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Archive for the ‘Domestic Issues’ Category

Personal Private Investigator Services

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

A lot of people think of a private investigator as a guy in a trench coat and fedora staking out a place and spying on spouses on behalf of a jilted lover.  At Cape Fear Investigative Services, we don’t wear fedoras and we do a lot more than skulking in shadows taking pictures of people.  There are three general categories of services that we offer: personal, business and legal.  Below, we’ll focus on some of the personal investigative services that we provide.

Personal Investigative Services

Personal investigative services are performed for private individuals.  The most commonly thought-of service is the infidelity investigation, where we try to determine if one spouse is cheating on another and provide solid proof of the fact.  We do a lot more than just that, however.  Below are some of the person investigation services we commonly provide.

  • Alimony Surveillance Investigation – If you’re paying alimony and think your ex may have a new companion who is helping pay the bills, or they’re helping pay the bills for their new companion, we can get the evidence you need to reduce or stop your alimony payments.
  • Background Checks – There may be times in your life when you need to find out more about someone in your life, whether it’s someone you’ve begun getting serious about or someone in your child’s life.  We can make sure the person is who they say they are.
  • Child Custody Investigation – If you’re separated or divorced from your spouse and you’re worried about the new person your ex is bringing into your child’s life, we can set your mind at ease or get the evidence you need to let the authorities know that your child is not in a safe situation.
  • Civil Case Investigation – This covers a wide range of incidences, from needing to prove a neighbor’s harassment to helping reclaim property that you can’t get returned.  If you’re having a hard time getting the authorities to take an interest, we can help.
  • Criminal Case Investigation – We are experienced in working indigent criminal cases for attorneys.  If you’ve been accused of a crime or are trying to prove a crime, including homicide, rape, robbery, assault, identity theft larceny or more, we can help find the evidence you need.
  • Missing Persons – Whether a person has gone missing on purpose or accident, or you just want to reconnect with someone from your past, we can help discover where they are now.

If you’re in need of any kind of personal investigation service, give Cape Fear Investigative Services a call at (910) 762-4374 to get peace of mind, because peace of mind is priceless.

Wilmington’s Warm Weather

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

flirty-couple-on-beachHave you noticed how nice it’s been outside the last few days?  Weather.com says it’s 76 degrees outside as I type this.  It’s beautiful weather and a lot of people are getting outside to enjoy it.

We’ve got a lot of beaches in the Wilmington area: Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Topsail Island, Holden Beach, Kure Beach.  The beaches are great, but between the influx of tourists and everyone trading their winter jackets (because we don’t often need coats around here) and pants for bathing suits, temptation flares up and we see a big increase in infidelity investigations.

If you suspect your spouse of having an affair, contact us.  We’ve got years of experience in helping people get the answers they need.  We know it’s not easy to talk to a stranger about something so personal, but we’ll do our best to make you feel comfortable, help you through the tough times and point you in the right direction depending on the decisions you make with whatever evidence we get for you.

So while spring and summer are great times of year to be living in southeastern North Carolina, if your gut tells you that something isn’t right in your relationship, come talk to us, because peace of mind is priceless.

Valentine’s Day Infidelity

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Picture from vibe.com

According to an article I read recently, Valentine’s Day is the Black Friday of the private investigative industry.  It’s the time of year that can kickstart business or create a good chunk of yearly income.  Even investigators who don’t do domestic cases say they notice a bump in inquiries.

In our experience, Valentine’s Day itself is not usually busy, but the aftermath of it is.  We see a similar correlation with Christmas.  Why is that?  It’s because that’s the time when credit card statements come in.  If a wife sees a charge for Victoria’s Secret but didn’t receive a Christmas or Valentine’s Day gift from the lingerie store, she becomes suspicious, and suspicious spending habits are one sign of infidelity.  Here are some others:

  • Change in Affection – A cheating spouse often becomes more affectionate towards their spouse, usually in an attempt to cover it up or out of guilt, or they become less affectionate out of disinterest.
  • Secretive Communication – A cheating spouse will often hide their phone, delete call logs and texts or leave the room to have conversations.  They also might try to hide the screen of their computer or laptop or act suspicious while checking email.
  • A New Look – A cheating spouse may make more of an effort to look nice or get in better shape in order to please the person with whom they are cheating.  They may dress better or pay more attention to the style of undergarments they wear.

While none of these behaviors is definitive proof of infidelity, they are all signs to watch out for. If you find your spouse acting differently and doing one or more of the behaviors listed above, it might be time to contact a professional, licensed private investigator. Call Cape Fear Investigative at (910) 762-4374 to discuss your suspicions and we’ll come up with a way to deliver peace of mind, because peace of mind is priceless.

Tips for a Successful Divorce Case with a Cheating Spouse

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

When you want to find the best help for your divorce case, you want to be sure that you are going about getting this help in the right way. You will want to get help with the case before you even know for sure if your partner is cheating or if the divorce is actually going to happen. Here we will talk about why this is and how to do it successfully.

