Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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.

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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.

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Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “How long does getting a divorce take?”


Carolina Panthers player Greg Hardy has been jailed after police say that he and his girlfriend were involved in a domestic dispute. In this case, both Hardy and his girlfriend claim that the other was the aggressor.


Football closeup Charlotte Family Law Lawyer North Carolina Domestic Violence AttorneyDespite, the he-said, she-said claims, a judge in Mecklenburg County ordered a $15,000 bond for Hardy. The judge similarly issued a protective order requiring Hardy to end all contact with 24-year-old Nicole Holder. Yet another requirement of Hardy’s release from jail was that he agree to attend three AA classes each week.


The last stipulation arose because both Hardy and Holder were intoxicated at the time of the fight. The argument began early in the morning and culminated when police were called around 4 a.m. Holder says that Hardy threw her into a couch that was covered with assault rifles and other weapons. Later, she says Hardy threw her into the tiled area of his tub, resulting in terrible bruises around her head, neck and shoulders. Holder says she was then drug from the tub by her hair while Hardy yelled that he was going to kill her.


Holder then says Hardy left her in the bedroom and began choking her with both hands around her throat. Hardy is then alleged to have told the woman that if she went to the cops or the media and reported what had happened he would kill her.

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Family Law Firm in Charlotte, North Carolina.jpgA recent article on discussed a study which sought to examine alcohol’s role before and after divorce. The study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, looked at 5,300 people over a ten-year period and contained some surprising results.

Lead researcher Corinne Reczek, assistant professor in sociology at the University of Cincinnati, and her team looked at data collected from surveys of a random sample of 5,000 Wisconsin high school graduates of the class of 1957. Researchers conducting the study contacted each of the subjects four times over a 47-year period.

The results showed that men drank less while married than if divorced or single. In fact, men’s alcohol consumption showed a significant dip upon entering into a first marriage. Three quarters of the men who divorced blamed the end of their marriage for an increase in drinking. Unsurprisingly, men drank more during every stage of life than women. The researchers believe spending more time at home and out of the bars causes the post-marriage dip.

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Broken Heart.jpgWomen that have suffered through an abusive relationship face many of the same hurdles than any women do when going through a divorce. The only difference is that each step of the long divorce process is made more difficult by the looming presence of an abusive spouse.

It’s often the case that women in abusive relationships have no access to money, no financial documents, no clue of how much money exists in the accounts or how many accounts there are to begin with. They may not have a credit card or checking account in their own name and may be used to detailing how every penny has been spent. Such controlling relationships present ample opportunities for the husband to squirrel away assets because, after all, questioning isn’t permitted.

If you feel trapped in an abusive relationship, there are steps you can take to begin to secure your finances and prepare for an exit. If it can be done safely, you should consider the following suggestions:

• Get a post office box so you can get your mail safely and securely.

• Open a bank account in your own name and start putting away money. Make sure your paycheck is direct deposited into your account rather than the joint checking.

• Keep copies of your important paperwork, including bank statements, marriage certificates, social security numbers, etc. It’s probably a good idea to have a safe place outside of the home to store such documents.

• Obtain a credit card so you have access to money if you find yourself cut off from your husband.

• Open a new, private email account that you can use to securely communicate with an attorney and other divorce professionals. You can even use a public library to access the account if you’re worried that your home computer is not safe or has malware or key logging software installed.

• Change your PIN’s to a number that your husband won’t easily guess.

• If at all possible, avoid signing any documents handed to you by your husband.

• Finally, and most important, make arrangements with family or friends for you and your children to move out of the house at a safe time.

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Movie Board.jpgMany celebrity marriages are over in the blink of an eye. What can average Joes like us learn from the divorce mistakes of the rich and famous? Plenty. Though we might not have their money or fame, we can still learn lessons from their trials and tribulations:

• Get a prenup
When Mel Gibson divorced he was reported to have divided his $900 million fortune in half. Madonna’s ex, Guy Ritchie, is said to have walked away with an additional $90 million for his time with the singer. Kelsey Grammer, of Frasier fame, had to shell out $50 million to a former Playboy Playmate. Why did they all pay so much? Not because of their generosity, that’s for sure. All these unlucky souls lacked prenuptial agreements. Even if you don’t have their money (or close to it) a prenup can help secure the assets you do have and avoid an arbitrary division by a judge later on.

• Don’t trash your ex in public
Kim Kardashian and the rest of her family have wasted no time trash talking her ex, Kris Humphries since their 72-day marriage ended months ago. All the talking causes the process to drag on longer than necessary and leads to emotions running high along the way. Rather than hurting feelings more than has already happened keep quiet and tell your friends and family to do the same, at least until the papers are signed.

• Follow your child custody agreement
Follow whatever agreements you reached in court. When Alex Baldwin and Kim Basinger split Basinger tried to keep their daughter away from him. This move resulted in a very prolonged and nasty dispute between the two and led to hurt feelings all around. If you don’t hold up your end of the bargain your ex can drag you right back to court, costing you time and money, as well as damaging your relationship with your child, along the way.

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children 5.jpgAccording to a recent report, the parents who gave their three children Nazi monikers have had their children taken away from them by the Department of Youth and Family Services. There appears to be a significant dispute about the basis for having the minor children taken from their parents. These three children each have Nazi style names. In fact, the family gained national attention when they went to the grocery store to get a birthday cake for their son, Adolf Hitler. The clerk at the cake counter apparently would not put the child’s name on the cake and reported the situation to authorities.

The interesting issue here, aside from the unique names of the children, is why were the children taking from their parents in the first place? While most of us would not choose to name our son “Adolf Hilter,” surely, no one wants to live in a society where the government can swoop in and take children away because it does not approve of the names of the children, do they? What if the government were to begin publishing a list of names which are forbidden? Or worse, what if it began publishing a list of acceptable child names?

