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Articles Posted in Custody

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Shak v. Shak, ____ Mass. _____, SJC-12748 (2020).

Nondisparagement clauses are ubiquitous in custody agreements and orders. Generally, they are a blanket prohibition on a parent from “talking bad” about the other parent in a form that the minor child(ren) will understand (whether in their presence or on social media, etc.). These clauses are commonly included so that the child will grow up in a less tumultuous environment, free from psychological harm that stems from hurtful exchanges of words. In fact, our own courts have guidelines that are commonly incorporated into custody orders. However, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently reviewed these clauses under a constitutional lens, and the result is quite interesting.

1. Facts: The Mother filed an emergency motion to remove the Father from the marital home based on the Father’s aggressive behavior, temper, threats, and substance abuse. A judge issued the order to vacate and granted Mother sole custody. In a temporary order, the judge included provisions that “[n]either party shall disparage the other – nor permit any third party to do so – especially when within hearing range of the child[,] and “[n]either party shall post any comments, solicitations, references or other information regarding this litigation on social media.” Once Father made such posts on social media platforms and shared them with mutual friends, Mother filed for civil contempt. Father then raised free speech issues. The judge failed to find contempt and ruled that the temporary order was indeed an unlawful prior restraint on speech. The judge then sought to cure the previous language by narrowly tailoring the provisions that borrowed thematically from time, place, and manner restrictions on speech. The judge then submitted those provisions, along with the constitutional question to the state supreme court for review.

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Demar v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 201991, 2019 WL 3244301 (2019)

(a) Facts: Husband and wife were divorced. The divorce decree, which was a consent judgment, provided that the child would reside primarily with the wife. The husband was permitted to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes in odd-numbered years but only if he was current on child support and the wife’s income was less than $15,000. “If these conditions were met, Ms. DeMar agreed to execute Form 8332 or a similar written declaration.” 2019 WL 3244301, at *1. Continue reading →

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Skitzki v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 2019106, 2019 WL 3946102 (2019)

(a) Facts: Husband and wife were divorced. The divorce decree gave the father custody two weekends each month, one weekday per week if the mother was in Ohio, and three (before age four) or four weeks in the summer. It described both parents as “residential parent and legal custodian.” The decree further stated that the father “shall take” the child as a dependent for tax purposes in even-numbered years. Continue reading →

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There are lots of fun activities for families to enjoy in and around Greensboro and Western NC this summer, and it’s especially important for divorced moms to get out there and make some wonderful new memories with their children. Divorce is hard on everyone, but middle schoolers are particularly sensitive. To help ease the pain and strengthen your family bonds, try these ideas on for size. Continue reading →

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Divorced moms in Greensboro, North Carolina, know that most teens seem to have no problem spending their days inside on their phone, chatting with their friends and watching videos or streaming shows. But it’s summertime, and the great outdoors is calling. How can you entice them to put the phone on “Do Not Disturb” and join you for some fun? Here are some activities to do with your teenager in and around Greensboro. Continue reading →

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During and after a divorce, divorced fathers need to be vigilant in helping their children deal with the stress, insecurity, and bewilderment they are likely to feel. This is especially true for middle schoolers who are still susceptible to feeling a wide range of emotions about the divorce, simply because they may not truly understand all the circumstances. Divorced fathers who take the time to engage in a variety of quality activities with their middle schoolers will certainly make a tremendous positive impact and improve the chances of maintaining a healthy, positive relationship. Continue reading →

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By Carolyn Woodruff, JD, CPA, CVA and North Carolina Family Law Specialist

The low conflict divorce might utilize a Bird’s Nest for Child Custody in Greensboro, North Carolina. It is particularly useful if that house won’t sell so no one has money for moving. Continue reading →

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Can the court terminate a parent’s rights for willful abandonment of the children? Are there steps a parent estranged from his child can take to ensure this doesn’t happen? In a recent North Carolina appellate decision, the court considered willful abandonment and termination of parental rights. The case arose when the parents of two minor kids separated in 2010 just before the second child was born. The mother sued for custody, child support, and alimony. The father didn’t go to the custody proceedings, and the mother was given sole custody of the kids with reasonable visitation for the father who lived in a different state.

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Can a lower court restrict your use of your passport in a North Carolina child custody order? In a recent North Carolina case, the defendant appealed from the court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration and relief from a 2015 child custody and support order. The defendant was a Poland-born American citizen. He and his wife had one minor child. They separated in 2013 and were divorced in a 2014 judgment. Continue reading →

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In North Carolina, custody can be modified when there is a substantial change of circumstances, but importantly, this change need not be adverse. A positive change can also be the basis for a modification of North Carolina child custody. In a recent appellate decision, the court considered modification of custody in a child’s best interest at a grandparent’s request. The case arose from the modification of a 2012 custody order. The plaintiffs were the paternal grandparents of two children, and the plaintiff’s son was the children’s father. The children’s mother had gotten married since an earlier order of the court and her interests were opposed to the father and grandparents’ interests. Continue reading →