Recent North Carolina Legislation Affecting Family Law and Divorce – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a recent article that I wrote regarding recent laws passed by the North Carolina General Assembly which affect family law and divorce issues.  Part 2 will be coming soon.

The recent legislative session of the North Carolina General Assembly was notable for many reasons and brought a lot of attention to the State of North Carolina.  While one high profile bill that was passed in the area of family law garnered a good bit of national attention, there were several others that could significantly impact family law practitioners.  The following is a summary of new laws that were enacted during the long session of the 2013 General Assembly that may impact you in your representation of domestic clients.

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Recent North Carolina Court of Appeals Decisions Regarding Family Law

Barker v Barker – Civil Contempt

Defendant/Father appealed from an order finding him in contempt for failure to comply with a consent order directing him to pay a portion of his child’s college tuition and expenses. The order was affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The parties signed a consent order on August 20, 2003, which resolved all of the issues between them regarding child custody, child support, equitable distribution and spousal support. The issue pertinent to the appeal was the parties’ agreement regarding payment of tuition costs and expenses for college. Father agreed to pay 90% and Mother agreed to pay 10% of the tuition, room and board costs of the children’s college education, as long as the “diligently applied themselves to the pursuit of education.”

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Dealing with Diminution in Value Claims

When a negligent driver causes a motor vehicle collision by wrecking another car, the innocent victims suffer many losses. One of these losses is a loss suffered by the owner of the vehicle: the loss in the value of the automobile. This claim is called a diminution in value claim and North Carolina law allows for compensation for the loss. For newer cars especially, these claims can be important. The negligent driver’s insurance company is not going to remind the owner/victim about this claim, so it must be brought to their attention.

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What Personal Injury Victims Need to Know About Medicaid Liens

A few weeks ago I posted about Medicare Liens and what people who suffer an injury  as the result of someone else’s negligence need to be on the lookout for if they have Medicare. Similar to Medicare, if a person has Medicaid and suffers an injury, Medicaid may be entitled to a lien on any proceeds received by the person. This lien extends to payments for medical expenses that Medicaid has made on behalf of the person for medical services related to the injury.

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What Personal Injury Victims Need to Know About Medicare Liens

When a person suffers a personal injury, such as a car accident, that was caused by the negligence of someone else, the injured person may be entitled to collect monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other losses. Settling an injury claim has never been more difficult. Over the past several years, various entities have begun claiming liens or rights of reimbursement on injury settlements or recoveries. These entities will not do anything to assist in the recovery of the funds. Instead, they want the injured person or his/her attorney to do all the work and then pay them back in the end. These various entities can include Medicare, Medicaid, or even the person’s health insurance company. Over the next few weeks, we will look at these different entities and why it is important to be aware of them when settling or receiving compensation for a personal injury claim.

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Personal Injury Proceeds are Not Taxable

I recently had a conversation with some colleagues about whether lost wages that are collected in a personal injury case are taxable as income. The answer is that they are not taxable and are excluded from a person’s gross income. The IRS excludes from gross income all funds received as compensatory damages when a person has suffered a personal injury or sickness. The IRS has had a long-standing policy that such damages should not be taxed.

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