Articles Posted in In The News

Published on:

By: Carolyn J. Woodruff, attorney

While nothing in this article should be viewed to condone the horrific acts of Christopher Lee Neal, age 42, who shot at a social services worker after children were taken from his home, the event should be a wake up call for the Department of Social Services (DSS). Apparently this Reidsville man targeted at least two social services employees that had been working on his child custody case. He shot at one of the social workers through her car window in Burlington. According to news reports, she was not injured. He was later apprehended in Myrtle Beach.

Let’s face it. Taking away a child is serious business and emotionally drenching, and should only be done by DSS with all the proper protocols, which involve either having law enforcement or a Juvenile Judge.   Unfortunately, DSS is many instances is acting outside the bounds of the law and the Constitution, and they do not follow proper protocol regarding the removal of children, in allegedly dangerous situations, from homes. This makes a parent mad.

DSS is not law enforcement, and DSS is not a court of law. DSS is an agency that MUST apply to the Juvenile Court for the authority for search and seizure of children. DSS can assess the danger and apply to the Juvenile Court, but DSS is not permitted to “search and seize” children based on its own safety assessment. This seizure is improper. While I like Sheriff Page, his statement if reported accurately is both incorrect and not in keeping with the US Constitution. He reportedly said in a Press Conference, ‘Child Protective Services were investigating a case…During the process in their job, sometimes they have to remove children from the home because of neglect and abuse.” No, this is not correct. DSS can investigate, and DSS can apply to the court to obtain an order to remove the child, but DSS cannot do this removal simply because DSS thinks it should. To do so is unconstitutional search and seizure.

Continue reading →

Published on:

thumbnail_backbendOn June 8, Dance Legends from Russia, USA, Italy, South Africa, Denmark, and Azerbaijan will perform at the State Kremlin Palace, Moscow, Russia in “Stellar Duo.”

Carolyn Woodruff, known as the Dancing Divorce Attorney, will represent the USA for the second year in Moscow, Russia in the “Stellar Duo” with partner, Alosha Anatoliy (from Ukraine, now US citizen). The two have been dancing together since 2006 and are the reigning United States Pro-Am Show Dance Champions. The two have also won several titles for themselves in the last 10 years including; Gold Medalists at the 2016 United States Dancesport Championship, Fred Astaire National Dance Championship in both Smooth and Cabaret, Best of the Best in Gold Show dance at the Millennium Dancesport Championship, and were featured on Simon Fuller’s Ballroom Blitz, which played in over 10 countries.

“Alosha and I are so privileged to be representing the United States for the second time in Moscow. We understand what an honor it is to be included in “Stellar Duo” with all this world turmoil between the United States of America and Russia. We believe that Art and Dance will rise above the political unrest,” says Woodruff, owner of Woodruff Family Law Group, Greensboro, North Carolina. 

I feel very honored and excited to be part of this very special event and share the Mystery of Masquerade,” says Alosha Anatoliy, owner of Fred Astaire Greensboro.

Carolyn and Alosha’s beloved choreographer, Taliat Tarsinov, who is sought after worldwide, is the event’s Artistic Director.

“It is such a privilege to be the Artistic Director of “Stellar Duo” and to be able to bring the world’s best ballroom dance couples together for one exciting evening in Moscow at the beautiful Kremlin Palace,” says Tarsinov.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Leesa M. Poag, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

When a couple decides to separate and end their marriage, there are often other issues that must be resolved along with the divorce.  Family law attorneys in North Carolina often include claims for issues such as custody of the children and division of the marital property along with the divorce claim.  But an issue that has recently become more and more prevalent is one that falls somewhere between the custody and property division issues – when two people separate, which spouse gets to keep the family pet?

While the question of who will keep the pets is a common one in many cases, it has proven to be especially contentious in cases where a couple has no children, or the children are grown up and are no longer in the home.  One can understand how this situation can lead to a party having a stronger than normal bond with the pet, sometimes even treating the pet as their child.  (And hey, you don’t have to pay to send Rover to college!)

Traditionally, courts have viewed pets as personal property of the parties.  The typical approach to dividing personal property is a three step process which includes first classifying the property (either separate or marital), next, valuing the property as of the date of the parties’ separation, and finally making a distribution of the property between the parties.  While this approach might be simple when it comes to your sofa, it is proving to be a much more difficult question when it comes to your Schnauzer.  How does one place a value on a pet?  Should the court value your family dog at the amount that you paid for him, or should the sentimental value that the dog now has as a member of the family be considered?  And if the parties can’t agree as to who should keep the pet, how does a judge, who is unfamiliar with the parties or the animal, make such a determination?

Continue reading →

Published on:

Dana M. Horlick, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

Whenever you become a party to a lawsuit, whether you are the Plaintiff or the Defendant, there are deadlines imposed by the Court, by statute, and by the Rules of Civil Procedure that are important to follow. There are deadlines whether you are in Guilford County, North Carolina or Fulton County, Georgia. Missing such a deadline could severely impact your rights.

