got a legal situation you're facing and you need answers to those questions, you can always call the firm, 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186. Leave your contact information, briefly what the call's about, and again, an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer will be in touch, and you can email your questions to the show, info at judicacounty.com. That's info at judicacounty.com, and we will answer those questions on a future program.

It will be anonymous, but you will get your information that way. All right, our hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer. I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate. I chuckle because we are now, in the course of our recording, we're doing video too. You're not seeing that on the radio, but I am seeing what looks like Gandalf with a red toboggan on. Nice look. Young Santa Claus. That's the look I'm going for.

So that is, yeah, Joseph has taken a, I don't know what you call them, but they go in the back of seats. They give the seat like a Christmassy look, but he is taking that and converted it to a large hat. Yeah, you got to have a big head to pull this off, man.

Luckily, I've got a gigantic head. It looks good. It's almost like a Jawa from Star Wars. It's warm too, man. It's very warm.

I feel like my brain's heating up, and I've got so much power to answer these questions. Very, very, very festive. I'm the only one festive.

You guys have nothing Christmas on, man. You strike me, Joshua, as the type of person whose favorite holiday is like St. Patrick's Day or something like that. You know, I do like St. Patrick's Day. It is quite a fun day.

Now that you mention it. I think I have to revert back to Thanksgiving. I think Thanksgiving is probably my favorite.

Because it lets you know Christmas is right around the corner? Well, I don't mind. I don't mind helping. I'm not going to say I do all the cooking by any means or even like half the cooking. But I enjoy cooking, right? And then family gets together. It's one day. No one's really usually, at least around my way, traveling too much. And I like getting right back to work, man.

I don't like a lot of work and nerves. What about number two then, man? Number two Christmas? No? Yes?

It would have to be. Like, what's left? Halloween. You got Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day. St. Patty's Day. New Year's Eve.

You know those? New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve.

No. Yeah, Christmas is definitely a close second to Thanksgiving, I would think. So Thanksgiving, huh? Thanksgiving's good, man. I can see. It's like one era for me, man.

I can't even. They're inseparable. It's like starts with Thanksgiving and it ends with Christmas. And then there's a dark period of the Depression. I do think Thanksgiving and Christmas should be spread out. So like Thanksgiving is like maybe like right before the summertime, right? Yeah. It's too long. Yeah, they are too close.

Way too close. It's too much time off. Too many people completely like. I don't have that ability. I can't just check out like that or, you know, things would go to crap. But some people really do, man.

They just save up their vacation. Yeah. Completely check out. That's what we should do, man. Just check out.

Let the robots run the show, man. And we just go off somewhere. But it's, you know, I just saw it behind you.

So the way we're set up, I can see out. I can see in the downtown Garner and there's train tracks right there. And a train just went by.

But it didn't have Polar Express. No, I wish. I wish. Another good movie. Another good movie, by the way. Yeah. Yeah. It creeped me out a little bit.

Tom Hanks playing like every role, basically. They were carrying, it was carrying tanks. Oh. So instead of cars, it was carrying tanks, which I'm assuming is a normal thing. Christmas tanks.

On their way to Fort Liberty, no doubt. Santa, I would like an actual tank for Christmas. A for real legitimate.

Please give me a tank. That's what I'm going to pull up to the studio in next week. All right. Well, we've been, we've been focusing on family law listener questions today and our next listener question. I got to pull it up. Hey, what'd you cook for Thanksgiving? I'm sorry, man. I didn't mean to derail you. We did.

You know, I don't want to wee. I want what did you specifically cook? Brisket. Yes. That sounds delicious, man. Brisket. Yeah.

The good thing about smoking stuff the day before is you can wrap it up. Yep. And you let it rest. Yeah. And then if something like, I like, we had a, we had an oven mishap like 15 years ago.

Right. And our oven little filament burned out and you couldn't replace it. We're like halfway through a Turkey.

And then what do you do, man? You lose a Turkey. Yeah.

It's tough. Like we didn't. It's like you can go get another Turkey at that point. Right.

And you're not going to, you're not going to fix your, fix your oven. So, so I get real paranoid now if we're going to host an event, we usually smoke something the day before. Good idea.

