Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Does adultery affect my divorce case?”


Stars of the TLC reality show “Sister Wives” can return to their home state of Utah and live together without the fear of prosecution by the State for polygamy. Stars Kody Brown, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn Sullivan left their home while the suit was pending after “repeated” violations of their constitutional rights and “years of criminal investigation and public accusations,” according to their attorney.

polygamy symbol Charlotte Family Law Attorney North Carolina Divorce LawyerThe Browns sued Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Utah County Attorney Jeffrey R. Buhman in 2011. In their complaint, the Browns acknowledged that only Kody and Meri Brown were legally married, and that the family did not hold multiple marriage licenses. Instead, “they call themselves a family in the eyes of their church.”

In their complaint, the Browns alleged that Utah’s criminal bigamy law criminalized “not just polygamous marriages but also an array of plural intimate relationships and associations of consenting adults.” They asked a federal district court to enjoin Utah’s enforcement of “laws banning and criminalizing polygamy.”

Utah statute Section 76-7-101 made a person “guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife,” marries “or cohabits with another person.”

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What rules are there for Father’s Right in NC?”


A Canadian man may have thought his girlfriend’s made-up tale about her quintuplet pregnancy was the ultimate gold-digger’s tale, but that was before he was one-upped by a Chengdu, China-based panda named Ai Hin.

Panda eating bamboo Charlotte Divorce Attorney North Carolina Family Law LawyerA “gold digger” is defined informally as “a woman who associates with or marries a man chiefly for material gain.” To be fairer than Jamie Foxx and Kanye West were in their 2005 hit single, “Gold Digger,” men are just as capable of engaging in gold-digging conduct. Since most men cannot become pregnant (yes, men are carrying babies to term), the pretending-you-are-pregnant-to-ensnare-the-mate phenomenon has been a strategy traditionally employed by members of the fairer sex. While not by any means the first to document the phenomenon, Daniel Defoe’s harrowing 1722 account of the life of Moll Flanders is instructive.

The lady Flanders was, in the end, a sympathetic figure. She did what she had to do to survive in a sexist and paternalistic culture. History may not be as kind to the contemporary Canadian Paul Servat’s girlfriend.

According to the Toronto Sun, Servat was tricked in a fake-pregnancy scheme by his girlfriend, who told him she was carrying quintuplets. The girlfriend’s stomach swelled, she began lactating, and the couple accepted donations from neighbors and friends. A mother of triplets who befriended the couple told CTV news that the girlfriend’s story didn’t add up. She said the girlfriend kept adding to the number of expected children.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” I’m considering separating from my spouse; what actions should I refrain from doing?”


Larry Weiser, the director of Gonzaga University’s Elder Law Clinic, says all of the sudden, he is seeing older people wanting to divorce their spouses. The sharp rise in people aged 60 and up seeking low-cost legal advice for divorces is like nothing he has seen in 33 years at the clinic. Divorce requests in the Elder Law Clinic have tripled in the first seven months of 2014 alone.

Older couple Charlotte Family Law Attorney North Carolina Divorce LawyerWeiser and others at the clinic are scratching their heads. What is causing an apparent increase in older Americans seeking divorce? Weiser told the Spokane, Washington-based Spokesman-Review that the issues underlying divorce cases handled in the Elder Law Clinic are frequently domestic violence or situations in which “the marriage has been over for a long time.” Weiser said many couples seeking divorce have lived in the same home for years, but have been living separate lives, in effect, under the same roof. In other cases, one spouse left the home years ago, and now the parties are formally ending their relationship for, if nothing else, peace of mind.

However, Weiser said, in many other cases, the same common issues that plague younger couples cause older couples to seek divorce. Older couples struggle with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and gambling. They deal with marital strain brought on by financial difficulties, medical issues and strain brought on by family members—including children or step-children—who don’t support their parents’ marriage. This latter factor, Weiser said, is especially true in divorces in which one or more spouse is ending a second marriage.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” Is there some property that the judge cannot divide?”


It used to be that if a couple made it far enough down the road of marriage, they’d be especially likely to stick it out, literally, until death forced their parting. A quarter century ago, just ten-percent of divorces in the United States involved divorcees who were over the age of 50. Now that figure is 40 percent, according to researchers at Bowling Green State University. That amounts to more than 600,000 divorces involving over-50 divorcees in 2010 alone.

