Family Law Term Definitions

Annulment — granted only when a marriage is adjudged void or voidable under conditions provided by statute (i.e., bigamy, fraud, false pregnancy).

Child Custody — child custody has two parts: physical custody and legal custody. Either type of custody may be awarded to one parent ("sole custody") or to both parents ("joint custody"). If parents are not able to agree on custody, a judge will make the decision.

Child Support — whenever the support of a minor child is at issue, the court may order one parent to pay the other child support based on established guidelines.

Marital Property — generally, property that you and your spouse acquired through labor or skill during the course of the marriage.

Divorce — requires that you and your spouse must have lived in North Carolina for six months and separated and living a part for at least a year before filing a petition to dissolve your marriage.

Prenuptial Agreements — generally an agreement made prior to the marriage to dispose of property upon separation or marital dissolution.

Paternity — the legal identification of the father of a child. Paternity is at issue when the parents are not married.

Separation Agreement — you and your spouse divide your property and issue orders relating to child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support by contract and outside of the court system.

Separate Property — all property acquired before your marriage, inheritances to you before or during the marriage, and gifts to you alone from someone other than your spouse.

Visitation — when one parent is awarded primary physical custody, reasonable visitation rights must be awarded to the other parent unless it is shown that the visitation would be detrimental to the child's best interest.

Our Family Law philosophy is to assist our clients through difficult times as we would want to be treated if in the same position; with compassion, honesty and minimal conflict. We try to reach resolution through mediation and collaboration as a means of maintaining the dignity of the process and the distressed family. Our goal is to have the Family Law proceeding bring out the best in good people who find themselves in a difficult situation. Our goal is to treat you like family during this difficult transition.

Serving North Carolina clients for more than 50 years

Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP has provided comprehensive legal services to individuals and businesses in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Research Triangle Park, Wake County and throughout North Carolina from offices by the state capitol for over half a century. Our attorneys are licensed to practice before all North Carolina state and federal courts. Call (919) 899-9827 today, or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys about your concerns.