But if you're going to be drinking Turkey or ham the day of, you know, if something goes wrong, Hey man, I'm still sitting on this brisket. Yeah. Yeah. That's a veteran move, man. We've given a lot of like, we don't give a veteran move after a catastrophe. We got to have a backup plan.

That's a great plan. Like you had to go through some hard times to learn that. And you're giving us that knowledge now.

So we don't have to have the same suffering. And then you don't. And then if you have too much food, like, you know, you got just, you just got brisket of Turkey. Yeah. Oh God. I've got all this brisket. Dude. Yeah.

The, uh, how about you guys? I cooked a lot of stuff, man. I cooked some, some, some Mac and cheese, uh, some cookies, some delicious. I made iced oatmeal cookies.

Like the, like the kind you would buy from the store where they're homemade. Unbelievable man. It's the best thing. Maybe the best thing I've ever made. And um, what else did I make, man? I made more than that.

Sweet potato casserole smoked the Turkey. Just a lot of stuff, man. And you know, you know, I'm, I'm eating a lot.

I'm trying to get my mass up. You've told me that. Yeah. You've told me that. Man. I, I jump-started it on Thanksgiving.

Like I easily took six to seven years off of my life in one day. I was down, uh, was I in Clayton? I can't remember where I was, but I ran into somebody and I guess they had called me. They're like, have you seen how gigantic Joe is?

We need to do an intervention. He asked me how you're, he asked me if you were still doing ice baths. I guess he had heard that. Really? Yeah. And I guess I was like, yeah, I don't, I don't think Joseph's on the ice bath.

No, man. His body's not fit in an ice bath. He's on the ice cream bath. Yeah. Ice cream. Ice cream.

So good. Look, man, I'm telling you, I don't use, I don't use a scale. I don't, I don't ever weigh myself. You just go by feel. I go by feel. You put on your party, you put on your party dress and it fits great, right?

That's awesome. And my clothes are getting pretty, pretty snug. It was about to be a problem. I don't know, man. People may like that.

People may enjoy seeing more of you busted out of the seams. And I, uh, I cut out, I was doing too much lunch, man. It was lunch that was getting me.

So I cut out lunch and I've been doing that for a couple of weeks and that seems to be helpful. I got these things, man. I don't know if you've heard of them.

They're called, um, cinnamon rolls. Have you heard of those? Yeah. Is that your thing?

I've been trying those. Everything's my thing, man. It's a slippery slope for me.

I have like a one bite of a cinnamon roll and then it's like, well, might as well dyed them on the whole tray. I'll eat everything, anything and everything, man. Uh, how about you, Morgan, you do a lot of cooking Thanksgiving, your role, or do you get to step by? No, it's a little bit of a different setup because, uh, uh, you know, my better half is vegetarian and I also spend Thanksgiving with my folks. They're up in the mountains. So I run up the hill, uh, and spend the day with my parents. And usually that, that, uh, includes stopping off at the Daniel Boone Inn in Boone and they do Thanksgiving to go.

So there's less hassle. Um, my folks, you know, you know, just let them relax and enjoy some good old, uh, country cooking for Thanksgiving and, you know, hats off to the Daniel Boone Inn, man. They're open all the time. They do a ton of business. Isn't that place haunted? Uh, yeah, it's one of, it's one of the haunted places in Boone. There's several, but, uh, I shouldn't say several.

There are probably hundreds. Shut up Daniel Boone Inn, man. Yeah.

It's just good food. Have you seen, have you guys seen any more of the, uh, the child goes in the Clayton office? No, man. I thought I heard him this morning. I walked in pretty early, but it was just somebody like dumping trash outside. I can't remember. So our Clayton office is, I always call it the yellow house in Clayton, but that's our Clayton office.

That's where we, it is yellow. Is it a document? Is it a documented ghost or are you guys, is it a documented ghost in this office? Yeah. We've talked about it on the radio show.

That's documented, right? Yeah, so we had, we didn't bring the ghost hunters or anything out to do like a EKG or whatever they do to figure out if there's a ghost there. But um, yeah, it's, it's definitely haunted. You seem like you got lost in thought there thinking about our ghost. It's uh, cause you're just jealous your office doesn't have a ghost.

