Matthew G. Moore
PARTNER - MOORESVILLE & STATESVILLE
114 Morlake Drive, Suite 203
Mooresville, North Carolina 28117
CHILD CUSTODY & VISITATION
GUARDIANSHIP AND RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE
Matthew Moore was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and attended college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. During his undergraduate work, Matthew served as a member of the UNC Charlotte Pre-Law Society. He graduated on the Chancellor's List, obtained a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology and an Associate's Degree in Spanish. While attending college, Matthew obtained a License from the North Carolina Justice Academy and became the youngest Concealed Carry Instructor in North Carolina. Upon graduation, Matthew attended law school where he served as a member of the Criminal Law Society, Family Law Society and other various organizations.
During his free time, Matthew enjoys teaching concealed carry classes, spending time outdoors, skeet-shooting and boating. Matthew currently resides in Iredell County and Matthew primarily works out of the Mooresville office, but is available to meet with new clients in Mooresvile and Statesville, NC. Matthew is a general practitioner with a focus on family law (including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution) and real estate.
In order to obtain a divorce in North Carolina, a couple must live separate and apart for one year and one party must have resided in North Carolina for six months prior to filing the divorce. Obtaining an actual divorce judgment from the court is generally a relatively simple process. A party can do this pro se (without a lawyer) or hire an attorney to obtain a simple divorce. However, it is quite common for people to refer to the entire process of separation, child custody, post-separation support, alimony and equitable distribution as "divorce". The process to disentangle one's life from another after marriage can be difficult and painful. During marriage, parties often have children, buy homes, make investments both financial and emotional and entwine themselves together in a way that makes the process of "divorce" difficult emotionally and financially. We encourage parties to talk to an attorney about this process to help you in this time. Understanding the process, what is required and what may happen may help ease the stress and fear of the unknown. If you have any questions about obtaining a divorce, please contact a local attorney.
MOTHER, FATHER OR THIRD PARTY?
It varies from case to case. North Carolina Courts make custody determinations using "the best interest of the child" standard and applies that standard to each and every child custody case. In order to determine what is in the best interest of your child, the court may look at a number of factors that are relevant to the child's life. For example, the court may look at the age, physical and mental needs of the child, the mental health of the parents, substance use or abuse issues of the parties, the party's relationship with the child, the party's efforts to raise the child thus far, the work schedule of the parents, stability of the parties, living conditions of the parties and a number of other factors that are unique to each case. If you have any questions or need assistance obtaining custody of your child, please contact a local attorney.
Parents may contract outside of court who will have custody of the child and what the custody schedule will be. If parents cannot decide, custody will be settled in District Court by a District Court Judge. It is noteworthy that most local counties in North Carolina require parties to attend mediation prior to hearing a permanent custody trial. Many parties ask if the child can decide. The short and plain answer is no. While case law suggests a judge can take the child's desires into consideration, it is not required and usually not appropriate absent certain facts that make the child's testimony necessary. It is our recommendation that you talk to a local attorney before calling a child to testify in a child custody case. The effects of court can be traumatic on adults and children. It is important to put the needs of the child ahead of your own in this process.
JOINT CUSTODY VS. SOLE CUSTODY?
Joint physical custody is the actual sharing of the child between the parties. Joint custody does not necessarily mean the parties share 50/50 time with the child, it just means the parties share time with the child in some fashion where both parties have meaningful time with the child.
Sole custody is when a party receives the majority of physical custody time with the child. When parties resolve custody cases by consent, it is important for the document to contain specificity and to define the joint or sole custody arrangement and include provisions that create a clear plan for the parties going forward co-parenting in separate households.
WHAT IS VISITATION?
In some custody arrangements when one party has the majority (potentially "primary custody") of custodial time with the child and the other party has substantially less custodial time, courts, agreements or attorneys may refer to this time as "visitation". Visitation periods may be overnights or only for a few hours. In some cases, when the facts warrant the same, courts may order supervised visits. These visits may be supervised by a friend, family member or at a third-party visitation center. Generally supervised visitation is used in situations when a party is a danger to the child's physical or mental wellbeing. That danger could be due to substance abuse, mental health concerns or overall instability and inability to parent the child safely without supervision.
WHAT IS LEGAL CUSTODY?
It is necessary for parties or courts to determine legal custody of the child at the time of settling custody or as a result of trial on custody. Legal custody relates to making major decisions for the child. These decisions may concern healthcare, education, religion and extra-curricular activities. Parties share joint legal custody when they make these decisions together. Both parties with joint legal custody have equal authority to make these decisions and should exhaust efforts in good faith to make these decisions together after communication about the topic at hand. In some cases, parties share joint legal custody with one party having the final word on certain topics. Sole legal custody is when one party has the sole authority to make these decisions on behalf of the child. Attorneys have creative ways to split some of these duties to allow one party to make decisions regarding certain topics and the other party to make decisions regarding others.
In North Carolina, child support is governed by N.C.G.S. § 50-13.4. Per the statutes, both parents of a child have a duty to support that child. Generally, child support is calculated using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. Child support guidelines are based on a number of factors including respective incomes, number of children, certain healthcare costs of the child, the number of overnights with each parent and a number of other factors that are considered by the calculator. If you have questions regarding child support, contact a local attorney.
In North Carolina, alimony is governed by N.C.G.S. § 50-16.3A. Alimony is the payment of financial support from a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse upon separation. Whether or not a spouse is "supporting" and "dependent" is a question of fact that varies from case by case generally based on a review of income and liabilities. The statute referenced herein lists sixteen 16 factors the court shall consider when determining the amount of alimony and its duration. Those factors include:
(1) The marital misconduct of either of the spouses. Nothing herein shall prevent a court from considering incidents of post date-of-separation marital misconduct as corroborating evidence supporting other evidence that marital misconduct occurred during the marriage and prior to date of separation;
(2) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses;
(3) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses;
(4) The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including, but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others;
(5) The duration of the marriage;
(6) The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child;
(8) The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
(9) The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs;
(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support;
(11) The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(13) The relative needs of the spouses;
(14) The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award;
(15) Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper.
(16) The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties' marital or divisible property.
Unlike child support guidelines, there is no definitive calculator to determine the amount of alimony a judge might award. In Iredell County, when there is a claim for alimony made by either party, the court requires both parties to complete a Financial Affidavit. This affidavit contains each party's respective income and liabilities. The court will consider evidence presented by the parties (testimony, financial documents, tax returns, etc.) and make a determination based on the unique case at hand. If you have questions about whether you are entitled to receive alimony or whether you are responsible for the payment of alimony, please contact a local attorney.