I love practicing law. Guiding clients through the stress and upheaval of divorce, a custody battle or the aftermath of a death in the family is position of trust that I take seriously. Drafting an amicable separation agreement, or completing an adoption efficiently with as little drama as possible is equally important. I have been a NC Certified Family Law Specialist since 2009. My law firm handles divorce, custody, child support, alimony, property division, grandparents' rights, domestic violence, tort claims and personal injury, prenuptial and separation agreements, estate planning and administration in Chatham, Orange and Durham counties.
- Family Law
- Domestic Violence
- Estate Planning
- Personal Injury
- North Carolina
- English: Spoken, Written
- Managing Attorney
- Averett Family Law
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- Family Law firm representing clients in cases involving divorce, custody, probate, estate planning and personal injury
- Founder and Executive Director
- DVC Legal Services, Inc.
- Non profit law firm representing indigent domestic violence victims in Orange and Chatham County, NC
- North Carolina Central University School of Law
- J.D. (1998)
- Honors: Magna cum laude
- North Carolina State Bar
- NC Bar Domestic Violence Committee
- Activities: Draft and recommend changes to NC statutes on domestic violence
- Judicial District 15B bar - Orange and Chatham County
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- NC Bar Association
- - Current
- Averett Family Law Blog
- 2018 Averett Family Law visits Hoi An, Vietnam
23 September 2018
- N.C. Annual Family Law Conference in Charleston SC (May 2018)
12 August 2018
- Melissa Averett Recognized by the 2018 Super Lawyers
11 March 2018
- Local attorney speaks at the 2017 Annual Family Law meeting of the Victoria, Australia Bar
25 October 2017
- House Bill 343 has passed
8 August 2017
- 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights
30 May 2017
- Melissa Averett was elected to the Executive Committee of the Family Law Council of the NC Bar Association
15 May 2017
- Rules of the Road: Civil Procedure, Evidence, Ethics and More (2017 Family Law Section Annual Meeting)
28 April 2017
- Why do I need an Estate Plan? I’m only 30!
6 April 2016
- Q. seeking immediate divorce...
- A: There's no such thing as an immediate divorce. You have to have been separated for a year before you can file for divorce. how to file for divorce in North Carolina you have to have lived here for at least 6 months. Then the process typically takes a couple of months after that. An attorney can explain the process to you and file the correct paperwork, or you can contact legal aid of North Carolina and they can help you with the forms.
- Q. Should "monthly adjusted gross income" be used for BOTH parents in a child support order?
- A: On the left side of the form each line is described. it's really hard to confirm what you're talking about without having a copy of the form. But typically there's the gross income, and then a credit if there's another child in the household or if that parent is paying child support for another child. Gross income minus that credit is the adjusted gross income. if you're not paying child support for a second child, or if you don't have a child that you're supporting in your household, then your gross income and your adjusted gross income is the same because you're not entitled to any credits.
- Q. Which would be better for me... I truly can’t afford a lawyer but I want to see my child. mediation or other?
- A: You can't file for just mediation. You can file for custody, and then once you file for custody, free custody mediation through the court system is required in NC. If you go to mediation outside the court system, and no court action has been filed, and it's doubtful that you're going to end up with an agreement that can be enforced because mediators cannot write the formal agreement. But if you file for custody, and then go through Court mediation, if you reach an agreement in mediation, then that agreement can be signed by a judge and become an enforceable order of the Court.
- Q. I am in the middle of doing my child support modification. I am unsure of things
- A: here is the form: https://www.nccourts.gov/assets/documents/forms/cv600-en.pdf?p6P9vXt4PG5WShmWZ_EbNOLmSagI8yw_ the change of circumstances are that 1) credit for child support payments made to child from another relationship were not included in the ordered amount, and 2) loss of employment. for the date of the previous order, you need to see the court file. Go to the court house in the county where the action is pending and ask the clerk of court to either look up the date for you, or let you see the file so you can get the date.
- Q. how can I file for visitation without a lawyer?
- A: See if you can find a local attorney willing to help you with Litigation Assistance or unbundled services. That's where the attorney drafts the documents, and tells you how to file them. The attorney does not make an appearance as your attorney of record and does not go to court with you. That's a lot less expensive. Not every attorney is willing to provide that service, so you probably need to call around. You need to file a lawsuit for custody, serve the mother of your child, and schedule the mediation through the court system. There aren't forms for that, you'll need an attorney to get you through those steps. but if you can hire attorney to just draft the paperwork and tell you the process then you're talking about a few hundred dollars in attorney's fees as opposed to thousands.
- Q. I would like to know my rights for a divorce.
- A: That is a question that is too complicated for an answer in a text message. You need to meet with an attorney in your jurisdiction to get an accurate answer.
- Q. I'm on child support an I haven't seen my boy in years..I beg an beg no answer ..I pay my support
- A: You didn't actually ask a question, but I'm going to assume that you're asking how to get visitation with your son. You need to hire an experienced family law attorney, probably in the county and state where your son lives, and sue for custody and visitation.
- Q. If Parental Rights are surrendered?
- A: A parent cannot surrender their own parental rights. If they could every parent who didn't want to pay child support and wasn't allowed to see their children would do so, and the government would have to support those children. If you have grounds under North Carolina law to terminate his parental rights then you can hire a lawyer and file the appropriate paperwork and have a hearing. The statute, which you can Google, is NCGS 7B-1111. But it also sounds like you would qualify for a restraining order. Maybe not a domestic violence restraining order but that is not the only kind of restraining order. You should talk to a local attorney who is experienced in family law, and has experience with harassment cases. If his rights are terminated then he will not have an ongoing duty to support his kids but he would still owe any arrearage. If any of the custodial adults are receiving public assistance, it may be harder to get the court to terminate his parental rights because that shifts the financial burden on the government instead of him. But an experienced local attorney can help you navigate through the choices.
- Q. In NC, if my employer directly pays my childcare provider the cost of my daughter's childcare how does that factor in
- A: It can be counted as income to you and credited to you as an expense, or it can not go into the child support calculation at all since you are not paying it. What can't happen is it can't be credited as an expense without an income adjustment, and it can't be counted as income without an expense credit. I would run the calculation both ways and then decide what to argue.