No, no. Our office is, uh, let's see, the Garner office was built in what, 01 and the Raleigh office was built in the nineties. You gotta have some kind of tragedy. Yeah we're, you know, we're in Shady's today and Shady's was built in like 1908. This place is definitely, and it was a prison too.

Yeah, it was a, it was a courthouse and it had two of the bathrooms where the holding cells. Right. Yeah. So this place is, yeah.

We spent some nights here in the dark and it's going to get, it's going to get a little iffy, a little bit iffy. So Judica County radio question, yeah, we were just saying, Morgan, we didn't make it to our question. So I'll have to do it next time. We'll do that. All right. We'll take a short break and we'll wrap up the show on the other side. Listen, if you have a legal situation that you are facing and you need answers to those questions, you can always call Whitaker and Hamer, 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186. Leave your contact info briefly what the call is about and an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer will be in touch and you can email your questions to the show info at judicacounty.com and we will answer those questions on a future broadcast.

All right. We're going to take that short break here and we'll be back on the other side with more Judica County. Well welcome back into Judica County radio fresh off Q and A and now we're going to get back to it again. You're listening to Judica County radio and it's brought to you by Whitaker and Hamer law firm. Ed Whitaker and Joe Hamer are your hosts at the managing partners at Whitaker and Hamer. They're practicing attorneys here in North Carolina. Joe Hamer on assignment this week. Josh is joined by Taylor Scruggs Smith, family law attorney, again with the firm and that's where we're focusing our energy this week. We're talking about family law, talking about divorce, do's and don'ts.

We've hit all the do's and just real quickly to give you that list. States having different rules, make sure you're up on those. If you're going through a divorce, understand the state laws on separation of property wherever you're getting a divorce and then hire a lawyer sooner than later when this proceeding starts.

It will help contested or uncontested. Make sure you're aware that you could have a divorce that's going to be contested or maybe you're going to be a little bit more friendly about it and it's uncontested. Reevaluate lifestyle expenses, aim to refinance debts. Again there are a lot of issues that are going to impact you if you go through a divorce.

Long-term issues, think about retirement, how that's going to be split up, what about the kids college, how that's going to be paid for. Those are just two examples and then take care of your mental health is where we wrapped it up before we went to Q&A. Josh we now have the don'ts. Right, remember this is our checklist we got from Forbes.com, divorce checklist, 15 do's and don'ts.

In 2024 we have gone through all the do's, sounds weird to say. But now we're going to do the don'ts and a lot of these make perfect sense to me having looked through them but we'll go through them. The first don't is don't use the divorce to try to punish your spouse.

A thousand percent accurate, I wish we could put it in all bold letters on a t-shirt because you don't want to try to make things more difficult than they already are just because you're trying to stick it to your spouse. So the way we see this come up is you got a good offer and somebody's just like no he's not hurting enough from this offer so I don't want to take it. Not realizing that they're coming out on a good way, everybody's getting able to walk away, you can finish this easier and sometimes as an attorney you just have to pull people back from that emotional response of trying to use the divorce to somehow punish and get back at the person for the fact that the marriage has ended.

That's not what the law is intending to do and that's not what the law is necessarily going to help you do either. And that's tough for folks. We realize how emotional this situation can be for folks and we see people who are hurting and we see people who are angry and you really just have to channel that into just the best outcome that you can get and litigation sometimes that is the answer, a lot of times it's not the answer though and just making a client be able to see what their best case really is, taking the emotion out of it can be difficult.

Yeah. Alright, number two, oh this is a good one. Any lawyer would agree with this, any practice area, don't sign anything without knowing your rights. Another one that should be on a t-shirt, please, please don't do this. I have so many potential clients that come in and end up talking to us that are like, okay, my spouse drafted this separation agreement from something online and I signed it and I'm like, I can't do anything now that you've signed it. There's certain statutes that say, you know, once something's signed and notarized unless the parties agree to amend it, it's kind of set in stone. So you could be waiving your rights to assets that you thought were, you were going to get, but you didn't understand the language and now you've waived those rights and there's sometimes nothing an attorney can do to get those back. Yeah, you don't want to be bullied into signing anything.

