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Assumptions and Presumptions and Suppositions, Oh My! (2022 Family Law Fall Program)

8:25        Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:55        Welcome and Introductions

9:00        Custody

Nadia A. Margherio, Sodoma Law, Charlotte

Explore whether the current legal presumptions involved in custody cases (e.g., Petersen, the "intact family rule," burdens in third-party custody cases, and parenting coordinator involvement) continue to make sense in our practice, whether we need to change some of these presumptions, and whether we need more presumptions (e.g., minimum visitation time).

10:00      Break

10:10      Child Support

Leigh B. Sellers, Touchstone Family Law, Charlotte

Hear about the presumptions that underlie our current child support system, whether these presumptions make child support cases simpler or more difficult to litigate or resolve, whether the guidelines make sense, and whether we are better off with or without them.

11:10      Break

11:20      Mental Health

Rebecca K. Watts, Collins Family Law Group, Charlotte

We all know people who have dealt with mental health issues, but we don't always know when our friends and colleagues are affected. The stigma around mental health issues often causes people to hide their struggles from others. In this presentation, some of our friends and colleagues will share their stories of struggles with mental health — the hope being that through their stories we can become more aware of the issues and that anyone struggling in silence will see that they are not alone.

12:20      Lunch Break

1:20        Appeals

Jonathan G. McGirt, Jonathan G. McGirt Attorney at Law, Raleigh

Walk through the appeals process in family law cases and learn about which orders can be appealed, how they are appealed, what you can and cannot accomplish with an appeal, and what presumptions govern the Court of Appeals as they review a trial court's order.

2:20        Break

2:30        Alimony

Elizabeth J. "Libby" James, Offit Kurman, Charlotte

Review the history and development of presumptions that govern alimony cases and consider whether our current factors need to be updated, whether it makes sense for martial misconduct to continue operating as a complete bar to alimony, whether we need alimony guidelines, and whether there should be presumptions related to the length of the marriage.

3:30        Break

3:40        Equitable Distribution

Ketan P. Soni, Soni Brendle, Charlotte

Analyze the starting presumptions involved in equitable distribution, what it takes to overcome those presumptions, and who has the burden when one seeks to overcome the presumptions. We also consider what works and what does not work and whether we need more or fewer presumptions.

4:40        Adjourn

† Indicates portion providing Substance Abuse/Mental Health credit


We encounter assumptions, presumptions and suppositions nearly every day in the practice of family law. Some of these are set out in statutes, some are derived from case law, and some come from local practice or personal experience.


  • Chelsea E. Gajewski

    Chelsea E. Gajewski is a family law attorney with Sodoma Law PC in Charlotte. Her sole area of practice is family law in Mecklenburg County and surrounding counties. She assists her clients through a variety of family law areas to include, but not limited to, property distribution, separation agreements, alimony, child custody, child support, separation agreements and guardian ad litem work.

    Chelsea is the Chair of the Membership Committee and a member of the CLE Committee of the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. She is also a member of the Social and Networking Committee of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association. Chelsea also dedicates her time to Council for Children's Rights as a volunteer attorney.

    Chelsea is originally from Buffalo, New York and came to North Carolina to pursue her legal career. She obtained her B.A. in Social Work from State University of New York at Fredonia where she focused on working with children. She earned her J.D. from Charlotte School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Chelsea.

  • Elizabeth J. "Libby" James

    Elizabeth J. "Libby" James is a Partner at Hamilton Stephens Steele & Martin PLLC in Charlotte. She practices family law with an emphasis on alimony, post-separation support, equitable distribution, separation agreements, premarital agreements, child support, child custody, contempt motions, qualified domestic relations orders, name changes and domestic violence protective orders and appeals.

    Libby is a certified Family Law Specialist and is certified by the Cooperative Parenting Institute as a Parent Coordinator. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Board of Directors and the American Bar Association. She is the co-author of the Lexis Nexis Practice Guide: North Carolina Family Law. She is also a Fellow of the AAML (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers) and a Fellow of the IAFL (Internation Academy of Family Lawyers).

    Libby earned her B.A., magna cum laude, in Politics from the University of Tennessee and her J.D. from the University of South Carolina.

    Click here for more information about Libby.

  • Nadia A. Margherio

    Nadia A. Margherio is a principal and attorney at Sodoma Law PC in Charlotte where she practices family law. In addition to her work as a family law attorney, Nadia also serves as a Court Appointed Guardian ad Litem and Parenting Coordinator.

