A common question that often asked during consultations and discussions between attorneys and potential or current clients is: Can I date during my divorce case? The answer depends on the specific facts of your case. Factors to consider include: Are you separated; how long have you been separated; are there minor children affected by dating; have martial funds been used to support the new relationship; and, probably most importantly, when did you start seeing this new person? Continue reading →
In Jordao, the North Carolina Court of Appeals reviewed N.C.G.S. § 50-13.2 and how the statute requires the trial court to evaluate all relevant factors, including domestic violence in determining if custody and visitation is in the best interest of a child. Continue reading →
Toussaint v. King, COA19-851 (2020) (unpublished).
In North Carolina, a court has the ability to incarcerate a party for not following a court order. This procedure is called civil contempt. In order to send a party to jail for noncompliance, the court first must find specific facts. For one case of civil contempt for failure to make child support payments, the court did incarcerate the father. 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.
We all love a good Mulan-esque warrior story with a happy ending. Family law attorneys have seen it all and are the warriors and champions of family law related issues. Delving into the chaotic family disputes that clients present daily means almost nothing could come as a surprise. Yet, when a Kansas man challenged his Iowa ex-wife to a trial by sword fight to settle their child custody dispute, it appeared that there may indeed be something new under the sun.
Devine v. Devine, (No. COA19-913) (unpublished)
Here in Greensboro, business owners are not immune to unhappy marriages. Divorces can be long and complicated messes, especially when the fortunes of the family rest upon the fortunes of the business. Child support and alimony are based partly on the income and expenses of the parties going through divorce. In the case below, we discuss how one court, which presumably lacked business experience, incorrectly calculated a party’s income. Continue reading →
All too often in the divorce process, couples become so focused on dividing marital assets, locating funds, and getting back at the spouse that has wronged them that their focus on the most critical part of their marriage gets overlooked. Children, the one part of the couple’s marriage that should be the central focus, get lost. Most people have heard that children are resilient, they bounce back quickly, and they adapt to change well. While all of those can be true, nothing in the equation of divorce is the fault of a child, and parents should remember that children have feelings too. Continue reading →
School starts soon, and parents in the Piedmont Triad area are understandably worried about their children’s exposure to COVID-19. Do I send my child back to the classroom, home school them, or opt for online classes? Fears over the lack of social distancing, schools enforcing mask policies of older students, and not requiring mask wearing for younger children are just a few of the concerns. Many parents’ fears, when faced with the threat of exposure and further spread of COVID, are only made worse when the parents are no longer together and cannot agree on how to address the situation. If you find yourself dealing with whether your children should return to school, with or without a court-ordered custody order in place, an experienced family law attorney can assist you. Continue reading →
The rules of Jenga are simple. First, you stack the 54 wooden blocks to create a tower; then, you slowly begin removing blocks from the tower and move them to the top of the tower. The player who removes a block from the tower, causing it to topple over, loses the game. Practicing family law is akin to playing a game of Jenga. In Jenga, the tower structure continually evolves throughout the game. Sure, there may be a gap in the tower here and there as blocks are removed, but the game’s primary goal is despite the gaps, the players work to keep the tower intact. Quite often in family law the established nuclear familial unit is changing. Gaps become evident with a separation or divorce as one household evolves into two. Despite these changes, family law attorneys strive to counsel clients to embrace the gaps and work to create a new normal in the children’s best interests without ultimately toppling over. Yet, just as in Jenga, sometimes toppling over is inevitable. Luckily, many resources are available for clients who find themselves in need of rebuilding their tower. Continue reading →
If you plan to file a child custody action in North Carolina, you will be required to participate in a Custody Mediation Program. Each district in North Carolina has specific operational procedures laid out in their local rules, and the rules for each county can be viewed online at www.NCcourts.gov. Continue reading →