Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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Dear Carolyn,

The ex-wife of my new husband is constantly calling my cell phone, following me in my car, and making faces at me at the children’s soccer game.  I get texts from her calling me names.  She even threatened to come to my work. I feel intimidated.  Can I get a 50B for domestic violence and harassment?


Carolyn Answers:

You may be able to get a 50-C, not a 50-B. A 50-B is a domestic violence protection order that can be obtained if you have certain types of relationships with the defendant.  Unfortunately, 50-Bs do not cover relationship problems between a former wife and a new wife.  Typically, 50-B relationships are romantic relationships or parent-child type relationships.

You are eligible to get a 50-C against your husband’s ex-wife.  Essentially, a victim (you) under the 50-C statute:  “Victim.—A person against whom an act of unlawful conduct has been committed by another person not involved in a personal relationship with the person as defined in G.S. 50B-1(b).”  G.S. 50C-1(8).

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by Carolyn Woodruff, North Carolina Family Law Specialist

Opioids are the growing problem in family law. Opioids and domestic violence do not mix and yet yield dreadful consequences. From Greensboro, North Carolina, a 28-year-old woman named Marie Aman will spend many years in prison for the death of a man, who may or may not have been her boyfriend.

The problem? She ran over him, and her opioid addiction played into it.

More tragically, she already has two children. What prospects do these two children have? Life in foster care? Being adopted? Hopefully, in prison she will beat her opioid addiction which is very hard to do, but where will her children be while she is in prison? I don’t know anything about her extended family, and perhaps there are fabulous grandparents out there.

For the life of Dona Auzins, her son is dead. Aman ran over the Auzins’ son after what appears to be a domestic dispute. The story of what happened is unclear, but whatever happened, Auzins is dead. He was found on the street having been hit by the automobile driven by Aman. Her story: She put her boyfriend out of her car to walk home. She planned to drive to her own home, and she says she suddenly say Auzins in front of her. He allegedly shouted: “What are you going to do? Run me over?”

The case came on for trial yesterday in Greensboro, North Carolina. Aman took an Alford plea to second-degree murder, which has a minimum sentence of approximately eight years. The Alford plea means she does not admit guilt. She is the only one alive who was there. What she says happened is that she and Auzins argued. Domestic violence. She saw Auzins later in the road in front of her, and she ran over him crushing the right side of his brain. He was delivered to Moses Cone and was brain dead. That’s when his mother found out.

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Leesa M. Poag, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

In recent legal news, the Mississippi state Senate has passed new legislation that will have citizens of Greensboro and divorce attorneys alike glad that we live in North Carolina.

Unlike North Carolina, Mississippi law recognizes both fault-based and no-fault divorces. If the requirements are not met for a no-fault divorce, you must prove to a judge that your spouse has committed one of the fault grounds enumerated by the Court in order to be granted your divorce.  The new legislation has added two additional grounds for a fault-based divorce.

The only ground permitted for a no-fault divorce in Mississippi is irreconcilable differences. For the Court to grant this no-fault divorce, both parties must agree that there are irreconcilable differences between the parties that prevent them from continuing their relationship as husband and wife, and both parties must agree to seek the divorce.

If the parties don’t agree that they should divorce, the only way for a party to be granted a divorce is by proving to the court that their spouse has committed one of the fault grounds. One side must prove to the court that the other has committed some fault that should allow the party to be granted a divorce.  The most common grounds of fault are typically adultery and desertion.

The new legislation passed by the Senate seeks to add two more grounds – separation and domestic violence.  The separation ground would require that the parties have lived separate and apart for at least two years without the intention to resume the marital relationship.  The domestic violence ground would allow a person to seek a divorce if their spouse has perpetrated cruel and inhumane treatment towards them, including spousal domestic abuse.

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Jennifer A. Crissman, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

            The name “Responsible Individuals List” may sound like an accolade to parents; however, this is a misnomer. For those unfortunate enough to find their family in the midst of an investigation of child abuse, neglect, and dependency the List is likely to be mentioned. It is important that anyone who finds themselves in this situation be aware of what the term means and the ramifications of being on this list.

The Responsible Individuals List and Consequences

            The actual list is comprised of the names of individuals who are found to be responsible for the abuse and serious neglect of a juvenile. The List was created by statute in 2006 in response to federal requirements under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The primary goal of the federal regulation was to create a child abuse registry that was accessible to certain authorized agencies which must determine the fitness of an individual to care for or adopt children.