There appears to be a significant disconnect here with respect to why the children were taken away from their parents. According to one source noted in the article, the children were taken away from their parents because there was evidence of domestic violence in the household. Candidly, this seems rather farfetched to this writer. Even if there were an incident of domestic violence, would that justify the government taking these children away from their parents? Indeed, one might wonder if there are enough foster homes in Mecklenburg County to house all of the children whose parents may have had an incident (isolated or otherwise) of domestic violence. The “domestic violence” angle seems to be a rather weak red herring.

What seems more likely is exactly what the Court of Appeals seems to have found: that there is no legitimate reason why the children were taken away from their parents. Or, more precisely, that the children were taken away from their parents because somebody did not like how these parents chose to name their children. What about these parents’ constitutional right to parent their children? What about these parents’ constitutional right to free speech?

Of course, as we all know, very little is black and white and there probably is no easy answer to this question. As much as it might seem Un-American to take someone’s son away from them for naming him “Adolf Hitler” (how ironic!), there does seem to be a counter argument. Might it be argued by the government that the act of naming a child “Adolf Hitler” is, in and of itself, a form of child abuse? Indeed, one might imagine that this child will suffer years of otherwise unlikely attention and, maybe, ridicule, scorn and taunting. What if little Adolf were to be a big time basketball player? What would the fans chant while he is on the free throw line? We all know how heartless and unthinking children and adolescents can be at times.

While this may be an extreme case, the notion of the government taking children away because they are not given “acceptable” names seems to be a very slippery slope. Who decides if a name is acceptable? By what standards is it determined whether a name is acceptable or not acceptable? Is the government to publish a list of acceptable and unacceptable names? Is a parent to get prior approval before putting a name on the birth certificate?

As a parent, moms and dads have a tremendous amount of responsibility for the wellbeing and development of their child. Decisions which moms and dads make every day have a huge impact on the upbringing and advancement of their children. Such decisions affect whether the child will be a good student, whether they will respect authority and the law, whether they will have a good work ethic. Even decisions as seemingly innocuous as how to have the child’s hair styled or what the child is to eat for dinner are within the parents’ discretion and can have an impact on the child.

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Money 2.jpgIn a recent spousal support and attorney fees case out of California, a wife was ordered to pay spousal support to her estranged husband after he was convicted to domestic violence against her. The wife had financially supported her husband for years while he was both unemployed and abusive toward her. Finally, she secretly recorded an incident of domestic violence and took him to Court. After a jury trial during which the recording was played, the Husband was convicted of forced oral copulation.

When the divorce became finalized, the husband requested spousal support. The family court judge ordered that the wife pay to the husband $1,000.00 per month in spousal support and awarded the husband $47,000 in attorney fees. In California, as in North Carolina, judges have significant discretion when weighing marital misconduct in the context of an alimony award. Under North Carolina law, the only absolute bar to an award of alimony is the commission of illicit sexual behavior by the receiving spouse. Even adultery is not an absolute bar to an award of post separation support. Rather, it is one of many factors the family court may consider in determining the award of post separation support.

The wife earns in excess of $100,000 a year as a financial analyst and had been supporting her husband, a former car salesman, since the couple had their first child several years earlier. This was considered, as it would have been considered under North Carolina alimony law, by the Court in making its determination. The judge would have ordered the wife to pay $3,000 per month in alimony, but discounted the amount to $1,000 because of the sexual assault committed by the husband.

The Husband did receive an active jail sentence for the forced oral copulation. On this basis, the wife argued that the husband would not actually have any living expenses while he was in jail. Interestingly, the family court judge agreed with her. When the husband is released from jail in a few years, he will have the right to ask for spousal support again. The husband would be entitled to spousal support under California law.

This case is illustrative of a very interesting point. It is an excellent illustration of how much discretion family court judges have in most matters. As we have discussed here previously (Alimony Decision by North Carolina Court of Appeals) family court judges have wide discretion in spousal support cases. Similarly, family court judges have wide discretion in child custody matters. While it is difficult to imagine a family court judge determining, in their discretion, that the perpetrator of a violent felony would be entitled to alimony, there is nothing under California law which would serve as an absolute bar to the spousal support award. This wide discretion is one of the reasons why many family law matters are better off resolved by the parties in settlement. By resolving disputes by agreement, the parties maintain a level of control over the outcome of their divorce case. If a case goes on to trial, the parties take significant risk in allowing a third party, a family court judge, to resolve their divorce matters for them. Indeed, what may strike one judge as being appropriate in their discretion could vary widely from what might strike another judge as being appropriate under the very same circumstances. In short, because major decisions are often subject to determination under a very subjective standard, family law cases are often very unpredictable.

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A man involved in a child custody dispute recently committted an act of domestic violence when he hit the mother and the grandmother with his car in Monteray, California. According to the article, the man and a family member were in a motor vehicle and trying to leave with the minor children. The mother and grandmother of the children came outside of the house, stood in front of the car, and tried to convince the men to leave the children with their mother.

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According to the Charlotte Observer, Rockingham County sheriff’s deputies reported on Wednesday that one of their residents is facing felony charges after shooting his wife with a wad of toilet paper stuffed into a gun.
The 38-year-old man was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he shot his wife when she returned to their home late Tuesday night. According to the sheriff’s department, the suspect loaded a black power pistol with toilet paper, then fired the weapon at his 55-year-old wife, who was in bed. His wife suffered a powder burn from the gunshot and was being treated at a local hospital. Bond was set for her husband at $1,000. He is due to appear in court on August 11.