James F. (Rik) Lovett, Jr.

has been practicing law for roughly 27 years in Raleigh (Wake County, N.C. and the surrounding counties). Shortly after beginning his legal career as a bankruptcy attorney, Rik gravitated toward the more scintillating, personal arena of divorce / family law and began practicing exclusively in that field and has continued doing so for the last 25 years.

Today Rik is a N.C. State Board Certified Specialist in family law and a Martindale Hubbel AV Preeminent attorney. He has also been named Legal Elite by N.C. Business Magazine (nominated by peers) for the last six years. In 2014, Rik was named a National Advocate Top 100 Matrimonial and Family Lawyer. In 2015, Rik was named Ten Best in N.C. – client satisfaction – by the American Institute of Family Lawyers. Mr. Lovett has earned a current 10 out of 10 ranking from AVVO, a national rating system to give clients guidance in finding the best domestic / family lawyer for them.

A former N.C. state high school tennis champion, nationally ranked junior, and college scholarship athlete, Rik initially learned to fight on a tennis court. Those skills were readily transferable to the courtroom and negotiation / mediation playing fields.

Rik obtained his B.A. degree from Furman University (Greenville, S.C.) and his law degree from Wake Forest University (Winston – Salem, N.C.). He is a member of the American Bar Association (family law section), the N.C. Bar Association (family law section), the N.C. State Bar and the Wake County Bar Association. His practice is limited to Divorce and Family Law. He is available to lecture on domestic / family law topics to legal, church, and civic groups and is a member of the Christian Legal Society.

Rik teaches Continuing Legal Education seminars to other North Carolina family law attorneys. Rik has lectured at these family law seminars over the years:

  • 2016 – Divorce Law Boot Camp
  • 2013 – Child Custody Procedures: Form by Form
  • 2012 – Dividing Debt During Divorce: A Step-By-Step Guide To Properly Handling The Latest Bankruptcy, Foreclosure And  Debt Issues During Divorce Proceedings
  • 2011 – Advanced Issues in Divorce: Solutions to Real Life Family Law Problems
  • 2011 – Child Custody from A to Z: In The Best Interests of the Child
  • 2010 – Divorce Litigation: From Start to Finish
  • 2008 – Preventing Critical Financial Mistakes During Divorce
  • 2007 – Equitable Divorce Settlements
  • 2006 – Successful Financial Settlements For Your Divorce Clients
  • 2005 – Crucial Discovery Techniques in North Carolina Dissolution Cases: Finding The Money
  • 2004 – Complex Issues in Divorce for the North Carolina Practitioner – Forensic Accounting and Valuation in Divorce and Tax Aspects of Divorce
  • 2003 – Family Law in North Carolina – Analysis of Financial Information, Consideration in Child Custody, and Preparation and Trial of a Divorce Case
  • 2003 – Exploring Essential Issues in Domestic Law for North Carolina Paralegals – When and Why Marital Agreements are Needed, and Gathering and Analyzing Financial Information
  • 2002 – Marital Agreements Made Easy in North Carolina – Recent Developments Impacting Premarital Agreements – Court Decisions and Emerging Trends, and Drafting Marital Agreements

Rik is married, has four children, and when not feeding his workaholic addiction, enjoys attending sporting events, tennis, jogging, perusing Wall Street Journal editorials and reading books that make people think.

Appellate Record

Rik Lovett has an impressive 4-2 record in cases he has appealed:

Lambert v Riddick 120 N.C. App. 480, 462 S.E. 2d 835 (1995)

Established right of biological parent, in an initial child custody determination against a non-parent, to physical custody of their child as long as the biological parent has not committed abuse or neglect.

Pulliam v Smith 348 N.C. 616, 501 S.E. 2d 898 (1998)

Co-authored amicus brief in this Supreme Court of N.C. decision establishing a new and different way to modify an existing custody order. Prior to this case, a party attempting to change a custody order had to first show a substantial change in circumstances and that the child or children were being negatively impacted. After this decision, a party attempting to change a custody order could also show a substantial change in circumstances and a positive impact on a child or children and have the court consider custody modification on that basis.

In re Byrd ex rel. Adoption of Byrd 137
N.C. App. 623, 529 S.E.2d 465 (2000)

In re Adoption of Byrd 354 N.C. 188,
552 S.E. 2d 142 (2001)

Co-authored amicus brief in this Supreme Court of N.C. decision which made it much easier for adoptive parents to finalize their adoptions without interference from uninvolved unwed fathers. As a result of this case, if unwed fathers do not provide consistent financial support and show some degree of interest in the mother’s well-being or legitimate their children prior to the birth of the child, they have no rights to prevent an adoption once a child has been placed with an adoptive parent.

Page v. McCabe

This was an appeal involving the dismissal of a motion to modify child custody.  At the time of the original custody order, the parties both lived in Wake County.  Subsequent to the entry of the original custody order, Plaintiff/Father moved to New Hanover County (Wilmington), which was more centrally located for his work.  Because the original custody order did not provide for an exchange location, Defendant/Mother required Father to drive all the way to Wake County to do the custodial exchanges, instead of meeting halfway.  Mother argued that the move was voluntary and that, regardless of where the exchange occurs, the children are in the car for the same length of time—therefore, there is no effect on the children. Father argued that a midway exchange location would allow the children to spend more “meaningful” (i.e., not in the car) time with Father during their limited weekend visits because they would get to New Hanover County sooner at the beginning of the weekend and could stay later at the end of the weekend.  The trial court dismissed Father’s motion at the close of his evidence—finding that the move was voluntary and that the car ride has no effect on the children.  Father appealed.

Ruling:  The COA’s ruling was a technical one.  The COA noted the difference between allegations and proof:  allegations are what a party intends to prove at trial.  The COA found that Father’s motion alleged a substantial change in circumstances—the move to New Hanover County and, as a result, less “meaningful” time with the children because the Father has to drive all the way to/from Wake County to pick-up/drop-off the children.  However, the trial court based its dismissal of Father’s motion on a rule dealing with a party’s failure to prove his allegations at trial…but, in its written order, the trial court said that Father had failed to allege a substantial change in circumstances.

Result:  COA vacated order of dismissal and remanded to trial court for entry of new order.

Moriggia v Castello

This was the appeal of a custody case brought by a non-legal parent against the legal parent.  Plaintiff and Defendant were both women in a romantic relationship; they were never legally married.  Plaintiff already had a child and Defendant decided that she, too, wanted a child.  The parties researched various ways of having another baby (adoption, artificial insemination, etc.). Ultimately, a donor egg and donor sperm was used and the parties prepared for “their” baby.  However, once the baby was born, Defendant decided that she wanted to raise this baby as her own and kept the parental decision making and authority to herself, excluding Plaintiff from much of it.  The parties separated when the child was approximately 18 months old.  Thereafter, Plaintiff sued for custody.  The trial court found that Plaintiff did not have standing (as a non-parent) to seek custody of the child and dismissed Plaintiff’s custody claim.  This had the effect of vesting sole and exclusive custody of the child in Defendant.  Plaintiff appealed.

Bar Admissions

  • North Carolina

Education

  • Furman University
    • Greenville, SC
    • B.A.
  • Wake Forest University
    • Winston Salem, NC
    • J. D.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Wake County Bar Association

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Rik Lovett

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Thomas Currin

Associate

Brad Bell

Associate

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