Author: Carolyn J. Woodruff

About Carolyn J. Woodruff

Here are my most recent posts

Ask Carolyn … Dec. 7, 2017

Ask Carolyn…     Dear Readers, This week Ask Carolyn readers asked about child support arrearages and a deadbeat dad; and holiday alcohol problems and blacking out.     Dear Carolyn, My ex-husband and I had our divorce finalized in 2014. At the time we had two minor children. My daughter who was 16 at the time lived with her dad, and my son who was 14 lived with me. We had joint custody. However, he was ordered to pay child support to me, as well as carry insurance on both children. He was also required to pay 80/20 on any bills that were not covered my insurance. We were to provide our current phone numbers and address to the other party until the children graduated from high school. Since 2014, my ex has not had one visit with our son. I have called to ask him to get him, and he said no. I saw our daughter just about every day. He has not had insurance on our son since the order, and I was forced to put him on Medicaid. Our daughter graduated in 2016 and our son will graduate this year, and outside of child support he does nothing for him. I know I can take him to court because he is in contempt, but I cannot afford it. Will the Department of Health & Human...

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Ask Carolyn … Nov. 23, 2017

Dear Readers, This week’s Ask Carolyn deals with the story of stone soup and provides more information for someone who has written Ask Carolyn several times.     Dear Carolyn, I love my husband, but he is making an annoying comment that is upsetting our family at this holiday of Thanksgiving. We have a cat. My children and I love the cat. My husband calls the cat PITA, for Pain-in-the-a**. The cat’s name is officially Angel. Yesterday, he threatened to deep-fry the cat for Thanksgiving. While he was joking, this caused one of the children to cry. He has never hurt the cat, and I do not believe he will. How do I stop my husband from such strange comments? How do I teach my children sharing for Thanksgiving? Do you have any suggestions?   Carolyn Answers … Hmmm. You should talk to your husband privately about making jokes about Angel. He has to stop. These statements are inappropriate. Point out to him how he is upsetting your children when he makes threats to Angel the cat, however unintentional the threats are. I would warn you that animal cruelty is a sign to worry about domestic violence. I am assuming your husband just has a smart mouth and he is joking in an inappropriate way. Watch for any indications of abuse. You ask about sharing, and the sharing lesson...

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Ask Carolyn … Nov. 9, 2017

Dear Readers, This week’s Ask Carolyn deals with phased-in custody of young children and child abuse.  There are comments on the murder of baby Toni Gwynn.  To write me, see contact information at the end of the column.     Dear Carolyn, I am both a new dad and newly separated.  My little baby girl is only nine months old.  It tears my heart out that I’m not with her every day, but it is impossible for me to live with her mother.  I would like 50-50 custody. I don’t have much experience with young children, and if I can be frank, babies scare me just a bit.  I would like a visitation plan that phases into a 50-50 schedule when my daughter starts to attend kindergarten.  My estranged wife is saying that this is not possible, and she says her attorney says that we have to base custody on current circumstances.  That means more than one trial. My estranged does not think I closely supervise the infant enough.  I just want what is best for my daughter.  What do you think?   Carolyn Answers … First, I applaud you for several things. You are exercising common sense in assessing the best interests of your minor daughter.  It is commendable that you are listening to the concerns of the other parent.  It is also considerate of you to consider...

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Ask Carolyn … Oct. 26, 2017

Dear Readers, Today’s Ask Carolyn addresses the third letter from a perplexed soul in the legal system, and I call on all the attorneys involved to get to the bottom of the writer’s problems. He is a faithful reader of Rhino Times and he deserves an end to his legal mess.   Dear Carolyn, Went to court today and was there four hours. My ex-wife did not show up. Her attorney came three hours late. My attorney Norman Smith and her attorney Lee Cecil talked to the judge, and Mr. Smith rushed out the door and told me to come back Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. I tried to ask about my quitclaim deed to my home, but he was in too much in a hurry to get out of there. How can I get her to sign the quitclaim? I gave Mr. Smith a copy of the Deed. Mr. Smith said my wife’s attorney was going to try to make her get a loan on her teacher retirement and pay the $15,000 she owes me. I am still confused and frustrated about the whole thing. I can sell my land for $50,000 if she would only sign the quitclaim deed. Carolyn Answers … The court system can be frustrating, and the court system frequently takes great patience. Also, attorneys often have tight time schedules, and if Mr. Smith...