Just Divorced Charlotte Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Family Law AttorneyMany couples—or perhaps one-half of couples—know they want a divorce long before taking the proverbial plunge. One 53-year-old divorcee, interviewed by Yahoo Finance, said she knew she wanted to get divorced years ago, when her 19-year-old daughter was still a toddler. Her daughter required day-to-day medical care, and the woman did not believe she could care for her on her own. She waited until her husband retired so that she could collect some of his pension.

Divorcing late—or later—in life raises some unique issues for potential divorcees. Certified planner Jean Ann Dorrell cautions those nearing or passing the half-century age to consider the challenging financial and other issues such divorcees may face.

One common issue is who gets the house? Many young couples may not own real estate; many older couples do. An investment in real estate is usually a couple’s largest, and the investment involves more than numbers. It is a home where children may have been raised, where the best (and worst) of times may have occurred, where someone has fled for years for comfort from the so-called slings and arrows of life. Can a couple facing divorce work together to sell the house and divide the proceeds? If one spouse decides to let the other spouse keep the house, who pays the mortgage? These are issues that need to be addressed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” I’m not getting along with my husband. We’ve been married two weeks and it was a mistake. Can’t I just get an annulment?”


Sometimes what “they” say is not good enough because “they”—whoever “they” are–don’t have the facts. One thing “they” have always said about divorce in the United States is that Christians are just as likely to divorce as unbelievers.

Just Married Charlotte Family Law Attorney North Carolina Divorce Lawyer“They” were wrong.

Harvard-trained researcher and author Shaunti Feldhahn has released a book in which she debunks some commonly held myths about divorce and divorce rates in the United States. The book is titled The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce.

Feldhahn got the idea to write the book eight years ago when she asked her assistant to locate some reliable divorce statistics for an article she was writing. After searching, both Feldhahn and her assistant concluded that there weren’t “any real numbers.” They spent the next several years digging through “[t]remendously complicated, sometimes contradictory research to find the truth.”

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can any attorney help me with my family law needs in North Carolina?”


A 40-year veteran of the Asheville Citizen-Times says gay weddings would mean big business to Asheville. The only thing standing in the way is North Carolina law.

Gay Marriage Charlotte Mecklenburg Family Law Lawyer North Carolina Divorce AttorneyDozens of scenarios could play out, “depending on decisions made at almost every legal level, from the state attorney general to the General Assembly to the Supreme Court,” wrote reporter Barbara Blake in an Aug. 3 article. She cited a July 28 ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban and wrote that the way was paved for North Carolina courts to do the same.

That may be wishful thinking on the part of Blake and advocates of same-sex marriage. But as Blake points out, more than a few businesses may stand to benefit from a change in the law.

Asheville is already a destination for marriages and marriage celebrations and is considered a “gay-friendly city,” Blake wrote. Most business owners quoted in Blake’s story said they were open to all couples, and did not market themselves specifically to gay couples. The owners of one event-planning and floral design company—life partners Bobby Hill and Mark Arrington—said “the prospect of a new population of brides and grooms is exciting.” They conceded, however, that they had no plans to advertise specifically to the “gay market.”

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What does uncontested divorce mean?”


Consenting to your wife’s divorce so that she can go “experience other men” may not seem like a normal thing to do, but little in the now-rekindled romance between 19-year-old Courtney Stodden and 54-year-old Doug Hutchison has been “normal.”

Courtney-Stodden-Charlotte-Mecklenburg-Family-Law-Lawyer-North-Carolina-Divorce-AttorneyHutchison is billed in media reports as a “star” of the 1999 film The Green Mile, a film that also featured Oscar winners and nominees Tom Hanks, James Cromwell and the late Michael Clarke Duncan. He met the “fame-hungry” Stodden when the then-16-year-old signed up for Hutchison’s online acting workshop. After courting online for several months, the pair met in person and, soon after, married. At the time of their Las Vegas marriage, Hutchison was 51 and Stodden just 16.

The marriage brought the pair more publicity than any acting gig for either party before or since. They parlayed the publicity into a reality television show about their romance. Stodden’s stint on Celebrity Big Brother U.K. left her feeling “strong and independent” and, according to reports, interested in other men. Hutchison appeared to observe that sage quote, from writer Richard Bach: “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.” He let Stodden go, sort of.

Stodden said she was aiming for younger men in her “sow the wild oats” stage, telling TooFab last year that “people say age is just a number and I said that also and obviously age isn’t just a number. I’m excited to taste new things.” Stodden and Hutchison announced their split in a joint statement, saying they would share custody of their dog, Dourtney.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Charlotte Divorce Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Does adultery affect my divorce case?”


