North Carolina Certified Family Law Legal Specialist, AAML Fellow
I have been practicing family law since 1976. I have extensive experience representing divorcing spouses from all walks of life and am acutely aware of how the law affects my clients’ unique circumstances. I am a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Family Law and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. I focus my practice exclusively on matters involving issues of marriage and divorce. I represent clients throughout Western North Carolina.
While every divorce is unique, and not all divorce matters deal with extremely complicated issues, complex divorces are not necessarily limited to families with high incomes or high net worth. Complex divorce cases often arise from entangled family assets and debts, which include elements like professional practices and closely held family businesses and/or couples who have invested in collections, real estate, pension and retirement plans, etc. Long-term marriages where alimony, home equity, retirement and college savings accounts are at issue also present challenges that are best handled by an experienced family law specialist. I am versed at recognizing, analyzing and understanding these matters and I limit my practice to those types of divorces.
Many situations require outside experts to analyze and trace cash flows, locate assets, determine asset values and address complex tax issues that frequently arise. I understand these issues and can advise you when these experts are needed and how to find them. My network of experienced valuation experts and outside professionals has proven beneficial time and time again.
My staff and I are available to our clients when they need us. I take great pride in providing prompt professional service to all of our clients. We will return calls and respond to your inquiries without delay and we will always keep you up to date on every aspect of your divorce.
We are keenly aware of the emotional and psychological impact associated with divorce proceedings. As a result, we have created a professional environment in which these needs are also respected and addressed. We are a full service divorce law firm.
I was admitted to practice in North Carolina in 1976 after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude, from Bradley University in 1973 and my Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Illinois in 1976.
I practiced for approximately two years with the well established Asheville firm of Van Winkle, Buck, Wall, Starnes, Hyde & Davis, P.A. Then, in early 1979, I formed the firm of Gum and Hillier, P.A., with my partner, David R. Hillier.
I am Board Certified as a Specialist in Family Law by the North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization. I became certified as a Family Law Specialist in 1989, the first year that the North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization offered certification in Family Law. I am also a Certified Family Law Arbitrator certified by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
I’ve represented clients on a regular basis utilizing mediation as a tool to resolve Family Law issues. Various forms of alternative dispute resolution are increasingly utilized in resolving some or all of the issues presented in marriage dissolution cases. I am experienced with the most frequently utilized methods of alternative dispute resolution – arbitration, mediation, neutral evaluation, and collaborative law.
I have had extensive involvement over the years in various professional activities. I have been active for many years in the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association having served several terms as a councilor, Committee Member, and two terms as Chair of the Family Law Section.
In 1987, the North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization formed the Family Law Specialty Committee for the purpose of establishing a Specialty Certification in Family Law. I was Chair of the initial committee, and continued to serve as Chair for a period of six years during which time the standards for certification of family law were developed.
In 1996, I was appointed to the North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization which oversees the administration of all specialty certifications permitted in North Carolina. I served as both Vice Chair and Chair of the Board of Legal Specialization through June of 2001.
I have served on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Lawyer Effectiveness and Quality of Life Committee and on the Board of Directors of North Carolina BarCARES, Inc., which is an organization that provides a network of confidential resources for lawyers and their families in the areas of mental health, relationship issues, as well as professional growth and development issues.
I have served on committees of the Administrative Office of Courts in North Carolina, as appointed by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, including six years on the Family Courts Advisory Committee of the Administrative Office of Courts.
In 2006, the attorneys of the 28th Judicial District Bar elected me to the seat State Bar Councilor, a position that liaises between the state bar and the 28th Judicial District Bar, in Buncombe County. I represent the lawyers in Buncombe County as their Councilor to the North Carolina State Bar where I serve on the Authorized Practice Committee, the Grievance Committee and the Executive Committee. I previously served on both the Attorney Client Assistance Committee and the Administrative Committee.
I am a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, having been elected to Fellowship in 1992 and was one of the Charter members of the North Carolina Chapter of the AAML. I have served as Treasurer, President Elect and President of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and have served in other offices in that organization.
For nearly twenty years, I have been listed in the Best Lawyers in America published by Woodard White in the field of Family Law.
In 2006, I was first voted by peer review to the North Carolina Super Lawyers, which showcases the top 5% of lawyers in every state and still hold that honor. In 2011 and 2012, Super Lawyers included me in their Top 100 List, representing the Top 100 attorneys accumulating the most points from Super Lawyers multi-review process.
In 2009, I was honored by Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite list, the first time that list has included a category for Family Law. Business North Carolina Legal Elite has honored me with inclusion on their list each year since 2009.
In 2012, the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association honored me with their annual Distinguished Service Award for the cumulative effort I’ve dedicated and the various positions I’ve held in the Family Law Section.
In 2011, I was honored by Lawyers Weekly, and included in their Leaders in the Law award. Historically reserved for in-house counsel, Lawyers Weekly recognized the significant contributions of legal professionals in all areas of practice and included paralegals, law professors and judges. More about Leaders in the Law can be found in the blog section of our site.
I am a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for lawyers, and have written and presented manuscripts on several different topics relating to Family Law. I also participated in arbitration training programs as a presenter on behalf of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
My home is Asheville, North Carolina, where I have resided since 1976. I am married to Christine D. Gum, and have two sons, Jason Bryon, born in 1980, and Daren Wesley, born in 1984.
Howard is an avid outdoors man, and enjoys fishing, hunting, sport shooting and other related activities on his farm in Georgia. Howard has two big boxers who are all attention and best buds when the grill gets fired up. He and his wife Christine cherish their time at the farm, nestled in Savannah River Valley near the shores of Lake Richard B. Russell, and spend as many quiet weekends and holidays there as possible. A sportsman’s paradise, its no wonder Howard’s smiling.