For a real life celebrity example, let’s look at Phaedra Parks – star of Real Housewives of Atlanta – and her jailed husband, Apollo Nida. The couple were married in 2009 and separated in 2014.

On December 1st of this year, Apollo Nida filed a Complaint against Phaedra Parks, seeking a divorce, along with joint legal custody of the minor children and an equitable division of all of the personal property, assets, and marital debts.

However, back in November of this year, the parties were granted a divorce, after Nida failed to respond to Parks’ divorce petition. Parks filed for divorce in March of 2015 and subsequently was divorced in November. The judge also awarded Parks custody of the parties’ two children. Nida will have visitation rights once he completes the eight-year prison sentence he is currently serving for bank fraud and identity theft.

Now consider if this situation happened here in Guilford County. Once the parties remain separated for one year, either of the parties can file for divorce, which Parks does. Once the Plaintiff has effectuated service of the divorce complaint on the Defendant, the Defendant has 30 days to respond. The 30-day deadline is according to the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. To extend this deadline, the Defendant can file a Motion for Extension of Time and receive an extension, as long as the deadline has not already passed. Now in the case of Parks and Nida, Nida never filed an Answer and never sought an extension of time.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Jennifer A. Crissman, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

           JAC-200x300 I must confess, as a family law attorney I cannot help reading about celebrity relationships. I find that even though it feels like celebrities are untouchable and have very different lives than our own when a celebrity relationship ends the same scenarios arise. Separation and divorce are the great equalizers, and no one is immune. If you have followed the recent celebrity news, you may have seen that Brad Pitt filed a motion this month asking the court in California for an emergency hearing on sealing the court file containing the details of his separation from Angelina Jolie. His argument was that he wanted to protect the couple’s six children from intense worldwide scrutiny.

The court denied his request for an emergency hearing, but there will be a hearing in January on whether to seal the file. As an observer, you may wonder why the court would not grant an emergency hearing on such a motion. It seems like a reasonable request; a parent urgently wants to protect his children’s privacy from nosy reporters, paparazzi, and onlookers. However, this is not enough for the court to grant an emergency hearing or to seal a file.

With regards to sealing a file, the public has the right to view court records which arises under both the common law and the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The rationale for this right is that the public monitoring of the judiciary is key to a functioning democracy. If judges were able to seal court files and close courtrooms freely, the public would have no way of monitoring the behavior of the judicial branch. Although the general presumption is that court records are open for public inspection and viewing, there are some ways to get a court file or at least portions sealed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

s.andrew headshotBy Sarah Andrew, Blog Writer, Woodruff Family Law Group

Everyone knows that the best thing about Halloween—besides the mountain of free candy—is the opportunity to transform, at least for the night, into a superhero or a Disney princess or a delightfully spooky creature. (Or, if your parents are at all like mine, into one-half of old-timey comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, with a bowler hat, a fake mustache, and a pillow stuffed under your button-down.) With the exception of nine-year-old me, who wasn’t thrilled to traipse through her Greensboro neighborhood as a middle-aged man, most kids would jump at a second chance to wear their costumes and celebrate all over again.

But what if you’re the parent whose custody begins a day or two after trick-or-treating ends? Ringing doorbells after November 1 is more likely to lead to dark porch lights and raised eyebrows than to another heaping bucketful of chocolate, and most community events are limited to Halloween itself. Here are some ideas for conjuring up a little ghoulish magic on other nights of the year.

Roll up your sleeves. Everyone’s favorite candy is about to go on sale, so stock up on as many variety packs as you can carry. Fun-size chocolate bars are perfect for baking into cupcakes, or for simply popping back while you wait for the timer to go off. If you don’t trust your kids—or yourself—around an oven, you can opt for a perennial favorite: dirt cups. What’s more fun than crushing a bag of Oreos with a rolling pin? If you’re feeling adventurous, make a full-sized dirt pie. And, of course, try to trick everyone into eating at least a little something healthy by insisting that the peeled grapes are actually eyeballs.

Continue reading →

Published on:

TinaBy Tina Ray, Legal Assistant

Let me preface this by saying: I am a white woman who lives in Greensboro, NC.  I have not been, nor will I ever be an African American or any other race.  But, above all I am an American, a human, a person with feelings, opinions and values.   I respect the fact that other AMERICANS have set out to build lives for themselves, build their businesses and good lives for their families.

Things don’t always go the way we think they should. People don’t always act the way that we believe they should act.  The ones that are supposed to protect us sometimes make mistakes.  Sometimes, the wrong people are in positions of authority.  Maybe they instinctually make a fatal mistake.  Maybe it’s not a mistake; maybe they shouldn’t be in the position that they are in. This can and does happen to people of all colors, races and creeds.  When this does happen, does it automatically give Americans permission to tear apart what other Americans have built?  How does this prove a point?  How does it make us any better than the act that we are protesting?

