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Domestic Relations

Domestic Relations – Alimony – Bonus Income – Family-Owned Company – Income Suppression Finding Unnecessary – Corporate Income – Attorney’s Fees (access required)

Webb v. Webb. Where the defendant-husband's family controls his salary and bonuses, the trial court was not required to find that the husband was suppressing his income when the court ordered the husband to pay half of any bonus he received (up to a stated ceiling) to the plaintiff-wife in alimony. In the alimony order, the trial court miscalculated the income generated by an apartment complex. We affirm in part and remand in part for consideration as to whether this affects the amount of alimony awarded to the wife.

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Domestic Relations – Child Custody – G.S. § 50-13.7(a) – Change in Circumstances – Modification (access required)

Patten v. Werner. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding that the effects of substantial changes in circumstances on a minor child were self-evident, justifying a modification of a prior child custody order. We affirm the trial court's order modifying the prior custody order so as to grant primary physical custody to the defendant-father and secondary physical custody and liberal visitation to the plaintiff-mother.

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Domestic Relations – Custody – Visitation – Substantial Change in Circumstances – Contempt (access required)

Mull v. Mull. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-16-0897, 7 pp.) (Sanford L. Steelman Jr., J.) Appealed from Buncombe County District Court (Rebecca B. Knight, J.) N.C. App. Unpub. Holding: A modification of a final visitation order must be supported by evidence ...

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Domestic Relations – Alimony – Separation Agreement – Attorney’s Fees – Reasonableness (access required)

Jackson v. Penton. The trial court had the authority to award reasonable attorney's fees under the express provisions of a separation agreement; however, the amount of fees was unreasonable where they were awarded to enforce a provision of the separation agreement that was unenforceable as against public policy. Affirmed in part; reversed and remanded in part.

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Domestic Relations – Child-Support Guidelines – Retirement Benefits – Medicare & Social Security Benefits – First Impression (access required)

Caskey v. Caskey. Contributions made by an employer to an employee's retirement accounts, including any 401(k) accounts, and insurance premiums may not be included as income for the purposes of the employee's child-support obligations unless a trial court, after making the relevant findings, determines that the employer's contributions immediately support the employee in a way that is akin to income. Social Security and Medicare taxes that employers are required to make on behalf of an employee may not be considered income as applied to an employee's child-support obligations.

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