NC COA: Entry of Default & Specific Performance, Jones v. Jones

By Kristin Hampson

Entry of Default, Specific Performance, COA18-478, Jones v. Jones, Feb. 5, 2019, Lee County

This matter was originally appealed in action COA14-507.  After certifying this Court’s decision to the district court, Plaintiff filed a motion for entry of default, and a default judgment was entered on the same day.  Defendant filed a motion to set aside entry of default more than one month later.  The trial court ultimately denied Defendant’s motion to set aside entry of default.  Defendant appeals from the trial court’s order denying his motion to set aside entry of default and ordering specific performance.  Because the trial court’s findings were supported by the record, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of default and order for specific performance.

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NC COA: Equitable Distribution, Nordman v. Nordman

By Evonne Hopkins

Equitable Distribution, COA18-405, Feb. 19, 2019, Nordman v. Nordman, Iredell County

Equitable distribution orders and contempt orders are both immediately appealable.

Equitable distribution order remanded for further findings of fact on all factors within Section 50-20(c) supported by the evidence at trial.  The trial court must make findings of fact concerning each distributional factor for which evidence is presented and determine in its discretion whether an unequal distribution is equitable.

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NC COA: Child Custody/UCCJEA, Walz v. Walz

By Evonne Hopkins

Child custody, subject matter jurisdiction/UCCJEA, COA18-240, Feb. 19, 2019, Walz v. Walz, Carteret County

Holding: The trial court erred in finding that North Carolina was the “home state” of the two minor children and in exercising emergency jurisdiction.  The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to make the initial child-custody determination.

In May 2015, Husband and Wife enter into a Separation Agreement (“SAPS”), which gave Wife primary custody of the minor children.  The SAPS included a provision that NC would have jurisdiction over matters contained in the agreement.  In June/July 2015, Wife moved to Arizona with the minor children.

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The Value of Membership: Why Should You Join the Family Law Section of the NCBA?

By Lisa LeFante

I have been a member of the NCBA Family Law Section for nearly 22 years.  If you asked me why I joined back in 1997, I probably would have said, “because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and Marc Sokol is paying for it.”  If you ask me today, my answer is still the same (well, partially, Marc is no longer paying for it, although I wouldn’t mind if he did) because that’s what you are supposed to do.  The real question is why is joining the Section something we are “supposed to do?”

I am a member of a Section that is some 1,000+ lawyers strong, most of whom dedicate their careers to family law.  From this Section, I learn not only about developments in family law, but also about camaraderie, professionalism, and public service.  I learn how to be a better lawyer, and perhaps in turn, a better person.

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NC COA: Morgan v. Defeo

By Jeff Marshall

Equitable Distribution, COA 18-322, Feb. 5, 2019, Morgan v. Defeo, Iredell County

Plaintiff requested an ex parte Domestic Violence Protective Order against Defendant alleging the “defendant attempted to cause or has caused bodily injury and that the defendant continues to lie on social media about her.”  The trial court granted Plaintiff’s ex parte DVPO and ordered Defendant to refrain from all social media about Plaintiff and her family.  Plaintiff wrote in her original complaint that Defendant abused her and damaged her home in July of 2016, but her complaint was not filed until approximately one year later.  In her complaint, she attached screen shots of Defendant’s Facebook posts, Defendant’s text messages, and damage to the home from 2016.

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NC COA: Bezzek v. Bezzek

By Jeff Marshall

Domestic Violence, COA18-761, Feb. 19, 2019, Bezzek v. Bezzek, Orange County

Husband filed a complaint for absolute divorce and equitable distribution.  Wife admitted the allegations for absolute divorce but filed a motion to dismiss the claim for equitable distribution because the parties had previously executed a separation agreement addressing equitable distribution.  Husband responded with a motion to rescind the separation agreement and a motion for the establishment of child support.

After a trial, the lower court found the separation agreement to be void.  Wife appealed, claiming the trial court’s order was a “final judgment.”  However, because the equitable distribution claim was still pending, the trial court’s order was not final and the appeal is interlocutory.  In an interlocutory appeal, the appellant has the burden of providing sufficient facts and arguments that support appellate review on the ground that the challenged order affects a substantial right.  Here, Wife failed to make any argument regarding any deprivation of a substantial right and, therefore, failed to meet her burden.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals dismissed Wife’s appeal.

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NC COA: In the Matter of E.M.

Juvenile Delinquency, COA 18-685, Jan. 15, 2019, In the Matter of E.M., Mecklenburg County

Holding: The trial court must order a mental evaluation of a minor, and thus has no discretion, if evidence is presented that the juvenile is mentally ill or developmentally disabled during a juvenile hearing.  Read more

NC COA: TPR Sufficiency Of Pleadings, In the Matter Of I.R.L.

Parental rights, COA18-427, Jan. 15, 2019, In the Matter of I.R.L, Robeson County

After a termination of parental rights hearing, Respondent-Father (“Father”) appealed the termination of his parental rights. The COA reversed and remanded the issue to the trial court.

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NC COA: Modification Of Custody, Walsh v. Jones

By Ketan Soni

Modification Of Custody, COA18-496, Jan. 15, 2019, Walsh v. Jones

The Father’s record from 2004 and 2005 included acts of domestic violence, abuse of illegal drugs, anger management issues, and allegations of inappropriate touching of the minor child.

In 2010, the court found Father was not a fit and proper person to have custody or visitation of any nature.

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Three-Section Networking Happy Hour In Fayetteville Feb. 28


The NCBA Family Law, Estate Planning, and Military & Veterans Law Sections invite you to a joint networking happy hour in Fayetteville.

Date and Time: 5 – 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28

Location: The Mash House, 4150 Sycamore Dairy Road, Fayetteville

RSVP online by Tuesday, Feb. 26

Free for all Section Members. Invite someone who could be a member.