Cheating Partners: Things to Look For

No one knows your partner/spouse better than you do. If you suspect that your partner/spouse is cheating DO NOT TELL THEM. Listen to that “gut feeling” and start paying special attention to what, where and why. Where are they going? Is it for work?  Is it normal for them to go there? Why are they going there? Is this a normal excuse? What is it that they tell you they have to leave and go do? Is this a normal thing they do for work and is this the normal time they usually go and do it?  Did your spouse usually have their cell phone just lying around just like yours, but now you don’t see it lying around anymore? Is it always close by them now? Does it have a lock on it now? Some of these are just little things that you might see, but have never really thought about before. The most important thing to pay attention to is that “gut feeling” and call the professionals at Cape Fear Investigative Services, Inc. to get you what you need.

Cheating Partners: Getting Evidence

Getting your evidence can extremely difficult if you try to do it on your own. You will want an impartial witness for you to conduct the surveillance to get you what you need to prove your case. Hiring a private investigative company to do this is relatively easy as there are many companies all over the US. Here in Wilmington, NC alone there are approximately 35 different PI companies. Cape Fear Investigative Services, Inc. is one of the largest and most experienced. We know what works and will get the surveillance done for you.

Finding Lawyers for Divorce Cases

In North Carolina you don’t have to get video of a sex act to prove infidelity. You should meet with a family law attorney and find out exactly what you can and cannot do if you suspect infidelity and find out what your rights are.  Once you have proof that your partner/spouse is cheating, the attorney you chose will consult with you on your best course of action.  Cape Fear Investigative Services, Inc. is experienced in infidelity cases and can point you in the direction to finding the attorney that is right for your case.

Remember, we at Cape Fear Investigative Services, Inc. are committed to the success of our cases and we strive for excellence in every case we do. No case is the same and we always think “outside the box” to come up with a game plan for our clients.

Tell Tale Signs of A Cheating Spouse

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The following is a guide to help you determine if your mate is cheating on you. After reading this list you may find there is some area of concern. Do not confront the cheater. This will only cause them to clean up their act and make it more difficult for you to catch them. You may not have enough proof to make your case.

During the holidays your mate may become more irritable if pressure from the person he/she is seeing may intensify. If the other person is also married, your spouse may be more attentive as the chances are slim contact will be attempted.  Be alert and follow your gut without confronting your mate. Remember, if you confront your spouse, they may stop seeing the other person long enough for you to trust them again.  More times than not, the affair does not end or another one starts up.

Make sure you monitor the bank accounts and charge cards and document any suspicious activity during and after the holidays as there may be two of the same gifts bought or charges from a store you did not receive gifts from.  Be sure to check statements through April as many have deferments on purchases!

  • At the beginning of an affair the mate that is cheating is more attentive to his spouse. This is due to guilt that the cheater may be feeling at the time.
  • After the affair has been going on for a while the person cheating seems to find fault with the person he/she may be living with to try to justify the affair in their mind.
  • Cheating spouses may lose attention in the activities in the home. They don’t show interest in the livelihood of you or the children that live in the home. Nor do they have any desires to do any fix-ups to the home (i.e. lawn care, house repairs, etc…..)
  • Intuition (gut feeling) that something is not right usually is a sign you may have a cheating problem “when in doubt check them out”.
  • Cheaters may have a change in sex life (i.e. more sex, less sex) as well as unexplained sexual requests.
  • The cheater has a definite change in attitude towards everyone in the home, especially the mate (i.e. if he/she didn’t act the way they do, well then maybe I wouldn’t be doing the things I do).
  • Another sign is the Finances. “If someone wants to play they have to pay” therefore keeping an eye on their monies (i.e. check stubs, bank account balances, credit card bills, etc…) would tell you whether their spending more money than usual. Check for any mail from banks you are not familiar with, often times there are additional bank accounts and credit cards you are unaware of.
  • Grooming habits will change. Cheaters will be more attentive to their person (i.e., the way they dress, new clothing or under garments, frequent bathing, physical fitness, grooming of their hair, switching of colognes, etc…).
  • Physical signs to look for to determine whether or not someone is having an affair is lipstick on the collar, odors of cologne/perfume on a shirt/blouse, checking underwear for secretion stains. You can also check their wallets and/or the glove compartments of their car to see if they left receipts, pieces of paper with phone numbers, addresses, condoms, etc. If you find something, start a file, do not confront your spouse.
  • You may want to monitor your spouse for two weeks. During this time keep track of the mileage on their car. Monitor the time they leave for work and the time they come home. Keep a calendar and note the times, this should help you establish a pattern. If your mate claims to be working late, check paycheck stubs to verify this overtime or credit card statements for any dining on late nights.  Also check for any ATM activity and check the locations and times on the receipt.
  • Be tuned in to home telephone calls when your mate has a tendency to whisper or gives a quick answer and immediately hangs up or when you answer the telephone and get an abrupt hang up.
  • Many cheaters use cellular telephones to communicate with their lovers. Should your mate have a cellular telephone you may want to get a detailed billing of the calls made from the cellular phone to determine whether a certain number has been frequently called. A good area to start looking is for the first number called when your mate first leaves for work and the same number called again right before they return home.
  • Female cheaters are more discreet in the selection of a lover. This is most likely because of their concern of Sexually Transmitted Disease’s (STD’s). Most females are looking for a longer lasting relationship rather than a “one night stand”. In past years men were the aggressors, in society today, with the increase of women in the work force, women have become equally aggressive and some do look for “Just a Friend” as they will call him.
  • When a female is having an affair she tends to have more of a “glow” about her. She may also become easily irritated with her spouse and children a lot more than usual. She may take walks or exercise when she did not before and always has her cell phone on her person talking on the walks or runs.  She may have to make trips to the store alone more to talk privately when she did not do this before.
  • If in the work field, work will all of a sudden become more important and will have to work more often and stay out late nights or over night trips may happen more frequently.

