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

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

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 principal at the Charlotte office of Offit Kurman. She is a certified Family Law Specialist and is certified by the Cooperative Parenting Institute as a Parent Coordinator. Since 2005, she has dedicated herself to assisting individuals with delicate, personal legal matters. 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 has presented the case law update at the Family Law Annual Meeting on several occasions and has done the family law case law update for other CLE events. She has been included in Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in 2013-2019, as well as listed in the Best Lawyers in America in 2013-2019. She serves on the Mecklenburg County Bar Board of Directors, the Mecklenburg Family Law Committee Chair, and formerly served on the Mecklenburg County Pro Bono Committee.

    Libby is also admitted to practice in the Western District of North Carolina, and in the State of South Carolina. She earned her B.A. from the University of Tennessee and her J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina. 

    Click here for more information about Libby.

  • Nadia A. Margherio

    Nadia A. Margherio is a principal at Sodoma Law in Charlotte. After graduating with a Masters in Social Work, she worked with children and their families who were represented by the Public Defender's Office. As an expert witness for the Assistant Public Defender, she was very effective in achieving the desired outcome, but realized her passion was for something greater and decided to go to law school. Her goal as a practitioner is twofold: to incorporate her experience and clinical skills as a social worker to help families deal with the subjective and human factors of divorce such as pain, fear, displacement and uncertainty and combine that with her experience and legal skill set as an attorney.

    Nadia often lectures at academic institutions on the topics of divorce, separation, child custody and child support and has presented "Considering Child Preferences in Custody Decisions: Research, Assessment and Issues" nationally. She is an experienced mediator in family law cases and is a frequently appointed Guardian ad litem and Parenting Coordinator in high-conflict custody cases.

    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.

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

  • Leigh B. Sellers

    Leigh B. Sellers is founder of Touchstone Family Law in Charlotte. 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, South Carolina. 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 licensed to practice in North Carolina and South Carolina so that she can assist families in both states. She is board certified by the North Carolina State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization. She is a trained mediator certified by the North Carolina Bar and has been a member of the Mecklenburg Collaborative Law Practice Group since 2003.

    Leigh currently serves on the Family Law Council of both the North Carolina State Bar and the South Carolina State Bar. In addition, she is active in the local bars in the multiple jurisdictions where she appears on behalf of clients.

    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 Charlotte, where she is also the head of the appellate practice group.

    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. In addition to her appellate practice, 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 graduated from law school at the University of North Carolina, and then began her family law practice in the Raleigh/ Durham/ Chapel Hill area. Upon making the decision that she would practice exclusively in the area of family law, she became certified as a Family Law Specialist in 2005. She relocated to Charlotte in 2006 and around that time she began to represent clients in family law appeals.

    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.

    Click here for more information about Becky.

Click here to view Forms and CLE Policies, Terms and Conditions.

If paying by check, click here for a printable registration form. Please reference the live webcast program code 149LWC.

September 9, 2022
Fri 8:55 AM EDT

Duration 7H 45M

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