    An advocate for lifelong learning, Nadia has taught CLE courses on a variety of topics for both local and state bar programs to include presenting at AFCC's 50th Anniversary conference in Los Angeles. Considered an authority on all things custody and co-parenting, Nadia has been published in both local and regional outlets including Charlotte Observer, Huffington Post, Chicago Health, and has appeared on Fox 46's Good Day Charlotte and WBTV. Regularly recognized for excellence, Nadia has been named one of Charlotte's Most Influential Women and received the North Carolina Lawyer's Weekly Women in Justice award.

    Nadia earned her B.A. in Psychology from Binghamton University, State University of New York, her Master of Social Work from University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Social Work and her J.D. from University of South Carolina School of Law.

    Outside of work, Nadia stays active and busy as mom to her three teenage children. Outside of the countless carpool lines, soccer games and track meets, Nadia and her children enjoy traveling, skiing and spending time with family in New York.

    Click here for more information about Nadia.

  • Jonathan G. McGirt

    Jonathan G. McGirt is a sole practitioner with a statewide practice based in Raleigh. He has practiced law for 28 years, and since 2010, his practice has concentrated exclusively on all aspects of family law appeals.

    Jonathan is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law and a Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice Law. He is a member of the NCBA Appellate Practice Section Council, and he is Chair of the NCAJ Family Law Section.

    Jonathan earned his B.A. in German and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

  • Leigh B. Sellers

    Leigh B. Sellers is the founder of Touchstone Family Law in Charlotte and Fort Mill, SC. Before founding Touchstone Family Law, she was a partner in a law firm for 14 years. Although she worked as a staff attorney with the South Carolina Supreme Court following law school, she has been a family law attorney since 1993, when she entered private practice in Columbia, SC. She moved to Charlotte in 1995 and after passing the North Carolina Bar, began her practice in North Carolina as well as continuing her practice in South Carolina.

    Leigh is Board Certified by the North Carolina State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law. She is currently serving on the Family Law Council of the North Carolina Bar and South Carolina Bar Associations. She is a member of the North and South Carolina Bar Associations, the American Bar Association, and the International Association of Collaborative Law Professionals as well as Collaborative Divorce Practice Groups in SC and NC. She has been a trained Family Court Mediator since 1995.

    Leigh hosts a divorce Podcast entitled "Welcome to Splitsville" covering common divorce topics and interviewing related professionals who can be helpful when facing divorce and separation. If she had any talent whatsoever, she would be a struggling actor in New York. She lives in Charlotte, with her husband. Two children have been launched into the world and, amazingly, are both engaged to be married. Leigh takes immense pride in the fact being raised by a divorce attorney and working in her office at times, did not scare them away from the institution.

    Leigh earned her B.A. in Modern European Studies from Vanderbilt University and her J.D. from University of South Carolina School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Leigh.

  • Ketan P. Soni

    Ketan P. Soni is a partner with Soni Brendle PLLC in Charlotte. Since 2000, Ketan has represented clients in divorce, equitable distribution, alimony, child custody, child support, domestic violence, and appeals in Charlotte, Raleigh, and the surrounding areas. Ketan practices divorce law to achieve the best possible result with a "big picture" view of each case. Ketan is also a North Carolina DRC Certified Family Financial and Superior Court Mediator.

    In 2011, Ketan saw the damage the court process inflicted on spouses and parents, and so he opened a mediation practice designed to help spouses create their own resolution without having to go to court. Ketan now teaches a 40-hour Mediation Training Course approved by the Dispute Resolution Commission of North Carolina.

    Ketan received his B.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his J.D. degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Ketan.

  • Rebecca K. "Becky" Watts

    Rebecca K. "Becky" Watts is a partner and Chief Legal Officer at Collins Family Law Group in Monroe, where she is also the head of the appellate practice group. She represents clients at the trial court level for a select number of cases and also serves as a mediator or arbitrator in family law cases.

    Becky's practice consists almost entirely of family law appeals and she has handled approximately 50 cases in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court, dealing with issues such as custody, child support, equitable distribution, enforcement of separation agreements, annulments, domestic violence and contempt.

    Becky is active with the North Carolina Bar Association's Family Law Section, the North Carolina Bar Association's Appellate Practice Section, the North Carolina Bar Association's Appellate Rules Committee, the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, and the Mecklenburg County Domestic Court Bar Committee. She is also a certified Family Law Specialist.

    Becky earned her B.S. from Florida State University and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Becky.

If you did not attend this program in its entirety, please fill out a partial credit form to ensure that we report your credit accurately.

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September 9, 2022
Fri 8:25 AM EDT
Hilton Charlotte Uptown 222 East Third Street Charlotte, NC 28202 704.377.1500

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Duration 8H 15M

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