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 →
Mejia v. Mejia, No.COA19-438 (May 2020).
In North Carolina, we typically see two types of agreements in the realm of marriage and divorce. First is the Prenuptial Agreement; the second is the Separation Agreement. Separation agreements often contain provisions that resolve issues of child support, alimony, child custody, and distribution of marital property. At times, one party may be strong-armed into signing an agreement. In that case, the party may claim Duress. Below, we discuss a case in which a Husband claimed Duress to prevent enforcement of a Separation Agreement. 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 →
With many North Carolina families forced to spend more time together as a result of lockdowns or unemployment from COVID-19, some couples are finding they no longer want to be married. Spouses are experiencing fear of being exposed to COVID, fighting over finances, and many other minor issues. If you find yourself in this situation, one of the first steps in the divorce process is to legally separate from your spouse. If you are not sure of how to become legally separated, seek the advice of a family law attorney. Continue reading →
We’ve all seen videos such as this one on the highly addictive TikTok app depicting parents dropping their kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to achieve some much needed alone time. Ever since the Piedmont Triad began experiencing the monumental effects of COVID-19 in early March, both kids and parents alike are eager to experience a change of scenery from the all too familiar rooms of their own home. However, staying at home has become the new norm. It appears we will have ample time to become even more acquainted with our home offices as Guilford County Schools recently announced the 2020-2021 academic year will begin with remote learning through at least October 20, 2020. Continue reading →
Steele v. Steele, 36 N.C.App. 601 (1978).
In North Carolina and nationwide, character evidence is generally inadmissible in civil trials. Evidence of character and past conduct is not indicative of future conduct and cannot be used to prove that a party acted or will act in conformity with that character trait or past conduct (save for some exceptions). But in a trial for custody, can the court admit evidence of one parent’s character and past acts to show they are better suited to be the custodial parent? In the case below, the appeal court held that a trial court must make findings as follows:
- Facts: Mother and Father had a claim and hearing on child custody, among other matters. The child custody order as drafted by the trial court judge was deficient in findings of fact and conclusions of law. Mother actually conceded that indeed that order was deficient and joined in the appeal seeking remand and further findings.
In North Carolina, a parent can lose custody over their minor children to the children’s grandparents. One way this can happen is by Order of the Court in a child custody proceeding. Child custody is never permanent, and below we discuss a way for parents to regain custody by motion to the Court. Continue reading →
Davis v. Davis, 748 S.E.2d 594 (N.C. App. 2013)
Here we examine a North Carolina Court of Appeals case where the Defendant appealed the trial court denial of a motion to modify custody and a motion to hold the Plaintiff in contempt of court. For this article, we will focus only on the denial of the Motion for Contempt. Continue reading →
In re C.V.D.C. and C.D.C., _______NC________ (2020).
In North Carolina, for a Termination of Parental Rights petition to succeed, a set of factors set out in N.C.G.S section 7B-1110(a) must be weighed by the court. If the balance of those factors favors termination, the trial court has discretion to do so for the best interests of the child. But does the court need to write down those specific findings? And what if you wanted to appeal their decision? Below, we discuss a case that addresses the manner in which appellate courts review such decisions of the lower courts, and whether or not a court is required to make written findings. Continue reading →
Padilla v. Whitley De Padilla, COA19-478 (2020) (unpublished).
Child custody orders are modifiable. In order to do so, the party seeking a modification must show a substantial change from the circumstances found in previous order that warrant the modification. It may seem obvious that a diminishment in the custodial parent’s life may meet that threshold. But below, we discuss a case where improvements in the noncustodial parent’s life warranted a modification in his favor, granting him more time with his kids and more decision-making abilities. Continue reading →