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Ask Carolyn … Oct. 12, 2017

Dear Readers, Today’s Ask Carolyn addresses the third letter from a perplexed soul in the legal system, and I call on all the attorneys involved to get to the bottom of the writer’s problems. He is a faithful reader of Rhino Times and he deserves an end to his legal mess.   Dear Carolyn, Went to court today and was there four hours. My ex-wife did not show up. Her attorney came three hours late. My attorney Norman Smith and her attorney Lee Cecil talked to the judge, and Mr. Smith rushed out the door and told me to come back Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. I tried to ask about my quitclaim deed to my home, but he was in too much in a hurry to get out of there. How can I get her to sign the quitclaim? I gave Mr. Smith a copy of the Deed. Mr. Smith said my wife’s attorney was going to try to make her get a loan on her teacher retirement and pay the $15,000 she owes me. I am still confused and frustrated about the whole thing. I can sell my land for $50,000 if she would only sign the quitclaim deed. Carolyn Answers … The court system can be frustrating, and the court system frequently takes great patience. Also, attorneys often have tight time schedules, and if Mr. Smith...

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Ask Carolyn … Sept. 28, 2017

Ask Carolyn…     Dear Carolyn, I think I am about to be sued for alienation of affection. While I am not really sure exactly what this is, I am sure that I am not really doing this. Yes, I do have a paramour who is married. However, it is very clear to her and to me that the relationship with her husband was over when we started our affair. How can I possibly be sued when she had no marriage to speak of? I also heard a rumor that maybe alienation of affection is against the United States Constitution. Is there any movement for alienation of affection to be declared unconstitutional? Any help you can give me would ease my pain and my nervousness.   Carolyn Answers … Alienation of affection is a tort. A tort is a civil action stemming from an injury to another person. An example of a tort is an automobile accident. The person committing the tort of an automobile accident had no right to run into the injured party’s automobile. The person committing the automobile tort has to pay to fix the other person’s automobile. Compare the automobile accident tort to the tort of alienation of affection, which is essentially rear-ending someone else’s marriage and creating an injury to the marriage. The person rear-ending the marriage, creating the damage of a dissolution of...

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Ask Carolyn … Sept. 14, 2017

Ask Carolyn…       Dear Readers, This week Ask Carolyn further answers two male readers’ questions regarding alimony and ex-wife harassment. One of the letter writers has written Ask Carolyn again with some more specifics. See the August 31 Ask Carolyn for the original questions.     Dear Carolyn, This is the follow-up information you requested regarding my August 31 question concerning the equitable distribution (ED) settlement in my divorce. To recap, we’re trying to sell the house, which is underwater. My ex’s attorneys want $2,000 a month in alimony and my ex earns $40,000 per year. I want to find out if the courts will grant her alimony and attorney’s fees (now over $40,000), and if I can declare bankruptcy if they do and get it removed. Here is the additional information. My monthly take home after taxes and a small contribution to my 401K ($266.24) is $5,354 a month.  Revolving short term (credit card debt) is approximately $1,425 per month (these are minimum only payments with a 20 to 30 year payoff period).  This leaves me approximately $3,900 per month. Currently, the mortgages are $2,200 per month, with miscellaneous expenses – home insurance, real estate taxes, car insurance, repairs (no car payment, but the car has 175,000 miles), utilities, food, dry cleaning, etc. – running approximately another $2,200 per month.  This does not include dining out,...

