Divorce Case Law & Statutes
The statutes governing the legal aspects of family law are usually consistent but are amended from time to time by the North Carolina Legislature. The statutes are applied by the trial court Judge when making a determination regarding a specific set of facts in a case. Sometimes those decisions are appealed by a party who does not agree with how the Judge interpreted the law to their case. When a case is appealed, the North Carolina Court of Appeals or the North Carolina Supreme Court will issue an opinion regarding those specific facts or controversies involving how the trial court interpreted or administered the Statute when applied to those cases. Below are some recent opinions from the North Carolina Appellate Division.
The North Carolina Legislature has set out the law regarding how, why and when a married couple can get divorced from each other. Section 50-6 governs parties being eligible for divorce based on a one year separation.
Mussa v. Palmer-Mussa; (bigamy and annulment) ; Filed December 6, 2011, NO. COA11-209, from a Wake County decisions.
Husband and Wife were married in November 1997 and separated in February 2009. During their marriage, the parties had three children. Earlier in 1997, the Wife had become married to another man in an Islamic religious marriage ceremony performed by a construction worker. The Wife later performed the Islamic divorce ceremony from this man, returned her dowry and declared herself divorced. Wife believes she was divorced from his man before getting engaged and married to Mr. Mussa.
Wife and Husband lived together as husband and wife for twelve years, purchased property together, raised their children together, and filed taxes together. In 2008, Wife filed a complaint for divorce from bed and board and was awarded child support, postseparation support and attorney’s fees. In 2009, Husband filed a Complaint for an annulment based on bigamy. The Court of Appeals determined that Wife and Husband were not actually married because Wife was technically still married to her first husband and therefore the second marriage, to Mr. Mussa was void.
Shaner v Shaner; (lack of personal jurisdiction; minimum contacts); Filed: 18 October 2011, NO. COA11-345, from an Iredell County decision.
Mrs. Shaner’s original Complaint for postseparation support, alimony, absolute divorce, equitable distribution, interim allocation of marital property, and attorney’s fees was dismissed for improper service on the her Husband. The parties had alternated living in New York and North Carolina, had been married for over forty years prior to their separation and the Husband was living in New York when the Wife filed her Complaint. On 9 April 2010, Plaintiff filed a new complaint seeking the same relief. On 18 August 2010, Defendant again filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, this time arguing that he lacked sufficient minimum contacts with North Carolina under the relevant long-arm statute. On 26 October 2010, the trial court denied the motion, concluding that the court had personal jurisdiction over Defendant. The Defendant appealed that decision.
The Court of Appeals determined that the Defendant could not reasonably anticipate being brought into court on the basis of his limited contacts with North Carolina and the trial court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over Defendant would violate his due process rights and the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision.
Disclaimer and for more information:
These Court opinions are just a small sample of the many opinions which have been issued by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. These opinions are published throughout the year and are available at the Courts’ Opinion page and can be researched using keywords. The North Carolina General Assembly’s page containing the North Carolina General Statutes is here.
This website contains general information about common family law matters in North Carolina. However, please remember that every divorce or family law case is different. Websites are no substitute for genuine legal advice from an attorney and the information here may not apply to your specific case. This page is just for information purposes, is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. The information contained on this site is provided as a public service for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law. The reader is advised to check for changes to current law and to consult with a qualified attorney on any legal issue before taking action of any kind. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or to create or imply the formation of a lawyer-client relationship between the reader and this firm.
Written By: John McNeil