Attorney Michael Fitzpatrick

Traffic & Criminal

Divorce & Family Law

 

 

Ph. (252) 689-6699

Divorce & Family Law

Family Law | Divorce & Separation | Domestic Violence & Protective Orders | Adoption | Grandparents Visitation and Custody Rights | Property Distribution and Equitable Distribution of the Marital Estate | Name Change | Agreements | Mediation and Settlement  

Family Law
The Fitzpatrick Law Firm is aware that contested divorce proceedings, child custody and visitation, child support, domestic violence, marital property disputes (equitable distribution) and other family law issues can be extremely confrontational and at times unpleasant. But when emotions are flying and your children, family and marital estate are at risk you need a family law attorney with trial experience who stays on top of your case and can provide you with comprehensive advice and individual guidance and support! We are here to help and have the experience to guide you and advise you of your rights and options as you work through these challenging moments and changing lifestyles to reach an equitable result for you and your family. Including but not limited to the following areas:

  • Family Law
  • Divorce (Contested and Uncontested)
  • Divorce & Separation
  • Adoptions
  • Child Custody & Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Absolute Divorce (uncontested divorce)
  • Domestic Violence & Protective Orders
  • Divorce from Bed & Board
  • Separation Agreements
  • Spousal Support – Post Separation Support and Alimony
  • Equitable Distribution
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Post Nuptial Agreements
  • Alimony & Post-Separation Support (spousal support)
  • Mediation
  • Name Changes
  • Grandparent Custody and Visitation Rights
  • Paternity
  • Alienation of Affection
  • Criminal Conversation
Divorce & Separation
We can assist with advising you of your rights and options. We can assist with helping you in preparation for separation. It is important to have legal guidance and support when transitioning from one household to two households.  
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: My spouse is not abiding by the Court Order what do I do?
If you have a Court Order currently in place and one party is not abiding by the Court Order, the mechanism by which a Court Order is enforced is done through Contempt procedures in which the court will assess whether the party violated the Court Order and then will enter sanctions such as: fines, imprisonment, specific performance, attorney’s fees, etc. depending upon the Judge’s findings and determinations.
Question: What is the residency requirement in North Carolina to file for divorce?
In most cases, one party must reside in the State of North Carolina for at least six (6) months before you can file for divorce in North Carolina.
Question: My spouse and I signed a separation agreement and my spouse is not abiding by the agreement, what do I do?
A separation agreement that has not become incorporated into a Court decree is a private contract and is enforced the same as any other contract: breach of contract and recovery of monetary damages. The party can also pursue the equitable remedy of specific performance. If the Agreement is not a Court Order it is not enforceable by contempt of court.
Question: I found out my spouse is cheating on me, I want a divorce!
If you determine that your spouse has committed marital misconduct, you are entitled to seek a fault based divorce. Additionally, the State of North Carolina is one of the few states in which you can sue the paramour for breaking up your marriage under the torts of alienation of affection and criminal conversation. There are only approximately seven (7) states that permit these types of lawsuits.
Question: What is Alienation of Affection?
This is a tort that seeks to compensate the spouse for the loss of consortium of the alienated spouse. The general requirements a Plaintiff must prove to succeed are: (1) That there was a marriage with genuine love and affection between the spouses. (2) That the love and affection was alienated and destroyed, and (3) That the Defendant with malice caused the loss of the love and affection between Husband and Wife.
Question: What is Criminal Conversation?
Criminal conversation is a strict-liability tort. This means that if your spouse has engaged in an adulterous relationship with a third party they are guilty of criminal conversation and civil damages are available. There is only one element to prove for criminal conversation: Defendant (third party) and Plaintiff’s spouse engaged in sexual relations without the Plaintiff’s consent. Plaintiff will prevail even if the Defendant argues that they did not know the person was married. Defendant’s lack of knowledge that the spouse was married is not a valid defense.
Uncontested Divorce (Absolute Divorce)
An absolute divorce in North Carolina is also known as an uncontested divorce or a “no-fault” divorce. The bonds of matrimony can be dissolved upon the application of either party after Husband and Wife have been legally separated for a period of one (1) year.   If you have been separated for a period of one (1) year and are looking to file for an absolute divorce, contact The Fitzpatrick Law Firm. We can take care of your divorce for you!
Property Distribution/Equitable Distribution of the Marital Estate
Agreements (Prenuptial, Separation and Property Settlement)
  • A large percentage of divorce cases eventually settle some if not all issues.
  • A separation agreement is a contract that is drawn up when Husband and Wife seek to separate from one other. Such agreement allows the parties to live separate and apart. It also can cover such additional issues as: child custody and visitation, child support, property division, alimony and post separation support terms.
Domestic Violence
  • If you are currently in a relationship or if you were in a prior relationship with someone who commits acts of violence or threatens you with acts of violence towards you or a family member you may file an action for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO). A Domestic Violence Protective Order is a civil action, the abuser will not have a criminal record, unless you also press criminal charges with the state. However, once a protective order is in place an individual can be arrested for violations of the order.
  •  The individual or Plaintiff will file papers indicating the nature of the violence or threats. The papers will be presented to a Judge and if the court finds that it satisfies the burden of domestic violence the Judge will enter an ex parte order (ex parte means only one side was present). The Sherriff will deliver and serve a copy of the ex parte order on the Defendant and may remove firearms from the Defendant’s residence. If Plaintiff and Defendant live together, the Court may order the Defendant to stay away from the residence. Typically if children are involved the court will give the party temporary custody of the children until there is a full hearing to protect the children. The Judge will set a return court date, typically within ten (10) days for a full hearing on whether there was an act of domestic violence that necessitates a protective order restraining the Defendant from committing future acts of domestic violence. A protective order is typically in place for a period of one (1) year and could include such provisions as: removing the Defendant from the residence, requiring Defendant to turn over and not purchase any future firearms, prohibiting contact between the parties, ordering Defendant to attend an anger management program or abuser treatment program. If children are involved the court may order only limited contact with the children, such as supervised visits or may suspend all visits between parent and children for a period of time until the court believes it is in the children’s best interest to resume visitation or custody.Contact our office today to set up your confidential consultation and to learn more about your rights and options!
Divorce from Bed and Board
Divorce from Bed and Board
Separation
Separation
Domestic Violence & Protective Orders
If you are currently in an abusive relationship or if you were in a prior relationship with someone who commits acts of violence or threatens you or a family member you may need to file an action for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO).

