Specific Performance of a Separation Agreement

emergency child custodySpecific Performance is an equitable remedy when there is a breach of  a separation agreement.   The remedy of specific performance is available in an action to enforce a separation agreement when the remedy of breach of contract (which would include damages for the breach) is not adequate    If the judge believes that it is appropriate, the court may order  the defendant to do what the separation agreement requires.   This could include, for example, making alimony payments, transferring property, etc.



Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over nineteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement.  He can be reached at 919.863.4183.

What is Important to You?

What is Important to You?I ask this question all the time of my clients:  “What is important to you?”  After all, it is the client’s situation, the client’s money, and the client’s future wellbeing at stake.

If I don’t know the answer to that single question, I cannot help my client.  Why?  Because if I don’t know what is important to my client, i cannot begin to help them achieve their goals.  Make sure your attorney asks you what is important to you.

  • Do you worry about your financial security?
  • Are you worried about the welfare of your children?
  • Are you worried about maintaining a working relationship with your spouse after the divorce?

These are just examples.  One or more of these things, or other things, might be important to you.   Tell your attorney what is important to you.


Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over eighteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement.


Courtroom Decorum for Your Raleigh Divorce

Although television my have you believe something different, in reality the courtroom is a place of tradition and rules.   The tradition and rules exist to create an environment of solemnity and gravity where important issues can be decided.   Behavior that negatively impacts the solemnity and gravity of the courtroom should be avoided.

Here are some basic rules:

  1. Stand when court is opened, recessed or adjourned for the day.
  2. Stand when addressing or being addressed by the judge.
  3. In Wake County, the deputy sheriff will call the court to order.
  4. Listen to the deputy, he or she will give instructions at the beginning of court and frequently the instructions will be based on the particular judges rules in his or her courtroom.
  5. Don’t wear a hat or ball cap in the courtroom.
  6. Do not approach the judge or a witness without asking for permission of the court.
  7. The space between the bar and the bench is reserved for attorneys and court personnel   Don’t go into that area unless directed by the deputy, the judge, or your attorney.
  8. The witness stand is also called the dock.  Prior to testifying you will be sworn or affirmed by the judge or the clerk either at counsel table or once you are in the dock.
  9. In NC courts, witnesses are normally examined by the attorney from a seated position behind one of the counsel tables.
  10. Counsel or pro se parties should request permission before approaching the judge or a witness.
  11. Cell phones and pagers should be turned off or in a vibrate mode. Computers should be used with audio off.

Use common sense and follow these rules and you will be on your way to making a favorable impression.



Getting Help with Your Wake County Divorce

temporary child support in North CarolinaWake County has a family court system and a set of family court rules.   In addition to the local county rules, there is statutory law and case-law that applies to every family court case in North Carolin.  If you represent yourself you are expected to know all of these rules and laws, as well as the rules of civil procedure and evidence.  This is a daunting obstacle.

There are basically three solutions to the problem:  ignore the rules and law and do the best you can in court, educate yourself as best you can, or hire an attorney.  It should go without saying (but I will, nevertheless,say it):  do not ignore the rules and the law!   Your case will be jeopardized, you may be sanctioned, and you might not be allowed to put on evidence.   If you ignore the rules and the law, bad things will happen.

You can try to educate yourself.  I say “try” because unless you have the ability to push yourself, spend hours reading laws and cases, and learn how to be your own lawyer,  you will likely never be able to pull it off effectively.   Furthermore, when you represent yourself, it will be very difficult for you to be objective since you are, so to speak, in the middle of the storm.

Consult with a lawyer.  It need not be me or my firm, but get professional help.   A healthy portion of my practice is cleaning up legal messes that have been created by parties with good intentions trying to do it themselves.  In most cases, legal help on the front end of the problem would have avoided or reduced the self-inflicted damage.

So, how do you get help with your case?   You pick up the phone and call a lawyer.  You schedule a consultation, and you take your paperwork and issues and concerns in and get advice and direction.   If you go to someone who knows what they are doing, you should get a plan to move forward, an idea of the costs involved  and a menu of options to work towards making your goals a reality.


Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over eighteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement.  Call him at 919.863.4183 to get help with your case.




Representing Yourself in Wake County Family Court: Part 1

Wake Family Court RulesI have seen many people try to represent themselves in Wake County Family Court, most don’t do a very good job at it.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some general guidelines.  I hope they help:

  • You will be expected to know the local rules, the rules of evidence, and the law.  This means you need to educate yourself.  Some attorneys  including me, will agree to provide consulting services at hourly or flat rates to make you better prepared.
  • Most of the statutory law for divorce, custody, alimony, child support, etc. is found in Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes.
  • Evidentiary rules can be complicated.  There are hearsay rules and there are exceptions.  When in doubt have live witnesses in court ready to testify rather than trying to use letters and affidavits.
  • The Wake County Family Court Rules and many helpful forms can be found on the NC AOC website.
  • The Wake County Family Court Calendar is available online.
  • Promptly comply with discovery requests and disclosure requirements.
  • Comply with subpoenas.
  • Is you want a subpoena you will need to get it signed by the clerk or the judge per Rule 45.
  • Be on time for court appearances.
  • Dress appropriately for court.
  • When an objection is made in court wait for the judge to rule and don’t talk over the judge.
  • Stand up when addressing the judge.
  • Ask permission when in doubt about something you want to do in the courtroom (such as approaching the judge or a witness on the witness stand).
  • Make at least three copies of documents you want to try to get into evidence.
  • Treat everyone respectfully even if you don’t particularly like your ex, his/her lawyer, etc.