You don't want to sign anything that's put in front of you without taking time to look at it, having an attorney review it would be optimal. That's a good one. The number three don't on this list is also a good one and can be hard. Don't put your kids in the middle of the divorce. So this is a really big one for judges.

Judges hate this. If they find out you're putting the kids in the middle of the divorce complaint, that you're going running home telling the kids everything that's happened in the divorce negotiations, they are not going to be happy if you appear in front of them for a hearing. They do not want the kids in the middle. They don't want either parent bad mouthing the kid to the other or saying dad or mom left me because of this and now they're not going to care for you. You just don't say things like that to the kids and if you're doing something like that, you need to stop it almost immediately because if it comes out in a custody hearing, that could be the thing that sways the judge to give you less custody because you continuously put them in the middle and judges do not like it, like adamantly do not like it.

Yeah, it's something you want to be careful of. There is, if this goes in front of a judge, a judge is not going to look at it, he's not on anybody's side, he or she's not on anybody's side, they're going to look at it pretty objectively and there's things they're going to, there's things that look good and there's things that look bad and putting your kids in the middle does not look good for you. And on that same note, one thing that I get asked a lot is at what age can the kid decide kind of where they get to live and when can they make that choice for themselves. That's kind of a thing that kids kind of can't do, like even if they appear in front of a judge which judges will fight, they don't want the kids in the courtroom but even if they got in front of a judge, a judge doesn't have to listen to whatever home they think they want to be in and that's because judges understand that they could have been coached by either parent, they could be pressured, there's a lot of things that could be going on. Number four is don't hide assets and so depending on how far your contested divorce goes, there's experts that can find hidden assets, you don't want to try to hide something from the other side if it gets found you look bad, more than likely they're going to find it. Yeah, it's not just if it gets found you can look bad, if it's discovered that you hid assets and that ends up in front of a judge, there could be ramifications for your case, that could be an asset that's turned over or now they have bad faith on your part so we're trying to take even more from them before, there's certain things that could happen to you.

Number five is don't drain shared bank accounts, we see that happen but shared bank accounts you might lose other property if you clear out the bank account before a divorce, a judge may take other property from you to make up for what you took, the assets are still going to be split fairly as far as a judge can do it so draining bank accounts in anticipation of a divorce is not helpful at all because most of the time especially if that was a joint asset, the other side is going to ask for that money back the second we get attorneys involved. Alright, we've got just a minute or so left but number six on this list was don't miss meetings or court hearings, I think that goes without saying. You would think it does but you know that especially comes into play with mediations, don't just ignore mediations because a judge isn't involved necessarily, you still need to go because if it comes out that you were the reason mediation didn't even happen, again another thing that doesn't look good in your favor. And the last one we have is, this one's huge from an attorney's perspective, you can't ignore court orders, once a judge orders something to be done, it's going to be done.

Right, and so I see a lot of people that will say hey we did have a court order but then we started doing this and I'm like okay well I can't enforce this change because you weren't following the court order in the first place, you have to follow the court order unless you have gone back to court and gotten that change in some way. But that's our list Morgan, we made it through. Oh I tell you, just fantastic stuff. Again, Judica County Radio dialing it in on divorce, family law, Forbes giving us the do's and don'ts list when it comes to divorce and we hit all 15 through the course of this show. We've got Q&A with family law, our special guest was Taylor Scruggs Smith, again primary practice area is family law for Whitaker and Hamer, Josh Whitaker flying solo, no Joe this week, Joe on special assignment but big thank you to Taylor Scruggs Smith for sitting in and again always educational, we have five consults again in the family law area, if you are in Wake County or Johnston County, call now and grab one, they're complimentary, if you've got any questions, 800-659-1186, 800-659-1186 and you can always email a question to the show, we'll answer it on a future program, info at judicacounty.com. Another edition of Judica County Radio is in the books for Josh, for Taylor, I'm Morgan, we'll see you on the radio next week. Thank you.
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