Articles Posted in Children

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Defendant Mother appeals from the trial court’s order on child support and custody.  The Court of Appeals reverses and remands.

Plaintiff Father and Defendant Mother married on January 1, 1994.  The parties had two sons and separated on May 10, 1997.  The parties’ divorce judgment was filed on August 17, 1998, which incorporated their separation agreement.  The separation agreement provided a custodial schedule that directed the parties’ two sons to reside primarily with Defendant Mother and to spend every other weekend and summer vacation with Plaintiff Father.  The agreement further provided that Plaintiff Father would pay half of the children’s uninsured medical and dental expenses and $200.00 each month as additional child support. Continue reading →

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Morris v. Powell, 840 S.E.2d 223, 269 N.C.App. 496 (N.C. App. 2020):

North Carolina has very recently decided a case of first impression regarding “de facto emancipation.” Emancipation is typically one of the listed termination events for child support. This is when a child, who has not yet attained the age of majority, petitions the court to be independent and free from parental control. Our statutes allow anyone who is 16 years of age or older to petition the court for a judicial decree of emancipation, if they have been a resident for at least six months in the same county in North Carolina. Continue reading →

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Ex-football star Clinton Portis is in hot water for non-payment of child support. Portis was a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos back in 2002, then was traded to Washington.  He is also a two-time Pro Bowler whose NFL earnings exceeded $43 million during his career until he retired in 2012.  Despite this, Portis filed for bankruptcy in 2015, claiming mismanagement of funds by his financial advisors. Continue reading →

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Argueta v. Baker, 137 A.D.3d 1020, 27 N.Y.S.3d 237 (2016)

There are times where parents do not effectively co-parent. There are even times where one parent goes out of their way to interfere in the parent-child relationship with the other parent. There are ways to enforce the controlling custody order, such as contempt. But New York seems to also have another avenue of relief, asking the court to terminate child support. Note: this is not North Carolina law, it is from New York. Continue reading →

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Harris v. Harris, 352 S.E.2d 869, 84 N.C.App. 353 (N.C. App. 1987)

In the case above, the plaintiff was ordered to pay to defendant an Equitable Distribution (ED) distributive award in the amount of $23,706.82, but payment of the award was postponed until the parties’ youngest child reached age 18 or graduated from high school. The Court of Appeals reversed because, at the time, such a postponement would have extended the distributive award to seven years after the termination of the marriage. This was significant, as the court is not to order a distributive award that would be paid “over such an extended time period that the payment thereof will be treated by the Internal Revenue Service as ordinary income.” Here, the courts look to IRS regulations to prevent taxes on the transfer of property incident to divorce, and IRS rules say gains or losses that result from transfers are not treated as ordinary income if they relate to the cessation of the marriage. However, if a transfer occurs more than six years after the termination of the marriage, one presumes it is not related to the cessation of the marriage. 26 CFR § 1.1041-1T.  That would be rebuttable but involves more work. Continue reading →

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Mendez v. Mendez, 2021-NCCOA-680 (2021)

  • Facts: Plaintiff was ordered to pay defendant $2,271 per month in child support pursuant to a child support order filed in 2015. In 2018, Defendant filed a motion to modify child support. Defendant’s monthly gross income was $3,964. She asserted that the children’s needs have increased with their age, including involvement in new extracurricular activities such as music, fencing, and acting classes. For the initial 2015 order, Plaintiff made much more income. He was a department of defense contractor, owned a business, and VA disability benefits. In 2019, Plaintiff’s VA benefits were increased due to his diagnosis with prostate cancer. In 2018, Plaintiff was admitted to law school and would be attending when his cancer treatments ended. The trial court reduced Plaintiff’s child support obligation due to his decreased income. Defendant appeals.

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We’ve all experienced trying times during the pandemic. From school and business closures throwing a wrench in our daily plans to mask-wearing as the new normal, the pandemic has brought about many disputes and concerns, especially among divorced parents who share custody of their children. One Washington State father, Richard John Burke, is paying the price of his actions related to the pandemic after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree custodial interference in late August.

Burke shares three sons aged 6, 7, and 10 with his ex-wife. On March 24, Burke was supposed to return his three sons to their mother pursuant to a court-ordered parenting plan.  Instead he communicated to his ex-wife that he would be keeping his three sons for an additional four days.  Then, on March 28, Burke failed again to return the children to their mother. On March 29, the children’s school called the mother to let her know Burke had contacted them to state the children would no longer be attending school and to unenroll them immediately.

Burke pushed conspiracy theories about masks and the COVID-19 vaccine. He believed that the children’s school’s masking policy was “an absolute crime,” and also stated that one of his sons “will never be vaccinated again.” Upon deciding that he needed to take extraordinary measures to “protect his boys,” Burke fled with the three children. A judge authorized a $500,000 warrant for Burke’s arrest, and he was eventually taken into custody in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

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Jackson v. Jackson, 2021-NCCOA-614 (2021)

  1. Facts: Mother and Father had an unincorporated child support agreement for their three children. Custody was shared between the parties. Later, one child aged out. Mother then relocated, and one child moved with her. The other remaining minor child moved in with Father. For this period, Father sought temporary child support and termination of his previous child support obligation because of the change in custody situation. Mother then filed a breach of contract for Father’s lowering and subsequent cessation of child support payments. At trial the court considered Father’s bonuses and commissions as part of his income. His base salary was $58,000, but he testified that he expected to get commissions even though he had not yet received any. The court found that father’s income was $71,000 annually.

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https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/s4248

Child Custody in North Carolina is based on which parent can best provide for the interests of the child. It is an oft repeated principle that ultimately decides the issue. Children are important and the court is required to scrutinize the parents in order to make this determination. It is so important that, if a custody order leaves out the final determination that a certain custodial schedule would serve the best interests of the child, it is typically immediately reversable. All that said, should pets get the same treatment? Continue reading →

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JACOBS V. DUDLEY, 2021-NCCOA-571 (19 October 2021).

Child custody can be hotly contested. Often people will have third parties (i.e., not the parents or guardians of the child) involved in some custody disputes. These people include teachers, doctors, therapists, and extended family members. Such individuals are often asked to come to court to expound on the parenting abilities of the parties, the child’s performance in school, and perhaps even the psychological state of the child. Choosing a good witness to introduce facts to the case is important. Below, we see an instance where one bad witness backfired. Continue reading →