Articles Posted in North Carolina Legal Resources

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Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does a “No-Fault’ divorce mean in NC?”

The attorney-client privilege can be an almost sacred right for either party in a divorce proceeding. Knowing that the private communications you have with your attorney about your case stay sacrosanct fosters candor and peace of mind in the relationship you have with the person representing you on such a personal case.  This in turn allows your attorney to better prepare for your case. Similarly, the work product privilege protects materials prepared in preparation for litigation. These two immunities protect information from being produced (through documentation or testimony) via discovery from the opposing side. In any given divorce or family law case there can be facts, confidences and strategies that you do not want shared with your (soon-to-be former) spouse’s side and argued against you in court.

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Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Do I need an attorney to get a Divorce in North Carolina?”

Going to court can be a scary thing, even when you haven’t done anything wrong. The formal setting, the judge, the lawyers, all of that can lead to stress among those facing a divorce court appearance. People often fear saying or doing the wrong thing and waste unnecessary energy worrying about something that isn’t deserving of the anxiety. To find out some tips for how to conduct yourself in court and hopefully save stress for things that matter, keep reading.

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house.jpgThe North Carolina Court of Appeal upheld a trial court which granted wife’s motion for reconsideration. In this case, both the husband and the wife had declared bankruptcy. There was a second mortgage on the former marital home. While both parties identified the second mortgage in their bankruptcy, wife asserted that she was not responsible for that second mortgage.

The parties had a hearing on post separation support. During this hearing, Husband’s attorney asserted that there was no mortgage encumbering the former marital home. The parties reached a settlement before the end of the post separation support hearing. They signed a memorandum of judgment which called for husband to pay $2500 to wife and to transfer his interest in the former marital home to wife.

Husband complied with the requirements of the memorandum of judgment by paying $2500 to wife and transferring his interest in the home to wife via a Quitclaim Deed. Wife subsequently learned that there was, in fact, a mortgage encumbering the property. She filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 60 and asked the Court to set aside the Consent Order. The trial Court granted the motion for relief from Judgment and Husband appealed.

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kids.jpgIn the matter of A.S.Y, the North Carolina Court of Appeals evaluated whether a Guardian ad Litem for Mother should have been allowed to withdraw immediately prior to the hearing on whether to terminate Mother’s parental rights. The procedural history of this case is such that Mother requested assistance for herself and her daughter from Orange County Department of Social Services. That day, Orange County DSS assumed custody of the child and placed her in foster care. A Guardian ad Litem was appointed for Mother for the neglect and dependency proceedings.

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In the case of Keaton v. Keaton, the North Carolina Court of Appeals reviewed the trial court’s determination that neither party met their burden of proving that there had been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welbeing of the minor child. The parties separation agreement, which was incorporated into their Judgment of Absolute Divorce, provided primary child custody of the parties’ minor child to Mom with visitation to Dad.

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently considered a case where the trial court awarded $40,000.00 for an overly broad subpoena. This case involved a tort action on an “Engagement Agreement” containing a provision where Plaintiff (prospective husband) was obligated to support Defendant (prospective wife) for the rest of their lives whether they married or not. Prospective husband, convinced that prospective wife never intended to marry him, sued prospective wife for fraud and other such claims. The prospective husband thought that he had signed a prenuptial agreement, rather than an “Engagement Agreement.” Through the course of litigation, prospective husband subpoenaed documents from several of prospective wife’s former attorneys who were involved in the drafting of the “Engagement Agreement” – all objected.

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals further refined, in a case of first impression, the definition of “gross monthly income” for purposes of calculating North Carolina child support. In this case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals addressed “gross monthly income” for child support calculation purposes. Two components of “gross monthly income” were evaluated by the North Carolina Court ojavascript:void(0);f Appeals:

1) Social Security and Medicare taxes employers are required to make on behalf of an employee.

On this issue, the Court of Appeals held that Social Security and Medicare taxes employers are required to make on behalf of an employee may not be considered income for child support purposes because these payments do not provide a parent with immediate access to funds that could be used to pay child support.

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently addressed, in an unpublished decision, whether a father’s lack of involvement in college choices relieves him of his responsibility to pay for college for the minor child. Under North Carolina law, the payment of college expenses is not required of parents as part of North Carolina child support. However, sometimes parents agree to pay for college expenses and include those provisions in their separation agreement.

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently considered whether the word “represent” requires that a Guardian Ad Litem must actually be present at the hearing on whether the court would terminate the parental rights of the Father. In this case, the termination of parental rights was reversed based on the fact that the minor child’s Guardian Ad Litem was not physically present at the hearing in accordance with North Carolina General Statutes §§ 7B-601-1108 (2007). A Guardian Ad Litem’s attendance at hearings is mandated, and the Guardian Ad Litem shall represent the juvenile in all proceedings. The Guardian Ad Litem’s absence from some proceedings gave rise to a presumption of prejudice to the Respondent.

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Mecklenburg County is doing its best to optimize the experience for the thousands of citizens who are called upon to serve on jury duty each month. The courthouse now features a business center and a daycare center for jurors’ use, as well as a juror assembly room with free Wi-Fi and an area where mothers can pump breast milk. During the wait to be called, movies are shown for jurors in the assembly room, where free popcorn is supplied. All jurors are also given a 90-minute lunch break.

Last week, the 26th Judicial District of North Carolina (Mecklenburg County) held a juror appreciation week, featuring a jazz ensemble, a celebrity speaker, and discounts for jurors at local restaurants near the courthouse. Juror Appreciation Week, which the district has put on every year for the past decade, was organized in order to “applaud the jurors who support the justice system” and make the juror experience more pleasant for all citizens who serve.

Every month, nearly 8,000 residents are selected for jury duty, although so far this year only about 6,000 potential jurors have actually sat on a jury. The National Center for State Courts reports, which sets benchmark statistics, declares that less than 5 percent of jurors in a county should be no-shows. In Mecklenburg County, only 4 percent of potential jurors never show up. Those who fail to appear for jury duty will receive a letter notifying them of their failure to appear. A repeat offender who fails to appear, without a valid reason, can face fines or be held in contempt of court by the judge.