If you suspect your spouse or mate is cheating, you will need proof.  Don’t try to be your own investigator!  Do not follow them. When you have some evidence, keep a journal, take photos of receipts and document anything out of the norm. Then hire a PI to obtain the physical evidence to take to your attorney.  There has to be more evidence than what you have or just a dinner out.  This often requires investigative techniques that you are not licensed to accomplish.  Video must be obtained over a period of time to determine if there is an affair taking place.  The identity of the other person must be positively established to determine if there are grounds for Alienation of Affection.

In any situation involving domestic matters-keep your children safe.

Contact Cape Fear Investigative Services at  910-762-4374.

It could wind up being the best investment you ever make.

Separation and Divorce

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Sometimes marriages do not work out as planned. When this happens, couples separate and later divorce. The purpose of this blog is to explain the law of separation by answering frequently asked questions on those matters.

Each case that Cape Fear Investigative Services handles is treated on an individual basis and the methods of investigations vary. When calling for an appointment you will be assigned to an investigator that will work your case in a ethical and professional manner while abiding by all state and local laws.  The investigator will consult with you for the first hour at no charge to learn the facts about your case and then determine the best actions and cost. Call 910-762-4374 to speak with an investigator.


Do I file for separation?

No. Separation happens once husband and wife begin living separate and apart and at least one of them has the intent to remain separate and apart.

Do I need an agreement or court order to be legally separated?

No. You are legally separated once you begin living separate and apart and at least one spouse intends to remain that way.

Is it okay if we continue living in the same house?

No. Living separate and apart means you must be living in separate residences.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There are only two grounds for divorce: 1) Separation for one year; and 2) Incurable insanity of one spouse and separation for three years. The vast majority of marriages are dissolved based on the ground of separation for one year. In order to get divorced, you must have been separated for one year with the intent to remain separate and apart and one of you must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months. Fault is irrelevant to the divorce process.

What do I need to do to get divorced?

You have to file a complaint (lawsuit) asking for a divorce. You have to serve your spouse with the complaint. Cape Fear Investigative Services will serve the complaint either by your request or that of your attorney.  Then you will need a hearing in front of a judge. The judge has to enter a judgment declaring you divorced. You are not divorced until the judge signs a judgment and the clerk file stamps it.

Does it matter who files for the divorce?

No. The person who files for the divorce is responsible for filing the appropriate papers and getting the hearing scheduled. However, there is no advantage to filing first.

How long does the divorce process take?

The length of the process varies based on how long it takes to get service of your spouse and how soon the clerk schedules the divorce hearing. Generally it should take less than 60 days.

What is the effect of a divorce?

There are many important effects of a divorce. First, the entry of a divorce cuts off your right to alimony and property division. If those claims have not been resolved in a valid and binding agreement or property filed with the court prior to the entry of the divorce judgment, they are lost forever. The loss of those claims can be devastating.  If you have a claim for alimony or if you or your spouse acquired property during the marriage (house, cars, bank accounts, retirement), you need to consult an attorney to protect these claims. Cape Fear Investigative Services offers financial investigations to uncover any hidden assets or properties that may have been purchased without you being aware of any transactions at all.   Second, the entry of a divorce changes your tax filing status. Third, the entry of a divorce enables you to remarry. Fourth, the entry of a divorce cuts off your rights to inherit from your spouse. Fifth, it can alter the way your house is owned if you own a house with your spouse.

How do I change my name back?

You may include a request to change your name in the divorce complaint. The name change can be included in the divorce judgment. You cannot change your name to any name in this process. You may resume your maiden name. You may also resume a former married name in certain circumstances.

What about custody, child support, alimony, and property division?

These issues are complicated and beyond the scope of this blog. You may resolve these issues by agreement with your spouse, in which case you would execute a Separation Agreement. In order to be valid and binding, a separation agreement needs to follow certain formalities. You should consult an attorney for assistance in negotiating and drafting the agreement. If you and your spouse are not able to agree, you can try mediation or arbitration as alternatives to court. If those options do not work for you, you will have to file a complaint (lawsuit) seeking relief in court. Regardless of which approach you choose, you should consult an attorney first.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is when a third party helps facilitate an agreement between the parties. The mediator does not make decisions. The parties make the decisions, but the mediator helps them along. You can do private mediation before or after a complaint has been filed. You can address custody, child support, alimony, and property issues in mediation. Mediation is generally less expensive and not as time-consuming as court. The parties control the outcome. The entire process can be settled in one day, and you can leave a private mediation with a binding settlement document. The process is very civil and dignified. It can set the tone for how the parties deal with each other from that point forward. If the parties are able to resolve the issues incident to their separation at mediation, typically they work together and treat each other better in subsequent dealings with children or otherwise. You do not necessarily need a lawyer for mediation, but we recommend it. A non-lawyer mediator will not know the law. Without an attorney you could lose or waive rights you did not know you had.

