Protecting your Interest, Addressing your Needs.
Domestic Law
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Bayboro: 252.745.4646 | New Bern: 252.637.6400
Serving Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico County
Domestic Law Defined
Family Law covers many areas of law. It is emotionally charged and difficult for everyone involved, because it addresses such sensitive issues. Steve Lacy has over 30 years of experience in dealing with these issues, and he knows how to take care of you and your interest. Here are the main Family Law issues that Steve Lacy deals with on a daily basis. Feel free to click on and view free tips and familiarize yourself more with these issues, so you can be better prepared in handling your case.

A Divorce can be a very trying time in an individual’s life. It is not pleasant, and often messy. Having a Lawyer represent you in a divorce will make the entire process easier, and less stressful. An experienced lawyer can reduce your time in court, reduce the time you spend arguing with your spouse, and reduce the emotional toll that a divorce takes on you. It is important to have someone there to represent you and your interest so that you are treated fairly, and don’t give up anything to which you are entitled. Steve Lacy will represent you and your best interest, and ensure that you are not pushed around by your spouse.


In NC spouses have to be separated for one year before they can file for divorce. One party must intend that the separation is permanent, with no possibility to reconcile the marriage at a later time.

Property Distribution and Settlement
North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means all propert will be divided equally, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. Having a Lawyer represent you on a property settlement or distribution case will ensure that the property is divided fairly and you receive what you are entitled to.


Not all property is marital property. This means if the property was acuired before the marriage, a gift, or inheritance then this is your separate property and your spouse is not entitled to receive a portion of it.

Alimony and Spousal Support Claims
Alimony and post-separation support are payments made to a dependent spouse, which can be for any number of years based on the courts discretion. When one spouse is dependent on the higher income earner they may be awarded some sort of support to keep them in the manner they were accustomed to during the marriage. The paperwork involved can be confusing and lengthy, and this type of agreement is usually never a quick and easy one. With the help of a lawyer the process involves little effort on your part. Having an experienced lawyer like Steve Lacy represent you insures that your needs are addressed and that you receive or pay a fair amount. This is usually in the form of a monthly allowance in which the court will consider the following:

Earning capacity
Marital misconduct
Amount of income
Sources of income
Length of marriage


Co-habitation or a “live-in” arrangement, can bar future alimony payments to a dependent spouse.

Separation Agreements
There is no law that requires a written separation agreement between spouses, but oral promises between spouses are unenforceable in court. When things like property, bills, children, and support are involved, this agreement will serve as a vehicle between the husband and wife to iron out the details of the split. If spouses can decide on issues like this before the divorce is final it can reduce court cost, lawyer fees, and other expenses like mediation. It is always better for both parties if they can come to some sort of agreement about how the divorce and separation will be handled before going to court.


Oral promises between you and your spouse are worthless, and should not be trusted. If there is a properly executed written document with the agreement neither party can go back on what they agreed to do and it is enforceable in a court of law.
Never try and execute this document yourself. Both parties must voluntarily agree and it must be notarized by a person authorized to do so by the State of North Carolina.
A lawyer can get a separation agreement incorporated into a divorce judgment, so if it is violated or breached the offending party can be held in contempt of court.

Military Divorce
Military divorces are different from other divorces; we understand that they involve a special type of situation. There are unique requirements for residency, the division of military pensions, and child custody that do not apply to common law marriages. This type of divorce gets more complicated if children are involved, because of relocation issues. You can be sure that Steve Lacy has over 30 years of experience in the field of military divorce. He is familiar with the rules and federal laws that govern military divorces and will be representing you with adequate knowledge. A military spouse can seek free military representation, but remember divorce is a matter of state law not military law, and if your spouse has already consulted with the Joint Law Center, they will not be able to advise you.


The Service Members Civil Relief Act states that if the military personnel is on active duty then they cannot be served with divorce papers, and the proceedings can be delayed for up to 60 days following the active duty.
A divorcee of military personnel is entitled to full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the military member performed at least 20 years of service, and the marriage and the military service overlapped for at least 20 years.
A petition for divorce must be filed with the state court in order for the court to have jurisdiction over military personnel.

Domestic Violence
Escaping a violent relationship can be emotionally and mentally debilitating on many levels. Fear of retaliation against you, your children, or your pets, and clouding of your judgment. Steve Lacy understands what you are going through and he is here to help in any way possible. You have options, and he can help you utilize them to design an individualized plan to keep you and your family safe.

