Why You Need a Plan for your North Carolina Divorce

Plan for your NC Divorce“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 
― Benjamin Franklin

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 
― Abraham Lincoln

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” 
― Warren Buffett

Before you do anything else, make a plan.   Don’t move out.  Don’t approach your spouse about a divorce.  Don’t tell your children you are leaving their mother or father.  Don’t move out of state.   Don’t take all of your money out of savings and put it in a shoe box.   Don’t do any of these things without a plan in place.

How do you get a plan?  Simple.   You meet with a professional who knows knows the law and who cares about your situation, make a plan, and make it happen.



Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over eighteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement.  sallen@allenspence.com    919.863.4183


Advantages of Mediation in Your Raleigh Divorce Case

Raleigh Divorce Lawyer MediationRaleigh Divorce  – When and why should you mediate?

Mediation is a form of “alternative dispute resolution.”  It is a way to resolve cases that was an “alternative” to a trial or hearing.

At one time, not too long ago, this was a new idea in family law cases.  Now, if you file a financial case or custody case in Raleigh at the Wake County Courthouse, mediation is required.

It is a process by which the parties (and their lawyers) meet with a neutral person who assists in settling the differences.  That neutral person is called the mediator.

There are several advantages to mediating your Raleigh divorce case:

  • It creates a framework of communication between the parties.
  • It allows both parties to participate.
  • It provides a private environment.
  • It is a confidential process.
  • It makes the parties invest in the agreement and thus increases the compliance.
  • It is less expensive than litigating.

Choosing Your Mediator

Picking a mediator is the easy part.  Raleigh and Wake County are full of experienced and fair mediators.  In the same way you would pick an attorney who knows family law, find one who is also a family lawyer.  Preferably one who litigates cases.  Why would you want a mediator who also goes to court? Because the mediator has a clear reference of what judges do in various factual scenarios.

Furthermore, you don’t even have to pick a mediator in your custody case because one will be supplied by the Wake County Custody mediation office.

Preparing for Your Raleigh Divorce Mediation

Preparing is important.  If you are going to Raleigh child custody mediation through the county, your attorney will not be at there with you.  However, you should talk to your attorney prior to mediation to prepare.  If you are going to a financial mediation with your lawyer, make sure to prepare in advance and carry along important documents.

What is the biggest downside of this process?  It’s that it can’t force either party to be reasonable.  For mediation to work the way it is supposed to, both parties must engage in the process with an attitude of good faith.

Do you want to learn more about mediation?

You might want to read these articles:

Do you need an attorney or a mediator?

If you need an attorney or a mediator in your case call Scott Allen at (919) 863-4183.


Can a Child Decide Which Parent Gets Custody in NC?

Testimony of a Child in NCI often get asked what impact a child’s wishes has on the court’s determination of custody.  In North Carolina, your child does not get the final say.

The law is that the court may use what a child tells him or her as evidence, but the final say is the judge’s.  North Carolina law does not set out an age when a person may be a witness in court.  The legal test is whether the minor is a competent witness and that means they have to be able and old enough to know what it means to tell the truth and can express them selves in an understandable way.

Unless both parties agree, the child must testify from the witness stand.  This is a very stressful event for the child, the parents, lawyers and judge.  Usually, if a child is going to be brought in, everyone wants the impact on the child to be reduced as much as possible.   Usually there is an agreement that the district court judge will talk to the judge in her office.

Regardless of what a child has to say about their preferences, a judge may decide in favor of the other parent.  This is because sometimes the district court judge with find that what the son or daughter is saying has been “bought” by a parent with promises.   Sometimes, the court might find that the child simply does not know what is best for herself.  For example, the parties’ son might prefer to live with the parent who has fewer rules, more flexibility  with curfews,  or  who does not make them do chores.  The maturity of the minor is a factor for the judge to evaluate.

In conclusion, deciding where the child should live is about what is in the best interest of the child and not about what the child says he or she wants.


Raleigh child custody attrorney Scott Allen handles modification of custody, child custody, and temporary custody hearings and has over seventeen years of experience.  

If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at sallen@allenspence.com.  



Scott Allen Approved as Parent Coordinator


Raleigh, November 24, 2011.

Raleigh divorce lawyer Scott Allen has been approved as a parent coordinator by the chief district court judge of the 10th Judicial District in Wake County.

When asked about his role as a parent coordinator, Mr. Allen explains: “I am excited for the opportunity to help families in this way. A district court judge in North Carolina may appoint a parenting coordinator in certain child custody cases.  If asked to help in a case, my role is to reduce conflict between the parents for the welfare of the children in high conflict child custody cases.”

Mr. Allen further explained that a parent coordinator does not replace the district court judge in the assigned family court case but is only there to help in a difficult child custody case.   The role of the parent coordinator is as defined by the judge in the high conflict custody case and, depending on the case, Mr. Allen says he may be called on to  “identify disputed issues, reduce misunderstandings, explore compromise, clarify priorities, develop methods of collaboration in parenting, and ensure compliance with the court’s custody order. In other words, I will be there to help promote the best interest of the children.”

Under North Carolina law, a high-conflict custody case is one where the district court judge finds that the parties demonstrate an ongoing pattern of excessive litigation, anger and distrust, verbal abuse, physical aggression or threats of physical aggression, communication issues regarding the children or other conditions that the court determines warrant the appointment of a parenting coordinator.  These high-conflict cases are some of the most difficult cases for the courts to deal with because the high level of parental animosity and the impact on the children.

Mr. Allen says he looks forward working with families as a parent coordinator.


Raleigh divorce lawyer Scott Allen is a designated parent coordinator in Wake County.  He also handles modification of custody, child custody, and temporary custody hearings and has over seventeen years of experience.  If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at sallen@allenspence.com.

New Firm Announced: Allen and Spence


Raleigh, November 24, 2011

Attorneys Scott Allen and Amanda Spence announce the formation of a new Raleigh divorce law and elder law firm, Allen & Spence.  The new office is located in The Atrium at 2501 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh.

While Allen & Spence is a new firm, the partners have each practiced law in Wake County for over seventeen years.

Scott Allen is a trusted and experienced litigator, mediator, and appellate lawyer.  He works with individuals and families in matters of child custody, child support, equitable distribution, alimony, divorce, domestic violence, and alienation of affection and criminal conversation cases.

Amanda Spence is an experienced and trusted elder law attorney.  She works with families and individuals in matters related to elder law, trusts, nursing home issues, Medicaid, wills and estates.

Scott Allen and Amanda Spence are both graduates of the University of North Carolina School of Law.  Mr. Allen received his undergraduate degree, with honors, from North Carolina State University and Ms. Spence received her degree, with honors, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

According to Mr. Allen: “The population in the here is getting older and recent U.S. Census data indicates that North Carolina couples marry and divorce at slightly higher rates than people in most other states.  It’s well known that divorce, death, and long-term illness of a family member are among the most stressful events in life. We are caring, experienced attorneys and are able to guide our clients through life’s trying times.”

The Raleigh family law firm of Allen & Spence, located at 3737 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100, in Raleigh, N.C., concentrates on family law and elder law, including divorce, child custody, child support, visitation, alimony, post-separation support, equitable distribution, Medicaid, wills, trusts and estates. Mr. Allen is also a trained mediator and is a parent coordinator.


For more information, contact the firm by calling (919) 863-4183 or visit www.allenspence.com.