October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Although many find comfort and sanctuary within their own home, others do not because of physical violence by a partner. By U.S. Department of Justice estimates, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men endure physical violence by the action of a partner every year. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an outstanding resource for individuals to call for help and guidance if they are experiencing domestic abuse. Continue reading →
Doyle v. Doyle, 176 N.C. App. 547 (2006)
Sometimes, what kicks off a divorce is not a slow descent into a frustrating marriage, but instead a jarring and violent incident that cannot be reconciled. Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO) can be granted to spouses that fear for their or their minor children’s safety. A DVPO plays a major role in a divorce case that includes claims for child custody. In North Carolina, our laws require that judges in child custody proceedings consider acts of domestic violence and safety of the child when making determinations. Is it fair for a judge in custody to allow new arguments for a settled case? Below, we discuss the implications of such a DVPO on child support through the lens of a legal doctrine called collateral estoppel.
(a) Facts: Plaintiff husband and Defendant wife married in 2001 and had one child together. They separated in 2003 and a complaint for child custody and support was filed in 2004. During this period, the parties alternated custody of the minor child on their own accord. On one such exchange, Plaintiff was at Defendant’s home to pick up the child when Defendant tried to prevent them leaving by trying to remove the child from Plaintiff’s arms. Defendant struck Plaintiff’s groin, and Plaintiff responded with his own use of force. Police were called and Defendant filed for a DVPO. Plaintiff filed a counterclaim for the same. Temporary custody was awarded to Defendant. In the DVPO hearing, the trial court Judge Mull found that Defendant had initiated the altercation, thus dismissing Defendant’s complaint and granting Plaintiff’s. In 2004, a hearing was conducted for the issues of child custody and support. At that hearing, trial court Judge Sigmon disagreed with Judge Mull, and ordered Defendant have primary physical custody. Plaintiff appealed.
The doctrine of collateral estoppel prevents courts from entering findings of facts or conclusions of law contrary to previous litigation. The issues must be the same. The issue must be raised and litigated. The issues must be material and relevant to the disposition of the prior action, and determination of the issues must be necessary and essential to the resulting judgment. Read on to see what happens when the trial court enters an order contrary to the previous findings of facts and the conclusions of law. Continue reading →
When a marriage ends, many former couples carry hurt, anger, grief, resentment, and hostility towards each other. Some former spouses cannot let go of these feelings even after the divorce. What happens to the children of these marriages when those feelings carry over into their post-separation lives? Continue reading →
Ogden v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 201988, 2019 WL 3162423 (2019)
(a) Facts: Husband and wife were married in 1991 and divorced in 2011. The wife was granted Social Security disability benefits in 2008. She received $36,083 that year and $10,297 in 2010.
On their 2008 tax return, the parties did not report the wife’s benefits. On their 2010 return, the parties reported the benefits but did not pay the tax. Both returns were prepared by the husband. Continue reading →
Contreras v. Comm’r , T.C. Memo. 201912, 2019 WL 980695 (2019)
(a) Facts: Husband and wife had two children. The husband ran a construction business, while the wife was a homemaker. The parties were divorced in 2011.
The husband brought into the marriage a piece of real property called Lot 13, and during the marriage the parties acquired an adjoining parcel, Lot 12. In 2005, the husband conveyed to the wife half of Lot 13, and he built a home upon it. Continue reading →
Hiramanek v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 201692, 2016 WL 2763870 (2016), aff’d, 745 F. App’x 762 (9th Cir. 2018)
(a) Facts: The husband prepared a joint tax return for tax year 2006 and asked the wife to sign it. She refused to sign without reading it, and he permitted her to take a quick glance at the return. She noticed that the return contained a $35,000 casualty loss deduction for a break-in to the couple’s car while they were on vacation in Hawaii. Believing the deduction to be overstated, she refused to sign. The husband threatened and physically abused her for several hours, and she finally made a scribble on the signature line. The husband’s physical abuse was consistent with other physical abuse that the wife had endured during the marriage. Continue reading →
Faust v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 2019 105, 2019 WL 3938725 (2019)
(a) Facts: Husband and wife were divorced in Virginia. The wife was a victim of spousal abuse during the marriage. She was Hispanic; English was not her first language. Continue reading →
Domestic abuse is a serious matter, and one not to be taken lightly. Sometimes, it is almost unimaginable. Mystery abounds. Why does one person hurt someone they love? And, moreover, why does someone who is hurt stay with the abuser? There are four types of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional/psychological, and neglect. The cycle of violence is a repetition of the following: 1) tension building; 2) acute violence; 3) reconciliation/honeymoon; 4) calm. And then, it starts over. In Guilford County, North Carolina, one can start with Family Service of the Piedmont or the Justice Center, both in downtown Greensboro. Continue reading →
Often questions arise when domestic violence involves an assault in North Carolina. I write for the Rhino Times and have for several years. My column is Ask Carolyn. Here is a question and answer on the domestic violence topic in August 2019. Whether it is Greensboro, Asheboro, or any other North Carolina area, these issues of domestic violence are serious and affect all of us. A reader wrote: Continue reading →