How do I find an attorney?

You may contact Cape Fear Investigative Services, Inc.  at 910-762-4374. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should contact the Legal Aid of North Carolina office serving your county.

Information was provided by the North Carolina Bar Association. Cape Fear Investigative Services, Inc offers investigative service in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Spousal Spying: Watch Out If You Are Watching Your Spouse

Monday, May 24th, 2010

From Rice Family Law

Introduction to Spying

When it comes to spying on one’s spouse, be careful what you wish for – not only may it destroy your marriage, you may expose yourself to criminal and civil liability.

If you must spy on your spouse, educate yourself on the laws of your jurisdiction and the federal laws on the topic; knowing when you are under the purview of the state, federal, or even common law is extremely important as it vastly affects how and to what extent you may spy on your spouse. The safest course of action is to seek legal advice from a licensed attorney before you spy. And hire a licensed and respected private investigator instead of conducting your own surveillance.

The law treats government spying and individual spying differently .

There are differences in the law’s treatment of surveillance based on who is doing it. Generally, the law is more restrictive regarding government/ law enforcement spying than then it is when private individuals are doing the surveillance and even less restrictive for parents monitoring their minor children. However, many boundaries still exist regarding private individuals, and some spying could leave individuals open to being sued civilly or charged criminally in some circumstances.

Criminally, several charges could be levied against someone for spying on another person, including, trespassing or federal wiretapping charges. These are serious crimes and one could face imprisonment and be required to make financial restitution. Tortious Invasion of Privacy and other Civil liability could apply.

Tortious Invasion of Privacy by Intrusion

North Carolina recognizes an action based on an invasion of privacy by intrusion. Invasion of privacy by intrusion is defined as “One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.” North Carolina does not recognize a cause of action for the invasion of privacy by disclosure of private facts or invasion of privacy by placing a plaintiff in a false light before the public.

Specific examples of intrusion include “physically invading a person’s home or other private place, eavesdropping by wiretapping or microphones, peering through windows, persistent telephoning, unauthorized prying into a bank account, and opening personal mail of another.”

In other words, certain areas may be off-limits to even a spouse. For instance, a video camera installed in a bathroom may be tortious as a reasonable person would likely find it “highly offensive” even in the context of a marriage. No cameras or audio recorders should be employed in a toilet area, shower area, or bedroom area of a spouse.

Interception of oral communications and electronic communications

In North Carolina N.C. Gen Stat. § 15A-287(1)(a) states:

1.Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Article, a person is guilty of a Class H felony if, without the consent of at least one party to the communication, the person:

1.Willfully intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication.

2.Willfully uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other person to use or endeavor to use any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when:

1.The device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communications; or

2.The device transmits communications by radio, or interferes with the transmission of such communications.

3.Willfully discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through violation of this Article; or

4.Willfully uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire or oral communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire or oral communication in violation of this Article.

Consent by at least one party to a conversation is required before recording a conversation between people. In North Carolina, if you are a party to the conversation, you may consent to your conversation being recorded but you cannot record a conversation to which you are not a participant. Therefore, you cannot legally record a call between your spouse and another person without at least one of them consenting to the recording – even if the conversation is between your spouse and your child. If one person is in another state and not in North Carolina, it may be illegal to record the conversation. Many jurisdictions, including North Carolina, have recognized that parents may vicariously consent on behalf of their minor children to the interception of their conversations. A custodial parent may vicariously consent to the recording of a minor child’s conversations, as long as the parent has a good faith, objectively reasonable belief that the interception of the conversations are necessary and in the best interest of the child. The doctrine of vicarious consent has been applied to parental eavesdropping on conversations between the other parent and their minor children and third parties such as a babysitter or nanny. You must use extreme caution before taping any conversation and we strongly recommend you speak with a licensed attorney to fully understand your rights and responsibilities.

Silent covert video surveillance

Only oral communications are covered by N.C. Gen Stat. § 15A-287(1)(a), and thus, videotaping of a spouse without an audio recording would not be a violation of state and federal wiretapping laws.
Video surveillance by private parties, does not implicate the Federal Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. In, State v. Diaz, 308 N.J. Super. 504, 706 A.2d 264 (App. Div. 1998), it was held that the actions of a child’s parents in contracting with a private company to install audio-video surveillance equipment in their home, for the purpose of observing a babysitter who they suspected of abusing the child, did not implicate the federal or state constitutions, because the allegedly unlawful videotaping was performed by private individuals and not by the government or its agents and the parents vicariously consented to the audio capture on behalf of their child. The denial of the babysitter’s motion to suppress the videotape from evidence, at her trial for aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child, was affirmed.

The acquisition of an image is not an interception of a wire or oral communication because the contents of a conversation are not captured. Video surveillance is not the interception of an electronic communication because there has been no interception of the image while it is being transmitted. The audio portion of a videotape is an oral communication and would be subject to the rules discussed above.

However, remember the rules stated above regarding tortious invasion of privacy. Placing a video camera in a private place like the bedroom or the bathroom could still expose you to civil liability.

