Articles Posted in Divorce

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In a divorce that includes a retirement plan, a domestic relations order (DRO) is issued by the state court to assign benefits from the employer to another person (usually the employee’s spouse, known as the alternate payee). The retirement plan that administers these benefits must receive this order. Certain federal requirements must be met and it is up to the plan to determine if the order meets them. If the order meets the requirements, it then becomes a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). In the event that the order gets denied, the state court may modify the order to appease the plan’s objections. An appeal to a federal or state court may be made regarding the plan’s decision to qualify the DRO. The case below discusses an issue regarding a QDRO and if a wife is entitled to the benefits of their deceased ex-spouse. Continue reading →

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As family law attorneys, we are regularly asked by clients if they can record their spouse. In fact, in some cases, they are asking if we want a copy of the recording that they have already made. Yes, these recordings can possibly prove something was said or not said; there is the ability to corroborate as well. But admissibility of recordings is complex and a wholly separate area of law. Today, we discuss whether certain recordings are even legal and, depending on the answer to that question, whether your attorney can even listen to or view the recording. Continue reading →

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Divorce can be stressful.  The process of dividing property that has accumulated between you and your ex-spouse is a given.  Questions regarding how you will split all that you have shared – the marital residence, cars, custodial time with the children – are all commonplace questions individuals ask themselves when going through a divorce.  However, another issue has become increasingly commonplace among separating couples, and that is the question of how custody of family pets will be arranged.  As people begin increasingly to refer to pets as their “fur babies,” family pets are slowly becoming a contentious topic for many divorcing couples. Continue reading →

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World Mental Health Day helps raise mental health awareness and promotes proactive measures individuals can take to care for their mental health.  World Mental Health Day acknowledges the stigma around mental health and is working to alleviate it. Focusing on mental health and allowing individuals to have conversations about their mental health can make a huge difference. Continue reading →

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ZIMMERMAN V. ZIMMERMAN 2021-NCCOA-485

Previously, we have written about the use of stipulations in a case to maximize efficiency and what is required in an oral stipulation in the context of Equitable Distribution. (Our courts have held, for an oral stipulation on Equitable Distribution to be valid, that the parties must be read the terms of the stipulation and questioned as to whether they understand the legal effect of the agreement and then agree. McIntosh v. McIntosh, 328 S.E.2d 600, 74 N.C. App. 554 (N.C. App. 1985)). Continue reading →

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October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Dogs are our best friends. Some seem to be made entirely of boundless energy and unconditional love. Studies have shown that in the presence of our four-legged friends, stress lowers, our happiness-promoting hormones increase, our blood pressure lowers, and our self-esteem increases. During a particularly messy divorce and separation, a furry companion could be the perfect way to cope with the stress. Take note that pet ownership, even with all the mental benefits, is a serious commitment. Do get a dog, but only if you are serious about the responsibilities of ownership. Continue reading →

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North Carolina will soon decide whether to make gambling on sports legal. There are two bills, one in the North Carolina House, the other in the Senate. House Bill 631 of the 2021 Session is a bill to authorize and regulate sports wagering. Senate Bill 688 looks to be a mirror of the House Bill. In short, these bills would make wagering on professional sports legal in North Carolina. The operators of any sports betting business will be allowed to utilize cryptocurrencies as wagers or payments, meaning consumers can deposit cryptos in their accounts. The bills will define these cryptos as “cash equivalents.” These are assets convertible to cash for use in connection with authorized sports wagering. The legislation’s inclusion of cryptocurrencies is easily the most interesting element. The use of these virtual currencies could propel the value and usefulness of the payment medium even further. Continue reading →

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Stewart v. Shipley, 825 S.E.2d 684, 264 N.C.App. 241 (N.C. App. 2019)

You might imagine your civil court case as a game. All games have rules, and the handbook that tells you how to play the game is the Rules of Civil Procedure. And you can’t break the rules without consequences. The rules exist in a game to make things fair and efficient and ordinary. In this way, the Rules of Civil Procedure promotes fairness, efficiency, and order. Below is a case that talks about one of those rules. 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 →