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Domestic Relations

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Permanency-Planning Order – Legal Guardianship – Evidence – Hearsay – Review Hearing (access required)

In re P.O. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-07-0864, 23 pp.) (Linda Stephens, J.) Appealed from Robeson County District Court. (John B. Carter, J.) N.C. App. Holding: The respondent-mother proffered purported letters from health-care providers saying she did not have a substance-abuse ...

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Domestic Relations – Child Custody – Visitation – Grandmother’s Fitness – Changed Circumstances (access required)

Slawek v. Slawek. Over eight years, the intervenor-maternal grandmother has attempted to gain custody of the minor children, leaving the children anxious and insecure. The grandmother's worsening relationship with the children's father, her hiring of a private detective to investigate the father, and her attempts to indoctrinate the children into her religion and to pull them away from their own all contributed to the children's anxiety and insecurity. We affirm the trial court's finding of a change in circumstances and its conclusion that the grandmother is not a fit and proper person to have visitation with the children.

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Domestic Relations – Post-Separation Support – Wife’s Expenses – Alimony – Duration – Wife’s Income – Insufficient Findings (access required)

Crocker v. Crocker. The trial court could consider evidence it heard in the parties' child custody hearing in determining the family's standard of living for purposes of post-separation support. Since the trial court's findings relegate the defendant-husband to a lower standard of living than he enjoyed during the parties' marriage, such findings do not form a basis for appeal by the plaintiff-wife.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Attorneys (access required)

In re K.J.L. Even though respondent's attorney told the court, "I cannot argue that there's not statutory grounds that exist for termination, I would hope the court would find that those are not sufficient to be in the best interests," given counsel's diligent representation of respondent and the overwhelming evidence of grounds to terminate her parental rights, respondent has failed to show that she received ineffective assistance of counsel.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody – Domestic Partners – Two Mothers – Constitutional Right to Parent – Inconsistent Actions – Parental Involvement (access required)

Davis v. Swan. Even though the parties did not enter into a parenting agreement, they acted in all ways as co-parents of defendant's biological daughter, including defendant's appointment of plaintiff as the child's guardian in defendant's will and defendant's signing of an authorization to consent to health care for minor and a power of attorney for child care.

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Domestic Relations – Civil Practice – Contempt – Parent & Child – Custody – Overnight Guests – Cohabitation – Different Orders (access required)

Rain Tree v. Bradford. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-16-0784, 9 pp.) (Sanford L. Steelman Jr., J.) Appealed from Transylvania County District Court. (David K. Fox, J.) N.C. App. Unpub. Holding: Even though a 2007 order prohibited the parties from cohabiting with an ...

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Domestic Relations – Alimony – Insufficient Findings – Expenses – Ability to Pay – Duration (access required)

Fennell v. Fennell. Because the trial court failed to make sufficient findings of fact to support its conclusion that the plaintiff-wife is entitled to alimony and to explain the manner and duration of the ordered payments, we cannot effectively review the alimony order on appeal.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Retirement – Equity-Line Debt – Unequal Distribution (access required)

Langston v. Richardson. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-07-0746, 18 pp.) (Ann Marie Calabria, J.) (James A. Wynn Jr., J., dissenting) Appealed from Perquimans County District Court. (C. Christopher Bean, J.) N.C. App. Holding: A husband’s separate investment accounts became marital property ...

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