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Domestic Relations

Sep 22, 2023

Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Not Pleaded – Affidavits – Divorce

Even though the parties filed equitable distribution affidavits and otherwise proceeded as if this child custody action included an equitable distribution claim, since no such claim was filed before the defendant-Wife obtained a divorce in a separate proceeding, the trial court correctly dismissed the equitable distribution matter. The filing of equitable distribution affidavits did not […]

Sep 22, 2023

Domestic Relations – Separation Agreement – Military Pension – Specific Performance

The parties’ separation agreement establishes that the intention of the parties at the moment of its execution was that, in exchange for releasing any interest in other intangible property, the plaintiff-wife would be entitled to 15 percent of the defendant-husband’s monthly military retirement for the remainder of his life. Plaintiff performed her duties under the […]

Sep 22, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Willful Abandonment – Parole Conditions

The respondent-Father’s parole conditions prohibited him from any contact with any child – including his own – unless he received advance permission. Since Father repeatedly sought such permission, to no avail, the trial court erred in determining that Father had willfully abandoned his daughter. We reverse and remand the trial court’s order terminating Father’s parental […]

Sep 11, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Mental Health – Resistance to Treatment

Before a domestic violence incident led to her eldest child being removed from her care, the respondent-Mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, trauma- and stress-related disorder, anxiety disorder, cannabis use disorder and alcohol use disorder. Testimony from Mother’s social worker supported the trial court’s finding that Mother was resistant to mental health treatment. This resistance[...]

Sep 11, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Neglect Adjudication – Domestic Violence & Lack of Cooperation

Where the respondent-Mother (1) exposed her children to domestic violence (2) refused to cooperate with DSS, and (3) had previous DSS involvement with her son, “Quran,” in which Quran was placed in foster care, these and other factors support an adjudication of neglect for Mother’s four children. We affirm the adjudication of neglect. Dissent (Wood, […]

Sep 11, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Sporadic Participation

Although the respondent-Father presented evidence to the contrary, there was evidence to support the trial court’s findings regarding the lack of a bond between Father and his youngest child, “Nora,” including a social worker’s testimony that Father was interested in relationships with his older children but did not know the now five-year-old Nora and was […]

Sep 11, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Visitation Order – Domestic Violence – Appellate Record

While the respondent-Mother had a domestic violence protective order in place, the respondent-Father (1) sent her a threatening text message and (2) in the presence of respondents’ children, threatened to shoot and kill her. Although Father has taken the classes required by his case plan, nothing demonstrates Father’s remorse for his prior actions, and his […]

Sep 11, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Abuse & Neglect – Separate Placements

The trial court found that, after four-year-old “Amelia” told the respondent-Mother that ten-year-old “Nathan” had touched her inappropriately, Mother “hit [Nathan] with a belt, bottle, and pan which resulted in [him] requiring medical treatment for his injuries.” Medical providers found that Nathan had “red raised linear marks the size of a dollar bill on both […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Abandonment – Custody Order

In 2017, with two-year-old “Alice” and her brother unsecured in the back seat, the respondent-Father overdosed on heroin and passed out in traffic. Although a 2020 custody order disallowed visitation between Father and Alice, it did not prohibit contact entirely. Though Father presented testimony that the petitioner-Mother had frustrated his attempts to contact Alice and […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Guardianship – Insufficient Evidence – Visitation

The affidavit submitted on behalf of “Phoebe’s” foster parents was not signed, only the foster father testified, and his testimony indicated only that he understood the financial and emotional obligations of guardianship, not that he understood other aspects of guardianship or that the foster mother understood the obligations of guardianship. We vacate the guardianship order […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Marriage Validity – Virginia Law – Marriage by Estoppel – Lack of License

After defendant’s brother performed a religious marriage ceremony for them in Virginia, the parties lived together in North Carolina and held themselves out as husband and wife. This was not sufficient to allow us to presume a marriage or to apply the principle of marriage by estoppel. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Abandonment – Blocked Calls – Single-Ground Jurisprudence

Although, during part of the six-month period preceding the petitioner-Mother’s filing of the petition to terminate the respondent-Father’s parental rights, Father was subject to a domestic violence protective order and Mother blocked his calls, Father had – but did not use – other avenues to support the parties’ three children emotionally and financially. We affirm […]

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