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Ask Carolyn…8/31/17

Ask Carolyn … Straight Talk for the Dancing Divorce Attorney Carolyn Woodruff Ask Carolyn… Dear Readers, This week Ask Carolyn answers two male readers’ questions regarding alimony and ex-wife harassment. These questions will also be addressed in future versions of Ask Carolyn also because of the complexity of the questions. Stay tuned. Dear Carolyn, After over a year of frustration and $12,000, I terminated my attorney.  My wife moved out of the marital residence 19 months ago, while I was out of state on a business trip. There was no cheating on either side. I was able to get the divorce and a settlement on the equitable distribution (ED) through the courts.  Currently, I am still living in the home (I don’t want to).   The house will be under water by approximately $15,000 when it sells.  The ED calls for a 50/50 split on the home, whether there is a profit or loss, and it stipulates no alimony request can be presented to the courts until the home is sold. The large amount of debt was split 50/50 in the ED, but the ex’s share of it is coming out of her half of my retirement account from work. The ex’s attorneys are still bucking for a monthly alimony of almost $2,000, and her attorney fees are now more than $40k and are being paid by her parents.  She is employed and makes approximately $40,000 per year.  With the...

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Ask Carolyn…8/17/17

Ask Carolyn… Dear Readers, Today’s Ask Carolyn is a three-part response to a lengthy letter from “Desperately Seeking, A Concerned Mother and Grandmother.” I have broken the letter down into three parts, as I see at least three points in time where more intervention was needed. What I do not want to have to write is Part IV, where someone is dead. Escalating domestic abuse and children do not mix. Part I of Concerned Grandmother: First Time Daughter Moves Out (Pregnant) Dear Carolyn, My daughter dated the father of her child for two years (2014-2016) and during this time they lived together.  Due to emotional abuse, she left him and came back home when she was seven months pregnant.  She didn’t remove all of her belongings because her intentions (I believe) were to go back once the baby was born.  Her main goal at the time was to not be so stressed. Should she go back when the baby is born? Carolyn Answers … She should get the remainder of her belongings and run. Your daughter should get help for herself and learn why she finds it acceptable to allow the abuse. She should start counseling immediately with a counselor, or an agency such as Family Service of the Piedmont. Remember, the baby is an innocent party and does not need to be exposed. Part II of Concerned Grandmother:...

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Ask Carolyn … July 20, 2017

Ask Carolyn…   Dear Readers, Today’s first Ask Carolyn is on disability and just wants what the court awarded. The second is from The Sound of the Beep involving an inspector who filed a property lien. Fifteen Rhino readers seek a solution!     Dear Carolyn, I got a settlement from my ex-wife in Superior Court in January 2017 after she ran away with $80,000 of our money. I was awarded $15,000, and it was to be paid to me in May of this year. My ex-wife’s attorney was disbarred, and she now has a new attorney. My attorney that helped me with my settlement is dragging his feet after almost two years and numerous visits to his office. I still can’t get my settlement. Should I send my ex-wife a bill? She has the money in her retirement account. I can’t afford another attorney at $225 an hour. My income is about $1,000 a month Social Security disability check, and I have a house payment of $800 a month plus all the other bills that go with living day by day. What is my course of action on the pending issue? Can you help me?   Carolyn Answers … I am a little perplexed by the facts of your letter stating Superior Court. Property divisions in divorce are handled in District Court. Since the clerk of Superior Court...

