Matt Interview Transcript 4

MA: well, under North Carolina law and most states have different structures for how this works, frequently people use the word divorce in an overly broad sense and I'll talk about this in two ways. One, the divorce process itself; a divorce is simply the termination of the marital relationship. That is the final decree that a judge enters that severs the marital relationship. And under North Carolina law two folks have to be separated for one year before they can be divorced. So that goes back to what I was just talking about a moment ago with respect to what the North Carolina standard is for determining separation and it's important because that one year runs whenever two people begin to be separated. Now that is just to get the divorce but that is just to sever the marriage so you're looking at a year before the paper can be filed and generally it's 6 to 8 weeks from filing of the divorce petition until a judge will sign the divorce decree at least in Mecklenburg County, and different counties process the paperwork at different paces and things like that. So that is just to get the divorce. Now there are several related issues that have to be resolved as part of a divorce and those are things like child custody, child support, spousal support, either post-separation support or alimony and equitable distribution, that is the division of marital assets and debt that were accumulated during the marriage. And those issues are generally negotiated and or litigated about independently from that one year time frame of the divorce, and they are interrelated but they don't have to be resolved at the same time. So generally I would say in a cooperative situation the nuts and bolts of the divorce meeting the custody the support the alimony property division, those items can be wrapped up fairly expeditiously if you have two folks they both have lawyers who can get their clients to get together their financial documents and get them exchanged and get them analyzed that sort of thing can be done in a couple of months, in some cases. Generally if you end up in court you're looking at 12 to 14 maybe 16 months usually in Mecklenburg County before you come on for permanent trial on something like child custody and that is from the date you filed a complaint that is not from the date of separation. There are certainly nightmare cases, cases that just go on and go on and go on. I was in court all week this week actually with a case that was filed more than three years ago, and that was for only a seven-year marriage. The answer to that question, the short answer is it can vary dramatically in your typical case you're looking at probably two months to eight months if things go reasonably well if the situation devolves into World War III in court than they can go on for years.

BH: And of course the $1 million question is Matt, how much does a divorce typically cost?

MA: And that's another question where the answer to that is not dissimilar from my answer to the question about how long it takes and that make sense because most lawyers who do this sort of work that I do we operate on an hourly basis, and the more fighting that goes on the more cost there is for individuals. And unfortunately sometimes the fighting is warranted and they really are issues that have to be resolved through the adversarial process and have to be decided by judges. But unfortunately as I think most people know intuitively enter experience sometimes people fight these sorts of cases because they're emotionally charged, because they're upset about the circumstances surrounding the circumstance and divorce. And that's understandable but it's the lawyer's role, and this is why you have a lawyer, it's the lawyer's role to be an objective and unemotional advocate for the individual. I would say that a fairly typical divorce to be negotiated with another lawyer on the other side can cost as little as $5000, maybe up to $10,000 if it's a high asset case and you have to go back and forth and maybe have a mediation or something like that. But on the other end of the spectrum you got the anomalous cases, you got the cases where people fight over things that are not worth fighting over, don't need to be fought over, people are fighting for emotional reasons or for principal and those cases routinely run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. In most cases that is just not warranted and it's unfortunate when situations turn that bad, but at the end of the day it's really up to the client to control the process because the lawyer is the navigator and the client is the captain of the ship, the client makes the decisions based on the lawyer’s advice and those are unfortunate cases but we do see them.

BH: Well Matt it looks like we have barely scratched the surface here but we've got a little bit less than about 3 minutes left in this segment of the program so if you would like to make some closing remarks and let us know about your firm and how they can get in touch with you if they have other questions.

MA: Sure, as you mentioned earlier the name of our firm is Arnold & Smith PLLC, our website is www.ArnoldSmithLaw.com and that is really our online resume, you can find an awful lot of information about us as you mentioned before Brad Smith and I we both grew up in Charlotte, were both from Charlotte we are raising our families here we are very entrenched in the community and consider this to be our town and we take great pride in what we do. You can find our practice areas on our website, generally speaking we are a litigation firm we have nine lawyers we are located at the corner of fifth and McDowell Street in downtown Charlotte across the street from the main post office branch in the historic John Price Carr house, it’s a big yellow Victorian historical home. We have nine lawyers, we handle family law matters, criminal defense matters, bankruptcy matters, construction litigation matters, business litigation matters, and we also handle personal injury matters which include civil rights actions and 1983 cases. We are advocates, we go to court we fight for people, we try to keep our role in the process as objective as possible, it is our job to fight for people and we take great pride in doing it the right way. I think that's about it

BH: Well we are happy to have had you with us today Matt, we were glad to meet Brad a few weeks ago and it was nice to have you also and we do appreciate that. I think you especially gave us some good advice at the beginning of the program because I think even what you said about finding a good divorce attorney will also hold true for any other legal matters that you need handled. Check out these websites and word-of-mouth and so forth there so maybe we didn't get a chance to talk about as many of the subjects today as we could have but I think you gave our listeners a good foundation for handling any kind of legal matter and we certainly thank you for taking time to be with us today.

MA: Sure I am happy to, thank you for having me.

<< Back to Interview