Articles Posted in Custody

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Drum v. Drum, 2022-NCCOA-448.

Facts: Plaintiff is the maternal grandmother of a minor child. Defendants are the biological mother and father of the minor child. Notably, Defendant Mother was not a party to the appeal; only Defendant Father appealed.

The minor child at issue in this custody case had been living with Plaintiff since she was six to eight months old. Defendant Father visited the minor child less after Defendant Mother and the minor child moved in with Plaintiff. Defendant Mother had a drug problem and was not present for extended periods of the minor child’s life.

Plaintiff and her ex-husband were the primary caretakers for the minor child. They handled schooling, homework, vacations, etc. Defendant Father was a truck driver who was on the road most days during the week. He had never been a consistent presence in the minor child’s life. He also accumulated over $10,000 in child support arrears. Defendant Father never sought custody or visitation until court proceedings began.

Plaintiff filed for custody and was awarded primary physical custody and joint legal custody. Defendant Father appealed. Continue reading →

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Everyone has seen a hearing on TV, but very few people know the process that leads up to that hearing. 95% of family law cases get settled before they even go to trial. Family law cases can be very stressful, but knowing what’s coming next can help lessen that stress. For a few weeks, we will look at the steps of a family law case prior to a hearing. Continue reading →

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In re JBD, 2022-NCCOA-353 (unpublished).

In North Carolina, termination of parental rights (TPR) cases exist to remove one parent’s complete rights to their child. The grounds for doing so include abuse and neglect of the minor child. The evidence must prove those grounds by clear and convincing evidence, a burden above a preponderance and below beyond reasonable doubt. There are some procedural steps as well. For example, in response to a TPR, the respondent can deny the allegations. If so, the court must appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor child. Another instance of a peculiarity of TPRs is that the trial court essentially enters two orders: one for adjudication on grounds for TPR, and one actually terminating rights (called the disposition order). This is because there are two major steps for TPR: one to find the grounds, and the other to determine whether it is in the best interest of the minor child to terminate a parent’s rights. Below is a case where a respondent did not follow procedure. Continue reading →

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Blue v. Bhiro, 2022-NCSC-45 (2022)

In North Carolina, our Rules of Civil Procedure govern many aspects of civil trials. This includes the vast majority of the actions you will see incident to divorce and separation, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. Under these rules, there are a few preliminary hurdles a complaint may cross before a trial court will hear the matter. Two such hurdles are a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (colloquially called a 12(b)(6) motion), and a motion for summary judgment. Both will dispose of the complaint, albeit for different reasons. Interestingly, because of the effect, sometimes a 12(b)(6) motion can be converted into a motion for summary judgment. Below is a case about one such conversion, or lack of conversion. Continue reading →

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Part 5: Custody Cases Involving LGBTQIA+ Children

Parenting LGBTQIA+ kids can be difficult; trying to protect your child from bullies and bigots is enough to give any parent a sleepless night. Supporting your child, especially if you aren’t familiar with the LBTQ community, can mean working hard to expand both your and your child’s horizons as you help find resources and mentors. Depending on the environment you were raised in, you may also be working to unlearn years and years of your own biases, both conscious and unconscious. It can all be incredibly overwhelming. It may seem like the added stress of a custody battle is the last thing you or your child needs, but if your child’s other parent is unsupportive of your child’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, using the law may be your only recourse to protect your child’s wellbeing. Continue reading →

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Part 2: Trans Parent Custody

This is PRIDE month, and we are looking at family law issues that are specific to the LGBTQIA+ community. In Part 1, we discussed the difficulties LGBTQIA+ parents face in custody cases. Those issues can be daunting enough, but for transgender parents custody cases can be even more complicated. Continue reading →

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A couple in India, Sanjeev Ranjan Prasad and his wife Sadhana Prasad, are retired and longing for a grandchild.  The couple have one son, who received pilot training in the United States and is currently a pilot. Approximately six years ago, Sanjeev and Sadhana arranged for their son to marry their now daughter-in-law. According to Sanjeev and Sadhana, more than enough time has passed for the couple to settle into married life and begin having children.

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This May, Mental Health Awareness Month, we examine how mental health stigmas impact child custody cases and what to consider if you are a parent diagnosed with a mental illness.

 

Lately, it seems like everywhere you turn, people are discussing Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. A lot has been said about Heard’s mental health issues and the testimony given by psychologist Shannon Curry, who described those with borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder as showing “a lot of cruelty,” “very concerned with their image,” and playing a “victim or princess role.”

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During a stage presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week, Olivia Wilde was handed a yellow envelope marked “Personal and Confidential.”  Wilde was discussing her upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling when the ordeal transpired, confusing both Wilde and the audience.  Out of curiosity, she opened the envelope to see what was inside.  After noting the contents, Wilde continued with her presentation.  Later, sources confirmed that the envelope contained legal papers pertaining to her children with ex-fiancé Jason Sudeikis.

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Maddukuri v. Chintanippu, 2022-NCCOA-128 (1 March 2022)

Stipulations are often used to expedite portions of a case/trial so that there is no time wasted on them, allowing the court to focus on the issues that are actually in contention. The use of stipulations of fact is pretty common. It removes the inconvenience of having to show evidence of facts that no one contests. Stipulations can also be used for settlement. These allow for the concession between parties of some rights in return for others. Below is a case where the Court dealt with the potential withdrawal of a stipulation. Continue reading →