GPS tracking of a private vehicle

Electronic tracking devices do not “intercept” contents of any wire or aural communication and because the vehicle is traveling on public roads in view of everyone who passes, there is likely no intrusion upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns and it also likely not to be offensive to a reasonable person. If the vehicle is titled in your name and it has not been sequestered by contract or court order in favor of your spouse, there appears to be little concern over placing a GPS tracker on the vehicle. Placing such a device on a vehicle that you do not have an ownership interest in, however, could be a trespass to chattels and you could be liable in tort for financial damages. Always consult a licensed attorney before taking any action.

Email / Internet

If you are still living with your spouse and you are not separated, then when considering other forms of communications such as email communications and the like, the key is: whether your spouse has an expectation of privacy that could be invaded. Even if your spouse previously gave you their email password or computer password, they may still have an expectation of privacy and violation of that privacy could open you up to criminal and/or civil penalties. Ask yourself; for what purpose did my spouse give me his or her password? Do not exceed the scope of that purpose. The use of certain programs like spyware, keystroke recorders may be permissible or illegal depending on the technology employed by the software and whether you continue to live with your spouse.

Once separated, access to your spouse’s email without permission is likely a violation of federal and state wiretapping laws even if you had permission prior to the separation.

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember is that any surveillance must be legal, reasonable, and not overly intrusive. The status of the parties (e.g., separated or not, minor child or spouse) and the facts surrounding the type of surveillance will affect the legality and permissibility of it. Criminal penalties including jail time and civil financial penalties may be assessed for illegal and improper activities. Some surveillance may be legally conducted by a licensed private investigator for which an unlicensed individual could face sanctions. This area is fraught with such significant and serious risk both financially and to your very liberty, that you absolutely must develop a plan with your attorney before taking any action.

Author’s Note: This article is in no way meant to be a comprehensive analysis of privacy law or surveillance of a spouse. The Purpose of this article is to impress on the non-lawyer who may read it, the importance of considering all aspects and consequences of their actions and to outline generally some commonly unknown consequences of such for those who may be unaware. The reader interested in learning more should contact their attorney or perform additional research as more than anything this article should promote the commencement of a thorough discussion of these matters.

Child Custody/Visitation and Child Support

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

This blog seeks to explain North Carolina laws on child custody, child visitation rights, and child support by answering frequently asked questions about these maters.

Who is entitled to custody?

In order for the court to grant custody, the court must find that the custodian is a fit and proper person to have custody and that custody with that person is in the best interests if the children. There is not a presumption favoring mothers or fathers. All other things being equal, mothers and fathers have equal rights to the custody of their children. There is a presumption favoring natural parents over third parties, such as grandparents, aunts and neighbors. Natural parents have protected rights to parent their own children. However, natural parents can lose those protected rights if they take action that is inconsistent with the best interests of the children.

What is sole custody?

Sole custody means that one person has primary physical custody of a child and decision making power over that child.

What is joint custody?

Joint custody means shared custody. It does not necessarily mean equally shared physical custody. When parents have joint custody, they share in major decisions about a child, and typically each parent has the child more than every other weekend. For joint custody to be successful, the parents need to be able to communicate effectively and to cooperate in parenting their child together.

How is custody determined?

Custody may be agreed upon by the parties. If it is, the parties may set out the terms of their custody agreement in a separation agreement or a parenting agreement. These agreements are usually not filed with the court. If the parents are unable to agree on their own, they can try mediation or arbitration. If they do not wish to try mediation or arbitration, they can go to court and let a judge decide.

What are visitation rights?

If one parent has custody, the other has the right to have visitation with their child. There are no general rules about when and how much visitation the noncustodial parent should get. That depends on various factors including the ages of the children, the children’s schedules, how far apart the parents live, and the work schedules of the parents. When determining a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent, the parties (or the court) should consider weekdays, weekends, holidays, and summer. As with custody, the partied may agree on visitation in an agreement. If they cannot agree, they can try mediation or arbitration. If they do not wish to try mediation or arbitration, they can go to court and let a judge decide.

What is the court procedure in custody/ visitation cases?

One of the parties begins the process by filing a complaint (lawsuit) for custody or visitation. The parties generally must attend mandatory court mediation before a trial will be scheduled. In some jurisdictions, the parties must also attend parent education classes. In extreme cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the children or a mental health professional to perform a psychological evaluation of the parties and or the children. At a trial, the court will hear evidence and will decide what custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interests of the children.

What is mediation?

Mediation is when a neutral third party helps facilitate an agreement between the parties. The mediator does not make decisions. The parties make the decisions, but the mediator helps them. You can do private mediation before or after a complaint has been filed. In addition to resolving custody issues, you can address all support and property issues in a private mediation. Mediation is generally less expensive and not as time consuming as court. The parties control the outcome. The entire process can be settled in one day, and you can leave a private mediation with a binding settlement document. The process is very civil and dignified. It can set the tone for how the parties deal with each other from that point forward. If the parties are able to resolve the issues related to their separation at mediation, typically they work together and treat each other better in subsequent dealings with children or otherwise. You do not necessarily need a lawyer for mediation, but we recommend it. A non-lawyer mediator will not know the law. Without an attorney, you could lose or waive rights you did not know you had.

Is custody ever permanent?

