Articles Posted in Children

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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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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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Madar v. Madar, No.COA20-28 (Dec. 2020).

In North Carolina, court ordered child support can only be modified by further order of the court. Before modification is allowed, the court must find that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrant the modification. There is an automatic presumption built into the guidelines that allows modification after three years since the initial order, and a difference between old support payment and new payment of 15%. You can still move to modify before waiting the three years, but the court must make the finding for changed circumstances. Income is inherently intertwined with child support, and below is a case that basically explains the need to make a connection between a parent’s income and the child. Continue reading →

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Angelina Jolie recently experienced a small victory in her contentious custody dispute with Brad Pitt. The California Court of Appeals has disqualified the private judge, John Ouderkirk, from further ruling on the matter.  Jolie and Pitt selected Judge John Ouderkirk to handle the custody dispute in the hope that a private judge would further promote the privacy of the case.  However, last year, Jolie asked Ouderkirk to disqualify himself for failing to sufficiently disclose his business relationships with Pitt’s attorneys in a timely manner.  A lower court initially ruled that Jolie’s filing seeking disqualification came too late, but Jolie’s attorneys appealed from that order.  The California Court of Appeals then ruled that Ouderkirk’s business relationships with Pitt’s attorneys raised concerns for his impartiality. Continue reading →

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There is a growing need in North Carolina for foster parents to care for foster children, especially in Rowan County.  In a recent article, the Rowan County Department of Social Services stated there were currently 160 children in their care, but only thirty-four (34) foster families in the county as of June 1, 2021. Continue reading →

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M.E.G. v. C.P., unpublished (2021).

It is not unheard of for one parent to move out of state. If the parties have minor children together, then the question is which parent is primarily going to have custody of the children. Many factors may come into play when making the determination. One set of parents in New Jersey tried to negotiate a relocation in an agreement. In this case, we see just how a court treats such agreement. Continue reading →