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Domestic Relations

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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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Mother’s Substance Abuse – No GAL (access required)

In re S.R. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-07-0865, 16 pp.) (Wanda G. Bryant, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County District Court. (Rickye McKoy-Mitchell, J.) N.C. App. Holding: Where (1) petitioner Youth and Family Services Division did not allege dependency as a ground ...

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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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