Reality television star Kendra Wilkinson has met several times with Hollywood divorce lawyers, People Magazine reports. Wilkinson has said there is no chance she will reconcile with husband and former National Football League player Hank Baskett. Wilkinson and Baskett have two children—a four-year-old son and a daughter born in June.

Hugh and Kendra Charlotte Adultery Lawyer North Carolina Divorce AttorneyWilkinson is a former Playboy model who first garnered notoriety when she was featured as one of several girlfriends of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner in the reality television show “The Girls Next Door.” The show aired from 2005 to 2009. Wilkinson ended her relationship with Hefner in 2008 and married Baskett the following year. Their relationship has been chronicled in another reality show, “Kendra on Top.” The couple is still living under the same roof, so that WE network cameras can keep rolling as their relationship unravels.

The unraveling began in June when a transsexual model named Ava Sabrina London told the National Enquirer that she engaged in two sexual encounters with Baskett. London alleged that she and Baskett exchanged information on YouTube and eventually met for sexual encounters “that never culminated in actual sex” but which she said left Baskett “very satisfied.” London passed a polygraph test administered by the National Enquirer, and RadarOnline has alleged that it obtained video surveillance that shows a truck matching Baskett’s arriving at London’s Los Angeles condo.

London said Baskett paid her to keep quiet about the encounters. Baskett has denied being involved with London.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need an attorney to get a Divorce in North Carolina?”


A Cleveland, Ohio judge found himself on the other side of the bench after being arrested Saturday for beating his wife.

Courthouse Charlotte Mecklenburg Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Family Law AttorneyCuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason was accused of punching, biting and choking his wife inside a vehicle in Shaker Heights, where Mason is from, according to witnesses. Aisha Mason—Judge Mason’s wife—sustained “serious facial injuries,” including broken facial bones, according to reports. The couple’s children, aged four and six, respectively, were in the vehicle during the beating.

Judge Mason allegedly threw his wife out of their vehicle at the corner of Van Aken Boulevard and Avalon Road. Aisha Mason told emergency dispatchers she feared for the safety of the couples’ children and pleaded with responders to find the children and get them out of harm’s way.

Judge Mason was arrested at his home in Cleveland about twenty minutes after the alleged beating, after his sister called police to report that he was threatening to kill himself with a gun. Judge Mason was charged with felonious assault.

While in custody, Judge Mason admitted to having weapons in his bedroom and attic. Officers searched his home and found some 2,500 rounds of ammunition, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Winchester shotgun, a 50-shell shotgun belt, two semi-automatic rifles, two handguns, a sword, four canisters of smoke grenades and a bulletproof vest.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” I’m not getting along with my husband. We’ve been married two weeks and it was a mistake. Can’t I just get an annulment?”


Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down a controversial punishment to Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice. Rice was suspended for two games for his involvement in an altercation with his fiancé (now wife), Janay Palmer. Following this incident, Rice was observed via security camera pulling an unconscious Palmer out of a New Jersey casino elevator. Rice pleaded not guilty to third degree aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program.

Ray_Rice Charlotte Divorce Lawyer North Carolina Family Law AttorneyThere is a growing concern from the public that the NFL is not taking a hard enough line on domestic violence. Roger Goodell’s two game suspension for Rice has been subject to scrutiny around the country from multiple media outlets that have compared this suspension to drug related suspensions that are four games. This scrutiny has gone as far as United States senators Chris Murphy, Tammy Baldwin, and Richard Blumenthal, writing a letter to NFL requesting reconsideration and revision of Rice’s punishment to “more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense.” The senator’s letter says the NFL’s punishment “reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women.” Goodell has responded to this scrutiny that Rice’s punishment is in line with the NFL’s decisions when previously dealing with similar situations.

Locally, Charlotte has had recent headlines for NFL players and domestic violence. Carolina Panther’s Pro Bowl defensive end, Greg Hardy, was charged last May with communicating threats and assaulting a female after an altercation with his ex-girlfriend. After being convicted on both charges by Mecklenburg County District Court judge Rebecca Thorne Tin, Hardy’s attorney confirmed that his client will be appealing to a jury trial in Superior Court. The Panthers general manager, David Gettleman, has announced that the team will not discipline Hardy until the NFL takes action under the leagues code of conduct policy. Gettleman also said that the league will not do anything until the legal process has played out.

Continue reading →