No. Custody and visitation arrangements are always subject to change when circumstances affecting the child’s best interests change substantially.

Can the child decide?

No. The court may consider the wishes of older children, but the court will not let the children decide custody or visitation issues.

How is child support determined?

If the parties’ combined income is less than $240,000.00 per year, child support is determined based on the North Carolina child support guidelines. There are generally four numbers that are needed to calculate child support: 1) Mother’s gross monthly income; 2) Father’s gross monthly income; 3) Children’s portion of the monthly health insurance premium; 4) Work-related childcare costs. If either parent has other children in the home or for which he or she pays child support, those numbers are included in the calculation as well. There are different worksheets used in the calculation depending on the custodial arrangement. The guidelines and the worksheets are available at the clerk of court.

When does child support terminate?

Child support terminates when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. If the child turns 18 before graduation, child support continues until graduation. If the child graduates before turning 18, child support continues until the child turns 18. Child support may terminate earlier or extend later but only in certain rare circumstances.

What happens if I don’t pay?

You can be held in contempt or prosecuted for failure to support. You can be put in jail. Your driver’s license and other licenses can be suspended. Your tax refunds can be intercepted. The courts have a host of options to enforce child support orders.

Can child support be changed?

Yes. Either parent may seek a change (increase or decrease) in child support at any time if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred after the order was entered by the court. A substantial change in circumstances is presumed by the court if the request to change the support order is made three or more years after the entry of the order and there is a 15% differential between the amount of support being paid and the amount of support that would be required with new calculations under the guidelines.

Women and Midlife

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

When does midlife begin?

Women like men can’t tell if they’ve entered a midlife transition by counting the number of candles on a cake. Reaching a certain age that ends in zero is not as accurate a predictor of transition as experiencing your first jolt of awareness that time is passing. If you’ve purchased your first pair of reading glasses, plucked a dark chin hair, launched your child into adulthood, or witnessed your parents’ health decline, you’ve already received your wake-up call.

While forty typically represents the beginning of midlife, stressful life events – death of a parent or family member, divorce, loss of job, career change, significant personal illness, or early onset of menopause – may initiate the transition process in some cases as early as mid- to late-thirties. On the other hand, they may be in their fifties and believe they’ve successfully avoided the process completely simply because they’ve failed to recognize what’s happened.

Midlife may be denied, but not escaped. It’s a biological inevitability to grow and enter the next stage of development. Like adolescence, midlife transition is a period of getting a sense of who they are and establishing their identity. Just as adolescence transforms a child to an adult, midlife transforms the person they think they are to the person they believe were meant to be.

Frequently, a midlife crisis is brought on by their internal feelings of discontentment. It’s a reaction to the fear of losing youth – their “last chance” for happiness. They wake up one morning with a profound feeling of emptiness inside, haunted by a vague sense that something is missing in their lives. Suddenly they’re bored with what used to interest them and dissatisfied by their present relationships or in their chosen roles in life. It’s not uncommon for them to feel depressed, lost and confused. Just knowing that this is normal can help you stay sane.

Transition, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a passage from one stage to another, whether gradual or abrupt.” Transition by its very nature involves change, and change can be difficult. Change, even by choice, turns the familiar into the unfamiliar, resulting in feelings of fear and inadequacy as they enter unknown territory.

For many women, the transition to midlife is a period of confusion and uncertainty. About the time they think their development is coming to an end, they find themselves embarking on a totally unexpected journey of growth and change. Although a normal part of maturing, midlife represents distinctive adjustments for women:

  • Losing their sense of purpose – feeling perplexed about the meaning of their life
  • Shifting parental responsibilities as children are launched or need less attention
  • Awareness that their beginning to show signs of aging
  • Concern about approaching menopause and how it will affect their life
  • Behaving completely out-of-character – feeling like a stranger to themselves
  • Bewilderment over a “crush” they’ve developed on someone not even their type even though their married or in a longtime relationship
  • Neglected talents demanding to be expressed – dreams and desires reemerging
  • Boredom with activities that previously held great interest and dominated your life
  • Caring for aging parents – discovering the roles are suddenly reversed
  • Biological clock ticking – wondering if it’s too late to start a family
  • Questioning the accuracy of assumptions made years ago about God and faith

Embracing life requires the courage to face fears, change habits that perpetuate the lives they have, and acknowledge the dreams they’ve kept suppressed. You probably know several women who have taken considerable risks in order to lead more authentic lives: perhaps someone who turned down a promotion to have more time with her family, forfeited a steady income to launch a new business, started a family after forty, earned a college degree in midlife, or took early retirement in order to volunteer full-time.

At forty, they may be a grandmother or may have just had their first child. If they are in their twenties and thirties were spent raising a family or developing a career – or maybe struggling to manage both – they suddenly discover that they’re longing to do all the things they had to postpone for the sake of their children or work.

But like some men, some women cannot control their urge to change, and this change sometimes is extremely hurtful to her present family, husband or longtime companion. Women like men, sometime look to someone else for understanding and this leads to a relationship that the women believes is what she has been missing. In her mind, this has happen to help her find herself.

The “His and Her” midlife crisis was put together to help anyone who needs a little help understanding what a midlife crisis is. It’s very different in men and women but for all men it’s almost always the same signs as it is for most all women. I researched this information from different sources on the internet and found this to be very informative. God Bless and I hope this helps!