A Domestic Violence Protective Order is a civil action not criminal. However, in some cases criminal charges may be taken out in addition to the civil protective order. However, once a protective order is in place an individual can be arrested for violations of the order. The individual or Plaintiff will file a Complaint indicating the nature of the violence or threats that has taken place. The pleadings will be presented to a Judge and if the court finds that it satisfies the burden of domestic violence the Judge will enter an ex parte order (ex parte means only one side was present). The Sherriff will deliver and serve a copy of the ex parte order on the Defendant and may remove firearms from the Defendant’s residence. If Plaintiff and Defendant live together, the Court may order the Defendant to stay away from the residence. The Court can also address temporary custody of the children until there is a full hearing if the Judge feels protection for the children is needed.

The Judge will set a return court date, typically within ten (10) days for a full hearing on whether there was an act of domestic violence that necessitates a protective order that restrains the Defendant from committing future acts of domestic violence.
A protective order is typically in place for a period of one (1) year and could include such provisions as: removing the Defendant from the residence, requiring Defendant to turn over and not purchase any future firearms, prohibiting contact between the parties, ordering Defendant to attend an anger management program or abuser treatment program.

If children are involved the court may order only limited contact with the children, such as supervised visits or may suspend visits between parent and children for a period of time until the court believes it is in the children’s best interest to resume visitation or custody.

It is important to obtain an attorney and get the best legal representation possible because these types of cases can have a lasting impact!

Contact our office today to set up your confidential consultation and to learn more about your rights and options!
Adoption
Adoption is both an exciting but, sometimes anxious process. We can assist with guiding you and completing your Adoption. We assist with the following types of adoptions:  

  • Independent Adoptions
  • Stepparent Adoptions
  • Relative Adoptions
  • Adult Adoptions
  • International Adoptions
  • Inter-state Adoptions
Independent Adoptions
In an independent adoption, the adoptive parents locate a child who is available for adoption either from North Carolina or another state without the assistance of an adoption agency. These are sometimes called private adoptions.
Stepparent Adoptions
– In a stepparent adoption, the spouse of the child’s parent seeks to formalize a parent-child relationship and become a legal parent of the child of his or her spouse.
Relative Adoptions
In relative adoptions, the adoptive parents seek to adopt a child who is related to the adoptive parents, such as a grandchild, niece, or sibling.
Adult Adoptions
In adult adoptions, the adoptive parents request to become parents of an adult. These adoptions are sometimes completed in adulthood because adoption was not an available option during the adoptee’s minority because a biological parent would not consent and whose consent could not be dispensed with.
Grandparent Custody & Visitation Rights
Grandparent’s have rights in the State of North Carolina
Grandparents Visitation and Custody Rights
Grandparents Visitation and Custody Rights
Property Distribution and Equitable Distribution of the Marital Estate
Property Distribution and Equitable Distribution of the Marital Estate
Name Change
Name Change
Adult Name Change
Adult Name Change
Minor Name Change
Minor Name Change
Agreements (Prenuptial Agreements, Separation and Property Settlement Agreements, and Postnuptial Agreements)
A separation agreement is a contract that is drawn up when Husband and Wife seek to separate from one other. Such agreement allows the parties to live separate and apart. It also can cover such additional issues as: child custody and visitation, child support, property division, alimony and post separation support terms
Mediation and Settlement
A large percentage of divorce cases eventually settle.