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 statutes regarding how and when child custody is determined. Section 50-13.1 contains information regarding initial actions for child support and Section 50-13.7 contains information regarding actions for modification of child custody.
Best v Gallup; (Child Custody) Filed: 6 September 2011, NO. COA10-1488, from a Wake County decision.
In 2004, plaintiff and defendant had a romantic relationship and informally adopted and raised together Defendant’s niece. In 2008, defendant legally adopted the child. Plaintiff and defendant had plans to marry once plaintiff returned from a job in Iraq so that he too could legally adopt the child. While plaintiff was in Iraq, Defendant informed the Plaintiff she was leaving him.
On 3 February 2010, plaintiff filed a verified complaint seeking custody of the child and an ex parte temporary custody order reinstating visitation with her. On 10 February 2010, defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint or remove the action for improper venue. On 5 March 2010, defendant filed a motion to dismiss for plaintiff’s lack of standing to bring the custody action. On 10 June 2010, the trial court entered an order, based on the 12 March 2010 hearing which (1) denied defendant’s motion to dismiss or remove the case for a different venue; (2) denied defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of
standing, and (3) dismissed the custody case upon unstated grounds. The Plaintiff appealed from that decision.
The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court had erred in concluding that defendant had not acted inconsistently with her paramount parental status, but had correctly determined that it was in the best interest of the child to have visitation with plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s custody claim and remanded the case so the trial court could order a custodial schedule, including visitation with plaintiff and consistent with the best interest of the child.
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