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Domestic Relations

Domestic Relations – Civil Practice – Contempt Motion – Separation Agreement – Life Insurance Policy (access required)

Willis v. Willis In plaintiff’s separation agreement, incorporated into the judgment of her divorce from David Willis, she waived her right to receive proceeds from David’s life insurance policies. David died three years later without having removed plaintiff as the beneficiary on one of his two life insurance policies. Plaintiff was not in contempt when she failed to turn over David’s life insurance proceeds to his estate.

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Domestic Relations – DVPO – Harassment – Insufficient Showing – Hiring PI – Late-Night Surveillance (access required)

Kennedy v. Morgan (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-07-0588, 12 pp.) (Donna S. Stroud, J.) Appealed from Guilford County District Court. (Margaret Sharpe, J.) N.C. App. Holding: Although plaintiff presented evidence that defendant had been abusive during and even after their marriage, defendant’s act of hiring a private investigative service to conduct surveillance in order to determine if plaintiff was co-habiting was not “knowing conduct … directed at a specific person that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies that person and that serves no legitimate purpose.” G.S. § 14-277.3A(b)(2).

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Domestic Relations – Alimony – Dependent Spouse – Unsustainable Lifestyle – Equitable Distribution –Insufficient Findings (access required)

Bodie v. Bodie The defendant-wife was unable to show that she was a dependent spouse because there is a surplus left each month, after deducting all of her expenses from her net monthly income. Even though the wife contends that this is only possible because she lowered her standard of living compared to what the parties maintained when they were married, the evidence showed that the parties had to borrow money to maintain that standard of living. The wife has cited no authority establishing that alimony may be awarded for the purpose of maintaining a lifestyle that rests upon such a shaky foundation.

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Domestic Relations – Separation Agreement – Oral – Unenforceable (access required)

Marks v. Marks Where the parties were separated and intended to live separate and apart forever when they entered into an oral contract, and where the contract involves payments for spousal support and from the sale of marital or divisible property, the contract was governed by G.S. § 52-10.1. Because the contract was not in writing and acknowledged by both parties before a certifying officer as defined in G.S. § 52-10(b), it was unenforceable.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Trial Court’s Calculations – Remand (access required)

Schweizer v. Patterson The equitable distribution order appears (1) without explanation, to ignore the fact that certain assets were stipulated to be separate property and (2) to improperly consider passive increases to the value of separate property. Moreover, using the figures set out in the order, our calculations do not match those of the trial court.

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Marital Residence – Rental Value — Classification – Vehicles & Equipment (access required)

McCollum v. McCollum Following the parties’ separation, the defendant-husband maintained most of the marital debts. After recognizing the husband’s payments, the trial court granted the plaintiff-wife a set-off against these payments based on the rental value of the marital residence because the husband remained there after the separation ...

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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Retirement Account Division – Business Valuation – Personal Injury Settlement Classification (access required)

Curtis v. Curtis The trial court should have applied the coverture fraction (the numerator representing the number of years of marriage which occurred simultaneously with the employment which earned the pension, and the denominator representing the total years of employment during which the pension accrued) to the accrued benefits of the plaintiff-husband’s 401(k) plan, calculated as of the date of separation. Since the court failed to do so, we remand.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Father’s Incarceration & Release – Insufficient Findings (access required)

In re G.B.R. The trial court failed to consider any evidence of changed conditions – respondent’s progress in prison, his release from prison, his employment and living conditions -- in light of the evidence of prior neglect and the probability of a repetition of neglect. Thus, the trial court’s termination of respondent’s parental rights is not supported by clear, cogent and convincing evidence.

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