His Midlife Crisis

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

By Pat Gaudette
www.midlifeclub.com

You are in a committed relationship, married or involved on an exclusive basis. You thought everything was glorious. Or, at least as glorious as it gets-all relationships have some rough spots.

It seems that you are always fighting. Or he just doesn’t act like himself anymore. He doesn’t like his job. He wants to sell the house and get a little place in the mountains or a sailboat and sail to the islands. You’re too fat or too thin or too short or too tall. He doesn’t like being home. He wants a sportier car. He changes his hair style, starts a diet and joins the local gym. He says his clothes are too old for him. He says you and he have grown apart. He needs time to think about ‘things.’ He wants space. He wants something but he doesn’t know what. He wants a divorce.

If he’s between the ages of 40 and 60 (give or take a few years), your man is blazing a trail through male midlife – he’s having a crisis.

We’re not talking about the man who has always been a womanizer, a schemer or generally not the nicest person in the world. We are talking about the man who has up to this point assumed responsibility and been the person you could depend upon in time of need.

What you must keep in mind is that he really doesn’t understand what he’s doing; he isn’t deliberately hurting you he just knows that something is wrong in his life and he’s searching for the answers.

Of course you’re sitting there saying, “Whoa! I’m supposed to just be quiet and tolerate his forays into other-woman-land and let’s-junk-it-all-and-sail-around-the-world-land or ditch-the-station-wagon-I-need-a-red-sports-car-land?” Well, yes. Of course you do have options here. You can rage and make demands that he clean up his act. And probably shortly thereafter you’ll find yourself in divorce-land.

You see, men don’t plan on turning unpredictable. It happens when they look in the mirror or in the eyes of their grandchildren and see themselves as old men. They have, up to this point, believed they were 25-year-old boys. One mid-50’s midlife graduate says it made him a better person. He remains with his original wife and their relationship has been redefined to better meet his needs. He has his space and a home in the country that allows him to “entertain” when he feels the need and she has her space and their home in the city that allows her a place to pound on the walls and scream when she feels the urge. Another mid-50’s graduate traded the pressures of family, home and business to drive a camper cross country supporting himself by doing odd jobs. The wife of a mid-60’s executive still waits for a long term affair with his much younger mistress to end but with each passing year she cares less and her community involvement grows.

Male midlife crisis devours relationships. It may be devouring yours. What you must understand and believe is that no matter what you do, or don’t do, the outcome will be the same. You do not have control over him, only yourself.

He might not be alone on this search, but you probably weren’t invited, and you probably wouldn’t have been regardless of the circumstances. You may be part of the problem as he sees it. You don’t understand how could you? He may have met someone else who seems to understand him perfectly, or reaffirms his youthfulness (as with the mid-60’s executive, above). But how could anyone understand him when he doesn’t understand himself? He’s in an emotional storm that will test the patience and endurance of all those who love him as he comes to grips with the fact that he is no longer 25. He will hurt you. He doesn’t mean to hurt you, but he will hurt you.

It’s a punch right between the eyes when he suddenly realizes that he is getting older. There’s so much he hasn’t done. Time is running out. He can’t keep up this stress of being husband, father, and breadwinner! He’s getting older – his hair is thinning, his waist is thickening, his muscles are flabby, his face is wrinkling, he has a t-shirt with little hand prints and ‘we love you, gramps’ in childish scrawl. He is feeling emotions he’s never felt before. And occasionally he is impotent. It’s just too much!! He can’t handle it! He doesn’t want to be an old man!! Sometimes referred to as ‘male menopause,’ male midlife crisis is not nice for any of the players involved. It is difficult to say who hurts more, him or you.

Should you try to wait for this crisis to end, for your lives to return to where they used to be? It might take the patience of Job and the result may still not be the one you want. He will do what he must do when he must do it. Once he has made his passage he will not be the same. He is at a major turning point in his life, a normal part of the male maturing process that, should he be successful in navigating through the storms, will help him lead a fuller and more satisfying life, accepting the normal limitations inherent with the aging process.

Some men aren’t successful in the passage. Suicide rates increase for men as they age. Suicide offers the promise of release from seemingly unbearable emotional pain. Women know how to express their emotions, whereas men are taught to hold their emotions back, to ‘act like a man!’ For some, suicide is the only way to suppress the emotional pain associated with the midlife passage.

You need to be aware of what’s happening to your man. Being aware will make you less apt to blame yourself for the things going wrong. He will be blaming you as it is, because he knows he’s not at fault.

There’s not much you can do to speed up his passage through this crisis in your lives. He probably doesn’t want to talk about it, at least not to you. He may believe that you’re the whole reason he feels the way he does. It’s not true.

You need to understand that this is his problem, it will have to be his solution-what he’s going through is normal and you are not responsible. You can’t change it or fix it because you didn’t break it.

You will have to step back and let him whirl around in his search to find himself. He has a need to blame someone for the bad feelings he has, for the terrible way he’s acting, for the lousy way he feels. Don’t believe it if he says everything wrong in his life is because of you. And don’t try to explain his feelings to him because you can’t and he won’t listen.

