Articles Posted in In The News

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 →

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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 →

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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.”

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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 →

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IMG_1275By Joshua Scott Chilton, Legal Assistant & Receptionist, Woodruff Family Law Group

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America made a ruling in a case known as Obergefell v. Hodges which changed the definition of what marriage was in our country. Despite the arguments against it, it was no longer defined simply as the union between man and woman; it was now a union between any two people who wished to come together and love one another. As a gay man, I was overcome with pride and joy that people like me could now marry those they loved and experience what marriage had to offer, from the joy of a wedding to the drudgery of joint taxes and to the sorrow of a hospital.

However, despite the ruling, I knew that it was a close battle. It was a 5 to 4 vote, and that meant that the push for equality wasn’t over yet; there were and still are many in our country who believe that marriage should be between only a man and a woman rather than any definition other than what is viewed as “traditional”. There is still a struggle for those in the LGBTQA+ community outside of the realm of marriage as well; in our state of North Carolina, Governor McCrory was quick to issue a statewide ban on Transgender individuals entering restrooms or locker rooms they feel comfortable in after the Charlotte lawmakers approved city law to allow such.

The most recent attack on the LGBTQA+ community didn’t come from restrictive legislation, however. It didn’t come from politicians or protestors. It didn’t come in the form of a hateful hashtag on Twitter. It didn’t come from a county clerk refusing to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling. It came in the form of one man with an assault rifle…

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By Kristina Pisano, Blog Writer, Woodruff Family Law Group

Dad and I 2014

I am just like my Father: I have come to this realization as I get older. From the red hair, the red-headed temper and the overly kind and generous heart; I thank my father. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I realized how much I am like him. Quiet at times, especially around new people; he becomes the life of the party once he is around his people. I realized that in my mid-twenties I was the same way. Turning junk into treasure, an eye for color and design and the overwhelming and sometimes heavy load of putting everyone else’s needs and worries before myself is me and my father. He taught me how to drive the wide open roads respectfully in the Pennsylvania Mountains and the unique connection you can make with a four-legged friend. I owe my Dad the world and so much more. How will you spend Father’s Day with your Dad this year?

On Father’s Day weekend both the Greensboro Grasshoppers and the Winston-Salem Dash have home games. Nothing could be better than watching the great American pastime, baseball. Grab some hot dogs, a cold drink and of course a bag of peanuts and reminisce of playing catch in the backyard.

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TinaBy Tina Ray, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

Why? With the many shootings lately, whether it be a single shooting or a mass killing, that’s the question always asked when these terrible, horrific, events happen.  People spend too much time trying to answer that question.  The only person that knows the answer is the killer.   What do they say?  Usually nothing.  Either they have been shot by police, have taken their own life or are arrested and in custody.

We all know someone that could be that person. You may not realize it.  It could be your cousin, your brother’s college roommate, the bagger at the grocery store.  Everyone has met that person that triggers that thought in the back of your mind…could he or she snap and come into work with a gun and just start shooting?  Do you think people think that about you at times?  Of course not, you’re normal, you just have bad days like everyone.  No, you don’t agree with everyone else’s beliefs or lifestyles, but you would never kill someone over it.

Think about it. When you do, it makes you wonder doesn’t it?  I know sometimes I get so furious that I feel like punching someone, but could I come in, guns blazing and start shooting?  No. I don’t think so.  I don’t own a gun and I’m admittedly a little afraid of them.

When family and friends of the killer are asked after these killings, they are often surprised and say they would have never believed this could happen. How could their loved one have done this?  They wouldn’t take anyone else’s life.  They are just a normal person.  What is normal?  Everyone has demons that they need to exorcise and their own way of thinking.  Unfortunately, lately, it seems like humans are turning toward violence as a way to deal with their thoughts and disagreements with society.

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