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Domestic Relations

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Visitation – Contempt – Child Support Payments – Mental Health Evaluation (access required)

Maxwell v. Maxwell Even though the trial court acted within its authority when it ordered the plaintiff-father to undergo a mental health evaluation, the trial court was nevertheless required to make findings as to the father’s unfitness as a parent or as to the children’s best interests before the trial court suspended the father’s visitation privileges. We affirm the trial court’s finding that the father was in contempt and its order that the father undergo a mental health evaluation. However, we reverse and remand for further findings with respect to the suspension of the father’s visitation privileges.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – GAL – ‘Representation’ (access required)

In re J.H.K. A local guardian ad litem (GAL) program “represents” a juvenile within the meaning of G.S. §§ 7B-601 and -1108 by performing the duties listed in § 7B-601; the non-lawyer GAL volunteer is not required to be physically present at a hearing to terminate parental rights. In this case, the GAL program met its obligations under § 7B-601 and those prescribed by § 7B-1108. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to that court for consideration of issues not addressed by its original opinion.

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Domestic Relations – DVPO – Emotional Distress – Driving by Ex’s House – Working from Home (access required)

Mace v. LaPrade Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that defendant's past violence, his ongoing statements to the parties' son about plaintiff's dating life, and his practice of driving by her home made her apprehensive about her security safety and caused her substantial emotional distress. In fact, plaintiff's emotional distress reached a level where she sought professional counseling for this distress.

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Domestic Relations – Civil Practice – Contempt – Interim Attorney’s Fee Award – Psychological Evaluation (access required)

Church v. Church Plaintiff's motion to set aside an interim attorney's fee order did not list any of the grounds for reconsideration set out in N.C. R. Civ. P. 59; therefore, the motion did not stay the time for filing an appeal. Plaintiff's notice of appeal from the interim attorney's fee order - filed several months later - was untimely.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Right to Counsel – Waiver – Competence (access required)

In re P.D.R. The respondent-mother was alleged to have mental issues, was appointed a guardian ad litem, and professed not to understand what was going on. Under these circumstances, the trial court had a duty to inquire into the mother's competence not only to waive counsel, but also to represent herself in the proceedings to terminate her parental rights.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Support – Income Reduction – Sexual Offender Registry – Former Nurse Anesthetitist (access required)

Metz v. Metz A judge committed no abuse of discretion in setting a divorced sex offender's child support obligation at $2,627 per month. The defendant-father argues that his loss of his position as a nurse anesthetist and the forfeiture of his licenses, subsequent difficulty in finding other employment, and resulting loss in income were involuntary and are not the result of bad faith on his part. We cannot agree.

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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody – Intervenor – Best Interests (access required)

Leadman v. Leadman Plaintiff spent little time with his children, allowing the intervenor - the children's maternal grandmother - to act as their primary caregiver. When plaintiff did interact with his children, his driver's license was revoked, yet he drove with the children in the vehicle; moreover, he was violent towards the children's mother in their presence.

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Domestic Relations – Divorce – Civil Practice – 6 Months’ Residence – Military (access required)

Huston v. Huston Even though the plaintiff-husband - a native of Alabama - first tried to get a divorce in Alabama, since the husband has lived in North Carolina for years and intends to remain here, the trial court correctly found that it had jurisdiction over the husband's claim for an absolute divorce. We affirm the divorce judgment.

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