“I came, I saw, I conquered.” Julius Caesar
When you come to see me as a divorce lawyer, you will lay your family’s confidences out on the table. I will compassionately listen to your story. After I hear all you have to share, I will help you pick up those pieces and move forward with your life. Here is a little about mine.
Law School. Prosecution. Private Practice. I vividly remember my first session of law school many years ago. Having just graduated from West Virginia University at 21 years old, I sat in the auditorium at Wake Forest University School of Law not knowing one person or what to expect. Thirty plus years later, I returned to North Carolina after enjoying a successful and exciting legal career in West Virginia. Most of my career has been spent in a courtroom or preparing a case so well that we did not need to go to the courtroom after all. In those cases, we reached an agreement which means that the parties decided their own fate rather than a Judge or a Jury.
While the early years of my practice involved Employment Law litigation, representing companies sued for discrimination, labor disputes and wage and hour issues in depositions, hearings, and trials, Family Law would become my calling and is now my primary area of practice. It was a natural fit based on my experiences and my passion for helping people.
In another phase of my legal career, I had the privilege of being elected to and serving three terms (or twelve years) as a Prosecuting Attorney. I began with little to no experience, but I left with convictions under my belt. My responsibilities included trying thousands of cases from traffic tickets to murders with too much child abuse and domestic violence cases in between. Evaluating the facts and evidence, applying the law, preparing witnesses, trying the case before a jury or negotiating a plea was what I did with the kind of enthusiasm that young lawyers only dream about. I truly enjoyed the season of my life in the prosecutor’s office. Serving my county with fervor and heart. Eventually, as the season turned, so did my practice. I landed in private practice and I intend to remain – helping one family at a time.
My reputation as a Prosecuting Attorney led many people to trust me with their families so moving towards Family Law was a natural inclination. I recall a divorce client explaining to me her violent, spiteful, and manipulative spouse. She was concerned that no one could handle him in a divorce and custody battle. She wanted to know if I could. My response? “I put murderers away for years. I feel pretty sure I can handle your spouse”. And, I did. Her’s and many others – men and women, with the care I would take for my own family.
Many cases in family law also end with agreements (and not a court order). I encourage agreements when they serve my client’s best interests. Agreements in family court allow a client to control the decisions made for your family rather than a Judge who is essentially a stranger to your life, your children and you. But, before you reach an agreement, I will make sure you understand the law and evidence we have in your case. I will give you options to consider. I may even nudge you along the way. In the end, it is you who decides whether to agree or present your case to the court.
My practice includes all areas of family law from pre-nuptial agreements, child custody and child support to divorce and all of the issues that arise along the way. There are three specific areas I tend to spend the most time: complicated custody cases, substance abuse addiction cases and identifying assets for either spouse or parent (particularly when they allegedly don’t exist).
For custody cases, I enjoy creating parenting plans that are unique to each family and recommending tools for parents to use as they move through the divorce or custody process. These resources may be books, articles, or finding a counselor with expertise in certain areas. Many times, a custody situation becomes a complicated battle. When this happens, my client can count on aggressive, truthful advice based on the law that gets my client the most time with their children.
I have also handled many family cases involving substance abuse and addiction. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling that have invaded a family, these cases require special care and strategy. A plan must be developed that involves the safety of the family and access to both parents if the addictive parent can be sober. The experience of representing both sides of these cases allows a broad view of solutions my clients.
Lastly, but certainly not least, asset identification is essential in a divorce. The obvious assets and the not so obvious. Years of working with law enforcement and experts allows me a unique perspective in finding and evaluating financial information. Having evaluated and protected medical practices, franchises and family-owned shops, I know and understand the importance of the asset for my clients.
I see how vulnerable a person can be when they come to see me about divorce or a custody matter. As each client sets their family’s confidences out on the table, all I want to do is protect that family’s future. I begin by understanding my client’s story and then we work together to write (or right) the next chapters. The advice given by me is direct and unfiltered, so the best decisions can be made by YOU. My clients learn what the law allows, does not allow, and the risks along the way. Should you reach an agreement? Should you head to the courtroom? You will have all the information needed to make the decision.
Coming full circle, I find myself returning to North Carolina to work with Sodoma Law and represent and advocate for clients across the Greater Charlotte Region. I bring a wealth of experience, confidence, and continued passion to each client. If a client comes to me with rose colored glasses about the divorce process, they will leave with a clear, realistic view of what their case will look like. In every family law case, there are dips, turns, and sometimes craters in the way. I lead a well-informed client through each step as they untangle their family and finances. I look forward to working with you and your family every step of the way – no matter where that journey may lead us.