Articles Posted in ClientVille

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ZIMMERMAN V. ZIMMERMAN 2021-NCCOA-485

Previously, we have written about the use of stipulations in a case to maximize efficiency and what is required in an oral stipulation in the context of Equitable Distribution. (Our courts have held, for an oral stipulation on Equitable Distribution to be valid, that the parties must be read the terms of the stipulation and questioned as to whether they understand the legal effect of the agreement and then agree. McIntosh v. McIntosh, 328 S.E.2d 600, 74 N.C. App. 554 (N.C. App. 1985)). Continue reading →

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Blackwell v. Blackwell 2021-NCCOA-537

  1. Facts: Mother and Father began a child custody action. Mother subpoenaed numerous mental health documents from healthcare providers. These documents would have purportedly been used at trial to establish Father’s mental health and substance abuse. In 2016, the parties had consented to a custody schedule in a memorandum of judgment. Before the formal written order was entered, Mother filed to modify custody because her job had moved to Pennsylvania. The formal order was entered in December of 2016. Mother then took the child to Pennsylvania with her in 2017. Father filed for ex parte emergency custody, modification of custody, and contempt. Mother requested that the trial court examine the mental health records. At trial, the judge did not admit those records as evidence, stating that he was not concerned with events prior to the entry of the custody order. Eventually, Father’s motions were granted, and he was awarded with permanent custody. Mother appealed.

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There is a mess of a custody case in Massachusetts (MA) that arose from a very reckless surrogacy situation. Apparently, a same-sex couple posted to social media asking for help having a baby. A friend then offered to conceive with her boyfriend (read: the baby would be biologically unrelated to the couple seeking help) and then give the baby to the couple. You might guess what happened next. The friend gave birth and then decided she wanted to keep the baby. The courts in MA decided that these events amounted to an informal surrogacy. The case has been ongoing since 2018. MA has no surrogacy statutes despite judges and advocates calling for enactment of surrogacy laws. The 2021 opinion from the MA Court of Appeals in this case actually begins with a plea to the legislature for guidance on surrogacy arrangements (surrogacy contracts). Continue reading →

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Snowden v. Jaure, (Wyoming Supreme Court)

With Covid-19 raging for over a year now, many families have been affected and often negatively. Job loss is just one consequence of the pandemic. This has caused a loss in income for many individuals. In families going through a custody case, it means that child support calculations are going to be affected. Now one state has litigated one such Covid-19 case all the way to their state’s supreme court. Continue reading →

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There have been phones and computers around for decades now, and in the child custody context they have been instrumental in providing access to children for noncustodial parents. But since Facetime has come around, we are beginning to see some court documents, specifically custody orders, reference Facetime when crafting custodial schedules. The common form of this Facetime provision is to order that the custodial parent—the parent with physical custody of the child at the time—make the children available for Facetime calls. They differ by the duration of the call, and some will specify specific windows of time in which the noncustodial parent may call. Most also add some sort of “reasonableness” to the equation, so that the Facetime provision is not abused by either party. Continue reading →

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September is National Self-Care Awareness Month. It is a time to remind yourself that you should tend to yourself just as much as you tend to others. Self-care is different for everyone. For some, it’s a brief escape from reality in a good book or movie. For others, it can be a simple run in the park on a dewy morning. Some find that perfect moment when they sit back and gaze at their perfectly mowed lawn. And yet for others, it might even be finally going forward with divorce!

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be luxurious. And it doesn’t need to be brief. Self-care is the concept that focuses on recharging your own spirit so that you can have the energy to spend on others. It is more a mindset than any singular task. It should reduce your stress and allow you respite from the daily turmoil. It should not be confused with being selfish.

Self Care Ideas

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Matthew Taylor Coleman and his wife, Abby Coleman, were living a picturesque life in their Santa Barbara, California home with their two young children—Kaleo, a two-year-old boy, and Roxy, a ten-month-old girl— when events took a turn for the worse.  While the family was packing for a camping trip, Matthew allegedly placed the children in the family van and drove away without a word to Abby.  She was unable to reach him by phone but eventually tracked his location with the help of authorities and the Find My iPhone application.  After being stopped by law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border and taken into custody, Matthew told investigators he killed his children with a spearfishing gun after being “enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories.”  Believing that Abby possessed serpent DNA that had been passed down to his children, Matthew claimed the death of his children was “saving the world from monsters.”  Matthew has been charged with the foreign murder of U.S. nationals.  Continue reading →

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WALTER V. WALTER 2021-NCCOA-428

The language contained in a consent order should be unambiguous and clearly state what each party is required to do under the order. When the reading of the order leads to multiple reasonable interpretations, it may become impossible to enforce through contempt. Below is a custody consent order that had one such line of ambiguous language: Continue reading →

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Orren v. Orren, 800 S.E.2d 472, 253 N.C.App. 480 (N.C. App. 2017)

We have previously written about what cohabitation means in the alimony and postseparation support context. Essentially, according to North Carolina law, it is an appropriate termination point for alimony and postseparation support. But in some cases, a party that could potentially bring a claim for spousal support may have already begun to cohabitate. Can the potential supporting party claim cohabitation as a defense? Continue reading →

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Wall v. Wall, 536 S.E.2d 647, 140 N.C. App. 303 (N.C. App. 2000)

There are various legal mechanisms by which former spouses separate their personal and real property. One mechanism is Equitable Distribution (ED). Practically speaking, however, no division of property should be accomplished without first obtaining an Order/Judgment from the court. This is especially true for more valuable and unique assets like real property. So what happens if you have your hearing, but don’t get an Order in a timely manner? Continue reading →