Let’s suppose that you provided funds, checks, cash, or other payments to your ex since separation. You have a claim pending for equitable distribution, which seeks to divide your marital property. But court is slow and it can take some time for the court to reach your case. When it does, how should the court treat those payments you made? Were they gifts, or were they something the court ought to consider in equitable distribution? Continue reading →
Suozzo v. Suozzo, 2022-NCCOA-620.
Facts: Plaintiff wife and Defendant husband entered into a separation agreement wherein Defendant was to pay Plaintiff $200,000 in monthly installments over 240 months. This arrangement began in March 2006 and would terminate in March of 2026. For the first 18-36 months, Defendant made the monthly payment. Sometime in 2008, Defendant stopped making those payments. Plaintiff chose to file a breach of contract claim against Defendant but not until 2019, more than ten years since Defendant stopped paying. The trial court awarded Plaintiff $100,789 in damages, calculated by granting only the missed payments due within three years of the commencement of Plaintiff’s action—as any unpaid installments due prior to February 2016 were barred by the statute of limitations—and the payments that became due while the action was pending through judgment. Defendant appealed. Continue reading →
Hill v. Durrett, 2022-NCCOA-460.
Facts: Plaintiff and Defendant were married in a friend’s backyard in 2015, and just 14 months later the couple separated. The backyard ceremony was officiated by a Ms. Plante, who was a Reiki master known as Azera Moonhawk. Ms. Plante was Defendant’s friend and was a minister of the Universal Life Church but was not authorized to perform weddings. Plaintiff eventually filed a divorce and equitable distribution action. Plaintiff also sought to have the marriage annulled based on Ms. Plante’s insufficient ordination. Plaintiff did not survive the proceedings and died before they were concluded; his estate carried on with the annulment. Defendant was the one who arranged the entire backyard extravaganza. She was the one who was good friends with Plante/Moonhawk. She was the one who told Plaintiff that Plante was qualified to perform the ceremony. She was the one who confirmed with Plante whether she could perform the ceremony. The trial court annulled. Defendant appealed.
Issue: Was the Plaintiff (his estate) equitably estopped from seeking an annulment?
During a stage presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week, Olivia Wilde was handed a yellow envelope marked “Personal and Confidential.” Wilde was discussing her upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling when the ordeal transpired, confusing both Wilde and the audience. Out of curiosity, she opened the envelope to see what was inside. After noting the contents, Wilde continued with her presentation. Later, sources confirmed that the envelope contained legal papers pertaining to her children with ex-fiancé Jason Sudeikis.
Wayne Hopper, Legal Assistant
King v. Huizar (In re Huizar), 609 BR 482
Only a handful of states still recognize alienation of affection and criminal conversation as actionable torts. North Carolina is one of those states. These claims have their roots in old English law, where a man could essentially sue for the “theft” of his wife. Modern Alienation of Affection/Criminal Conversation laws allow spouses of either gender to bring a suit.
While similar in spirit, these two torts differ in what they assert. In an alienation of affection claim, one spouse is seeking damages against a third party for wrongful acts that interfered with the marital relationship, thus depriving them of the love and affection of their spouse. They are sometimes colloquially referred to as “homewrecker” laws or “heartbalm” torts. On the other hand, criminal conversation refers specifically to adulterous, extramarital sexual acts between the Plaintiff’s spouse and a third party. Continue reading →
Wooten v. Wooten, III, 2022-NCCOA-121, (unpublished).
Here in North Carolina, separation agreements are treated the same as contracts. This means the parties can be more flexible with their terms and agreements, not necessarily confined to the stricter terms that a court order would typically proscribe. One such provision is the support of children in their higher education endeavors. Continue reading →
Salvadore v. Salvadore, 2021-NCCOA-680 (2021 unpublished)
- Facts: Wife and Husband married in 1989. During their marriage, Husband would frequently change his job. Husband had a peculiar habit every time he changed jobs that required relocation to another state. He would stay in hotels and campgrounds in the new state while Wife would stay at the marital residence at the old state. Husband would also regularly return to the marital residence on weekends. This would continue until the couple bought a new home in the new state. When Husband accepted a new job in New York, he continued this habit. However, before he left, he asked for a separation on April 17, 2017. But true to habit, he stayed in hotels in campgrounds in New York, while returning to the marital residence in North Carolina on weekends. This happened until July 16, 2017—the last night he spent in the marital residence with Wife. As part of his appeal of an equitable distribution order, he argued that the date of separation should have been April 2017, not the July 2017 date.
In the same vein as a previous post about starting new holiday traditions after separation, here are some fun ways Christmas is celebrated in other countries!
Japan: Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Christmas dinner of champions. Thanks to a marketing campaign in the mid-1970s, Japanese children associate the holiday with KFC. It is complete with the Colonel in Santa getups, themed containers for chicken and drinks, and a special Christmas combo bucket complete with all the secret spice chicken, salad, and cake. The lines get so busy that customers may wait up to two hours to get a bucket to go. Appreciation of food has no borders, and there is no reason why fried chicken can’t be the centerpiece to the Christmas dinner (except maybe health reasons).
The Netherlands: clogs for Christmas. Sinterklaas is the Santa analog over in the Dutch part of the world. He is dressed in red, has a long white beard, and keeps creepy tabs on the children that have been good and those that have been bad. But instead of reindeer and sleighs, he arrives on a boat…from Spain. The fun part for any kid will always be presents. In the Netherlands, children will leave their shoes (or clogs) next to the fireplace or stove and awake to find gifts and treats stuffed therein. Good luck getting a PS5 to fit in a shoe. (Maybe the Dutch have it all figured out.)
It is no secret that millennials often get a bad rap. As one of the largest generations in history, their influence in the world is far-reaching. Growing up in rapidly changing times has meant that millennials have redefined many aspects of life, with priorities and expectations drastically different from previous generations. As a result, millennials have successfully put their spin on prenuptial agreements and are looking at this important pre-marital contract through a different lens. Continue reading →
Recently, I have been giving thought to how increases in separate property values through the active work of a spouse is considered during equitable distribution. As a refresh, the goal of a trial court in divorce is to classify all property owned on the date of separation, value it, and then distribute it between the parties; only marital property is distributed. Generally, increases in value to separate property during the course of a marriage are still separate property. However, the analysis does not end there. Continue reading →