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Fairness in family law

What a party involved in a legal dispute in North Carolina might think is fair may not always correlate to what the law considers fair and equitable. For example, in family law matters, the rights of a biological parent might take precedence over other rights claimed by people with more of a hand in raising the child. In one example recently cited, a mother who abandoned her baby daughter to the care of the child's grandmother but came back two years later to claim her stands a good chance of being awarded full custody of the toddler, because most laws favor the child's biological parents.

Another situation described was that of stepchildren who have known only their stepfather as a dad, rather than the biological father. However, in a subsequent divorce proceeding between the mother and stepfather, he can be refused access to them because they are not his biological children, no matter how much of a hand he had in their upbringing and lives. The court will probably listen to the wishes of their mother, who is a biological parent.

A third example is the case where a married couple is given the gift of a house from the husband's parents with the idea that they would pay back the mortgage during their expected long union. When he files for divorce, she claims half of the house. This is allowed by the court as the transaction was never properly documented as a loan.

These situations show that parties in a potential dispute should not assume that the result will be fair and equitable or will meet their original expectations. Had the grandmother in the first example taken the proper legal steps and filed for adoption, the outcome may have been different.

Source: Huffington Post, "The 'F' Word in Family Law", Natalie Gregg, December 03, 2013

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