Obviously, I have a lot of questions.

I grew up believing that my friends, no matter what color, were my friends. I didn’t think about not playing with someone because they were different.  It was based even then on how they treated me.  As I got older, I began to realize that some people didn’t necessarily think that way.  However, it went both ways then, and still does now.  It became obvious that some people were raised, both black and white, thinking that there was a difference because of skin color.  It’s still up to you to make the decisions that you make and treat people the way you treat them.  Don’t blame it on others. Continue reading →

Published on:

Diana WestrickDiana Westrick, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

If you have happened upon your browser’s home screen, Facebook, Twitter, or any news outlet, you have already been bombarded with the news that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.

What? How?  Why?  Say it isn’t so!

While you have to love the efforts of gossip sites to always have the “inside scoop,” the currently available details are truly hearsay.  Unfortunately, that does not stop every proceeding media outlet to quote these unconfirmed theories as if they were fact.  While I am not one to indulge in celebrity news, I do have an amazement with how celebrities and their lives are portrayed to us “ordinary” folks.  In situations such as celebrity breakups and divorce, it may surprise you that I actually pity these people; they are going through a situation that is difficult-by-nature, but they also have to worry about their public image and how the media will portray them.  Despite what the truth of the situation may be, people believe what the news and magazines tell them.

Any reasonable person most likely already knows that gossip should be taken with a grain of salt.  However, how often do we develop biases solely based on what someone told us?  Keeping that in mind, I can all but guarantee this divorce is going to be pinned onto Brad Pitt.  Most outlets are already stating the claim that Angelina filed in order to keep the “health” of her family intact; she did not agree with Brad’s parenting style, and she wants full custody while he gets only visitation.  With only those details available, where does your mind go about his parenting?

No, I’m not going to use this blog as a means of venting my frustration with celebrity politics.  Rather, I am going to turn it over to you, Triad: I urge you to consider how gossip has impacted (for better or worse) your relationships with your family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.  Are you able to identify these different types of situations?

EXAMPLE #1 Continue reading →

Published on:

By Diana Westrick, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

Diana WestrickWhile life in the Triad is far from the Hollywood experience, celebrities have a way of infiltrating our lives in such a way that allows us to live vicariously through them. Key in point, how many of you have yelled at your television when an episode of your favorite reality show ends on a cliffhanger?

Said in your most super-dramatic voice:

“How will I ever function through life if I can’t watch how >input celebrity name here< lives theirs?”

For those believing that a celebrity’s life experiences are just like those of the “lay” people, I hate to ground your illusion, but it is all scripted.  Sure, there may be some relatable moments, but keep in mind that they have a team of professionals whose sole task is to ensure their client maintain a positive media image.  Real things happen to celebrities, but you only get to see the pretty, shiny surface.

With all of that said, I am going to be completely contradictory and enact that you take note of and partake in some celebrity behavior, particularly when it comes to your divorce dealings. Have you ever noticed that, when asked about their impending divorce, celebrities always make a statement such as “we have together come to the difficult decision to split up . . . We have and will continue to have much respect for one another . . . Please respect our privacy during this time.”

Continue reading →

Published on:

By Kristina Pisano, Blog Writer, Woodruff Family Law Group

Fourth of July, a day of grilled hot dogs, pool parties, and fireworks. I always look forward to this fun summer holiday both because of the traditions I have enjoyed with family growing up to now enjoying new celebrations with friends as I get older. The Triad area offers many activities to enjoy with your friends and family on this day of America’s independence.

Fun Fourth Festival If you have not yet been to downtown Greensboro to experience the Fun Fourth Festival, you need to make plans to do it! Every year it grows bigger and bigger, and I always think there is no way they can do more, but they do. Start the festivities off on July 3 the Freedom Run 10K, or for those who don’t feel like running quite so far, the Firecracker Road Race is only a mile. Then the big show starts at 8:00 pm with the Sleeping Booty Band at the Elm Street & McGee Street Lot. Then on the 4th itself, the festival starts at 2:00. There are several bands, craft and food vendors, community group presentations, kid games and more. Of course, it wouldn’t be 4th of July without patriotic music from the Trombone Shout Band, and the City of Greensboro Philharmonia, followed by a spectacular firework show. The best part about the Fun Fourth Festival is that it is a free event and family friendly.

Independence Day Celebration at Old Salem What better way to celebrate America’s Independence than to spend the day at Old Salem. Bring the family to see how the Moravians lived in the 18th century. They will have hands-on demonstrations and activities for kids of all ages. Old Salem is open from 9:30 am-4:30 pm and what is especially unique about this celebration is all guest will be invited to Salem Square to see how the first 4th of July was commemorated by the Moravians. Of course, there will be live patriotic music playing all afternoon to keep you in the spirit of the holiday. Continue reading →