In 2010, the NC Court of Appeals held that placement on the List impacts an individual’s Constitutionally protected liberty interest. In re W.B.M., 690 S.E.2d 41 (N.C. App. 2010). Placement on the List can prevent an individual from being able to care for children, whether it be through employment, fostering or adopting. Although the List can affect a person’s ability to care for children, the statutes do not address the length of time an individual is placed on the List. The statutes also do not provide for an expungement procedure after a specified period has expired.

The List and Caring for One’s Children

            Although placement on the List can prevent a person from adopting or fostering, the List does not necessarily prohibit an individual from caring for their child. There are currently no cases in North Carolina that address being added to the Responsible Individuals List and then being denied reunification with your children. Further, North Carolina statute, the North Carolina Administrative Code and the Department of Social Services Manuals only address using the Responsible Individuals List for employment purposes or foster/adoption/kinship placement determinations. Currently, it appears the impact of being placed on the Responsible Individuals List is limited to children who are not biologically your own.

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By Amy Setzer, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

Domestic violence doesn’t end when a victim gets “out,” it just switches tactics. The final participant in our Communication Challenge knows that better than anyone.  Day in and day out, their own demons trick them into repeating the battle they’ve already won—only difference is, this time, it’s not in person.

Perpetrator #4: The Appeaser is ruled by fear; usually a victim of physical and/or emotional abuse.

Modus Operandi: Long exchanges in which the abuser attempts to regain ground, while The Appeaser attempts to…well, appease him. These conversations are typically much lengthier and frequently followed by a series of desperate, “emergency” phone calls to her attorney.


Numerous survivors of abuse fall into a communication spiral so predictable, it was easier to make a flow chart than try to describe it narratively. What The Appeaser doesn’t realize is they are living the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. To elude the inevitable onslaught of violent and demeaning texts, e-mails, and voicemails, they fall back on old habits like placating their Ex by soothing and pleading.  Yet by responding, they open the door for just that.  In the end, The Appeaser inadvertently contributes to the creation of the very situation they are trying to avoid.

In many cases, The Appeaser lived for many years in a world where they had no voice, no power, and no self-worth. Their Abuser stole all of that—beat it out of her either literally or figuratively.  Because most victims of abuse suffer forms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, the volatile communication spewing from their estranged spouses triggers a learned response.  This is the case with the Appeaser; it’s how they get manipulated into a trap like the one above.

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CarolynMy husband Dwight prides himself on liking sappy Christmas movies, and he rents a lot of them. Ho-hum, I thought, but I was pleasantly surprised by the many social messages in Paper Angel.  The movie starts with Mom (Lynn Brandt) moving far away from Dad with her two children—Sara and Thomas. Sara is younger than Thomas. While the movie doesn’t illustrate domestic violence, Mom has a black eye, and you know what happened.  Dad loves nothing but his beer and his sports on television, and while Dad is oblivious to everyone and everything that his narcissistic soul in not entrenched in, Mom quietly gets the two children in the car and escapes with them without any of their belongings.  Mom was right to leave.

Mom, Thomas, and Sara take up residence in the “No Name City”, where life is meager and hard. Mom worked at a diner, and her boss was not very thoughtful.  The living digs were adequate, and the basketball goal in the driveway was makeshift from a bucket.  Thomas practiced basketball a lot, and he was quite good, which starts the bullying by the high school “King” of basketball.  I wonder if most bullies are afraid of something because the bully seemed afraid of losing his position as the star basketball player, and the prettiest girl in the high school just ignored him.

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News Release

by Jon Csuka, Woodruff Family Law Group

Take note that Guilford County is participating in a pilot program with regard to the e-filing of 50-Bs/DVPO. We are the first county in the State to put these procedures into place.

All 50-B complaints will be E-filed from the Family Justice Center located at 201 S. Greene St., 2nd Floor, Greensboro, NC 27401, (336) 641-SAFE (7233). I was able to go to the FJC for the grand opening. If you have an opportunity to go over and get a tour it would be a good thing – it will be a tremendous resource for victims of domestic violence. It is located directly across the large courtyard in front of the main entrance of the Courthouse on Greene Street.

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