The ongoing coronavirus pandemic can add another disturbing statistic: domestic violence incidents have increased in North Carolina. Isolation and lockdowns likely have exacerbated conditions that may have been already present in a rocky relationship. Financial woes and job loss have only increased the stress. For some, these circumstances amounted to the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. 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 →
Hi, Ms. Carolyn
My wife and I need some advice. In 2009, we had to see a judge in a matter of a 50B taken out by my stepson’s father based upon alleged child abuse. The 50B judge said that we would revisit the 50B issue after DSS finished their investigation, but it was never resolved. The father of my stepson let him stay with us after it happened. We waited a month, and the father’s lawyer withdrew. The Judge dropped the 50B case due to the father not moving forward with the 50B. Continue reading →
My wife keeps threatening me with a 50B. We do argue, but I have never laid a hand on her or even threatened her. She says in court it will be her word against mine. Is there anything I can do to protect myself? I don’t want to go to jail.
I have a domestic violence protective order, but the one year expires next month. I am still afraid of her. She came at me with a knife, but luckily, I was able to get away. She still posts statements on Facebook that let me know she is still angry with me. What do I do for protection when the one year is up?
I want my guns back. My ex-wife filed a 50B for domestic violence that never happened, and the judge took my guns away. The incident, she fabricated, didn’t even involve a gun. The year is up, so how do I get my guns back?