There’s no doubt men and women are quite different in how they handle emotional situations and midlife is one of the most notable examples.

As a female, you have been trained to take care of other people, to be responsible for their well-being, to make things run smoothly. You have been taught when relationships don’t go well it is your responsibility to correct the situation. You look inside yourself for the answers. In the case of his midlife crisis, you won’t be able to correct the situation-the answers must come from him. You cannot change his behavior, he must. If you think you can change his behavior by changing yourself, you are in for a lot of anger and disappointment. This issue is not about you, it is all about him.

Men are expected to hide their emotions but that doesn’t mean the emotions don’t exist-they’re buried deep in the recesses of how ‘real men’ act. Men and women are from the same planet, no matter how alien the male of the species seems when he’s plowing through his midlife crisis. When you get angry it is okay for you to express that anger but “society” says he must be in control no matter the situation. Because he appears in control of his emotions it is easy to believe that he is unfeeling but even the most grown-up men sometimes have a need to cry. Unfortunately, it’s just not allowed.Society measures the worth and success of a man by how much money he has and makes. If he isn’t making the kind of money he thinks he should, he will be angry at the obstacles he believes are standing in his way. He may believe his family responsibilities are holding him back.He needs more affection now and may reach out to you. If you respond with surprise or rejection because you don’t understand this new behavior, he may find the affection and affirmation of his desirability in the arms of a girlfriend. Nothing personal, you understand, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. And he certainly doesn’t mean to hurt you. During midlife crisis a man will do many things he wouldn’t have done before.He’s scared of dying. His friends may be developing illnesses, some may have already died. He’s afraid. He’s resentful, frustrated and depressed. He feels trapped by his responsibility to provide for his family. He’s locked into a job or career that he no longer enjoys because he must keep the kids in college and make payments on the house and car.

If he’s like most men, he may be in responsibility overload and desperately in need of a break from financial responsibilities and the daily demands of work that he’s probably had since he got out of school. He may resent the fact he cannot make the choices that so many women can as far as choosing whether or not they want to work and at what. He needs a long break from responsibility but he knows that this is impossible. If he stops, he loses everything he has worked so hard for, but, if he doesn’t stop, there is a good chance he will lose it anyway. He’s trapped. How he reacts to this extreme pressure cannot be predicted. Rest assured, though, he will react.

The crisis will not end in a week or two. It may take years to get resolved. You will need patience to let him learn to cope with the new feelings and emotions that are occurring in his life. You cannot do this for him nor can you demand that he seek counseling or talk the problem through with you. You may suggest it but you cannot demand it. It will do no good. It’s important that you understand and accept the fact that it is his problem, not your fault. Don’t take the responsibility for his pain and suffering.

Give him space. No matter how insecure you’re feeling, don’t cling, berate, belittle or try to push him in a direction he doesn’t want to go. If he wants more time than usual to be by himself or with his fishing or golfing buddies, don’t complain about how little time he’s spending with you. He’s trying to think his problems through and he’ll find a way regardless of what you say or do. And remember, midlife crisis is not a chemical thing that someone can just take a pill and make it better or go away. It’s a feeling and those who go through it just don’t know why they are.

Now is the time you must develop yourself as an independent person. You must take responsibility for yourself and your happiness without depending on him for the closeness and intimacy that he probably is unable to give right now. Plan things without him. Depend upon yourself, not him. Allow him to do the same.

Do things by yourself and with friends. Make a life for yourself without waiting for him to participate. He may refuse to go to counseling but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t in order to better cope with your feelings during this difficult time.

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Reaffirm your love for him, your desire for him, and your attraction to him. Tell him and show him that he is the most important person in your life. Do it without smothering, clinging or demanding that he reciprocate the feelings to you.

If you make the decision to demand that he straighten up, to demand that he stop his erratic behavior, to demand that he return to the person you’re most comfortable with, you’ll be making a mistake.

If you make the decision to nag and whine, you’ll be making a mistake.

If you think you can make the choices for him or tell him what he should do to feel better or get his life in order, you’ll be making a mistake.

If you make idle threats about what you will do if he doesn’t change, you’ll be making a mistake.

You are not to blame for the feelings that are guiding his life at this time; however, your actions will help to influence the choices he makes.

As hard as it may be to stand back and watch him self-destruct, that is the role you will have to take. Your number one priority as he whirls through his midlife crisis should be you and your needs. You must protect yourself. Your beliefs will be tested, your faith will be stretched, and your love will be bruised and perhaps torn beyond repair.

Like so many women before you you’ll discover incredible strengths of your own and you will come out of this journey amazed to find that his crisis may have opened a world of amazing opportunities for you – whether or not your relationship remains intact.

Coping with male midlife crisis is not easy. Not every relationship will survive the strain. REMEMBER, midlife crisis is REAL and not something to joke about. It can very hurtful to you and everyone in the family. A Midlife crisis to men and women is inevitable and a lot of sensitive and hard decisions are made during this time. Some relationships just cannot make it through this crisis. Just remember, Midlife crisis cannot be escaped or put off. It’s real and everyone goes through it. People do different things during their crisis. How a man reacts and the decisions he makes is what sets them apart. A man without integrity is not a man.

If you suspect infidelity, protect yourself and your family.