North Carolina Domestic Violence Restraining Order
The most common remedy to protect you and your children from an abusive spouse is to file for a restraining order. This is not an easy process, and requires many steps. Steve Lacy is experienced and able to look out for your best interests in getting you a restraining order quickly and quietly. Here are a few options that you have.
Ex-parte order- this is temporary and you or your child must be in immediate danger. This expires within 10 days of issuance, and should be followed by a court hearing to remain effective.
After a hearing you may obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order which protects you for up to one year.

Take pictures and gather all of the evidence you have of the abuse, so that there is clear proof of the offense.
Call a hotline to get advice to take care your emotional stability. The national hotline is 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
If you need immediate refuge call or go to the Coastal Women’s Shelter; the crisis line is (252)-638-5995.

Mediation resolves disputes between parties without the necessity of a public trial. It reduces financial burdens (lawyer fees, court costs etc.) on both parties and reduces any time that would have been spent in the court room. Steve Lacy can provide you with a safe environment that you can work out any issues, without ever having to step foot in a court room. It is important to have a lawyer represent you in any mediated case because you never know what advantages you could have gained or what things you would have lost without knowing your rights.


Never concede to anything before mediation, let the lawyer do the talking for you. A lawyer ensures that you get the best advantage and a leg up on the other person.

Child Custody
Child custody cases are usually referred to as “battles” by the parties. Both parents are emotionally charged and want to see their child as much as possible. The thing to remember is that the child wants to see both parents as much as possible also, and it is the child’s interests that are the most important. If the parents cannot come to a decision on how a child’s interest should be arranged a judge will. A judge will consider who has the most familiar environment to the child, who can provide the most comfortable lifestyle for the child, the availability of the parents, the childcare in place for the child, the educational and social needs of the child, and if either parent is trying to prevent the other from seeing the child. Having a lawyer like Steve Lacy represent you will ensure that these factors are proven to the judge in an efficient and effective manner, so that you can protect the best interest of your children.


Choose your battles wisely, the less stress and trauma placed your child, the better the outcome will be for your child.
Rather than concentrate on why the other parent is not fit to have custody of your child, concentrate on demonstrating why you are. This will reduce name calling and needless battles in the court room, bad mouthing your spouse is not going to make you look better in the judge’s eyes.
Remember that you are trying to care for your child, not be the child. Retain your position as the adult in the situation, this will reduce friction between you and the judge and also make the transition easier on your child.

Child Support
Both parents have a duty to financially support a child. North Carolina has implemented child support guidelines that are based upon income of both parents, daycare for the child, custodial costs of the child, and healthcare for the child. Child support is awarded to the primary care taker of the child for the expenses of raising the child. A lawyer can represent your financial interest in a child support case. For example in some circumstances a need for a deviation from the compensation guidelines is appropriate. Steve Lacy will review with you your individual situation and discuss if this deviation is appropriate, and any modifications that can be made to the amount of child support in your favor. Having a lawyer represent your interest in a situation like child support ensures that you will not be lost in the court system and you will not be taken advantage of.

Child Visitation
Having visitation with your child ensures a healthy relationship between you and your child that can last a life time. If your rights to see your child have been taken from you, you still have options. Steve Lacy can help you explore these options and make sure that you have the right to see your child, and expand the options you have in seeing your child. Steve Lacy makes sure that the court hears the relevant issues in your case so that they can decide or adjust your visitation in a beneficial way to you and your child.

Modifications to Alimony, Custody, or Support
In North Carolina there must be a substantial change in circumstances to modify a court order. If applicable, you may be able to lower your support, increase the amount received, or terminate payments all together. A consultation in this matter is important because the attorney knows what qualifies and what does not qualify as an adequate substantial change necessary for modification. This will save you and your ex-partner time and money in dragging this through the court just to have them tell you that you are not qualified for a modification.


In alimony and support cases seek an escalator clause in the original agreement so that any increase in the ex-partner’s money will increase in a payment for you.

Steve Lacy handles other forms of family law that are not listed, including but not limited to paternity cases, stepparent/ grandparent rights, and alienation of affection and criminal conversation. For questions please feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation today. The initial consultation on all Family Law concerns is $350 and must be paid before you enter for the consultation.
Attorney At Law
Steven E. Lacy
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