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Other Family Law Matters

There are many miscellaneous topics that can affect a family law matter that do not fit into the general categories of separation, divorce, child custody and support, or one of the other broader categories in our archives. Please feel free to peruse the following pages for more information. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys about your case.

  • Adjudication: This area of the law refers to when the Department of Social Services investigates and adjudicates whether a child is dependent and/or abused or neglected. A child will be found dependent if the child’s parent, guardian or custodian is unable to adequately provide for the child’s care of supervision and does not have an appropriate child care alternative.

    It is important to speak with a family law attorney as soon as possible to avoid an adjudication hearing where DSS reports the results of its investigation to the judge, who makes a ruling on whether the child is dependent, abused and/or neglected. Once DSS files a petition with the court, however, a hearing is required. If one is required, it is equally important to have the help of a skilled family law attorney during the adjudication hearing, or face losing your parental rights. Read more about adjudication by clicking the link above.

  • Annulment: Annulment is the only other option for ending a marriage besides divorce, but it only applies to certain, narrow categories of couples. Annulment has the effect of legally cancelling a marriage as if it never existed (in contrast to divorce, which ends a marriage that did exist.) However, annulment only applies to marriages that were 1) void or 2) voidable because of some kind of legal defect. In North Carolina, a bigamous marriage where one of the parties tried to remarry while still legally married to a third party is the only type of marriage considered inherently void. A voidable marriage, on the other hand, is treated as a valid marriage until one of the parties moves to annul it. Click on the annulment link for more information.

  • Grandparent rights: Many articles on this site and elsewhere discuss parental rights and custody issues ad nauseam. However, other relatives can also have legal rights to maintain a relationship with the child. This page discusses the visitation, custody and adoption rights of grandparents.

  • Interference with an emergency communication: This page discusses the criminal charge that can arise when a person, including a spouse or family member, interferes with another person’s communication with emergency services. Interference with an emergency communication can be charged if the person tampers with or damages the actual device the other person was trying to use to make the communication (usually a phone), or otherwise interferes with a communication they knew was an emergency.

  • Paternity fraud: This page discusses how to contest paternity and fight paternity fraud, which can occur when a male is held legally responsible for paying child support payments for a child or children who are not biologically his.

  • Termination of parental rights: There are 11 primary instances under North Carolina law wherein a party can petition the court to terminate a parent’s rights to care and make legal decisions for their biological or adoptive child. This most often arises either in cases with allegations of parental neglect or abuse, or where the child was born outside of marriage and the father has not acknowledged paternity.

  • Emancipation: This is an action by which a minor child can free themselves from the authority and/or guardianship of their parents. A minor (under age 18) must be at least 16 years of age in North Carolina in order to be able to petition a court for emancipation. The courts will consider a variety of factors in making a determination on what is the child’s best interests, the standard by which all family law matters involving children are judged in our state courts.

  • Witness intimidation: This is a criminal charge that can arise from domestic disputes, sometimes those centered around divorce, child custody and other family law matters. Actions or threats that intentionally obstruct a witness from testifying or some other aspect of justice in a case can qualify as witness intimidation, which can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on whether the person intended to deceive or defraud with their actions.

If you have further questions about a family law matter and think you may need to speak to an attorney, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for an initial consultation about your case with one of our attorneys.