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Ask Carolyn … July 6, 2017

Ask Carolyn…   Dear Readers, Today’s first Ask Carolyn concerns disturbed teens, a growing problem, with a brief discussion of the Carter conviction of involuntary manslaughter for text messages. The second concerns what happens to that engagement ring if the wedding is called off.     Dear Carolyn, I am concerned about my 15-year-old daughter and her relationship with one other teen who is 16 and has access to a car to drive. My daughter lives primarily with her mother, my ex-wife, and visits with me. It seems there is more and more distance between my daughter and me, particularly when I try to talk to her about this other teen, who I consider a bad influence. I’ll call my daughter, Susie—but this is not her real name. Susie has several good friends, but I am skeptical of the teen who can drive, I’ll call Erica. I have seen some texts (on my daughter’s phone) from Erica suggesting fast cars, sketchy drugs and laughing about teen suicide. One text suggests that Susie and Erica are swapping medications. Susie is on an anti-depressant. There is concern about bipolar disorder with Susie. I would prefer that Susie never be alone with Erica, but even if she and Erica are not alone, there is all the social media Susie’s mother allows without supervision. What should I do?   Carolyn Answers … I...

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Ask Carolyn … June 22, 2017

Dear Readers, Today’s first Ask Carolyn concerns a divorce judgment that was set aside after one of the parties to the divorce had remarried. Yikes. The second question continues the discussion of revenge porn.     Dear Carolyn, My girlfriend thought she was divorced. I saw the divorce judgment myself. We got married a month ago and now she is telling me that she wasn’t divorced and that the judge set aside the divorce. How can this be? Am I a bigamist? Is she a bigamist?   Carolyn Answers … Bigamy is the crime of marrying one person while you know you are married to someone else, and bigamy is a felony in North Carolina. I do not think your “spouse” would be prosecuted and convicted of bigamy in North Carolina because you both thought you were marrying a single person – even though you apparently were not. You saw and could produce a copy of what on its face looks like a valid divorce judgment. So how can it be that your girlfriend thought she was divorced and then the judge reversed the divorce? While I believe that this happens infrequently in North Carolina, divorce judgments are occasionally reversed. There are two main reasons. The first is that the married couple (or one of them) lies in the divorce complaint by stating that they have been living separate...

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Ask Carolyn … June 8, 2017

Dear Carolyn, How can someone defend themselves against alimony? To make a long story short, a husband and wife were in a marriage way too long.  The husband stayed because of the children, but the marriage went from bad to worse. The wife worked until the children were born then stayed at home, working part time making a good salary and then working full time about five years ago. The husbandmakes a substantially higher salary of around $100,000, while the wife makes about $40,000. The husband was willing to take on the majority of the marital debt of around $60,000. He also signed over half of his 401(k) and let his wife have all the marital assets inside the home. The wife is now saying that her husband abused her and that she is unable to work due to illness. (Both are untrue). The wife abandoned the marital bedroom then abandoned the marriage and hasn’t paid any of the couple’s debt. She has also turned their three adult children against their father. With all the other claims and divorce finally behind him, the husband only has alimony hovering over his head. He wants to do the right thing, but paying the majority of the debt will take at least 25 years, and they also have two mortgages on their home.  Even though he has the earning capacity, there is...

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Ask Carolyn … May 25, 2017

Dear Readers, Today’s first Ask Carolyn addresses aging pet owners who must give up a pet. Just a reminder – as the summer heats up, do not leave pets or children in automobiles.   Dear Carolyn, My mother is now 90, has beginning dementia and is moving into a senior care facility. She has a 9-year-old cat named Angel. She is worried about Angel, but she cannot take a cat with her to the senior retirement community. She wants me to take Angel. I travel a lot in my lifestyle, but I want Angel to be safe and comfortable. Plus, as a son, I want to make sure my mother doesn’t worry about Angel. What are your thoughts?   Carolyn Answers … Pets are bonded family members. Your mother is right to be concerned about her family member Angel. Pets provide comfort and a reason to get up in the morning. There are lots of opportunities and ways for re-adoption of pets. Here are some suggestions. Find a new owner for your pet: Discuss Angel with your entire extended family. There likely is a solution among your family. If not, then ask the veterinarian, who may kinow someone looking for a pet. Someone told me last week that she had placed a pet adoption through Craig’s List. The vet should at least know where there is a “no kill...

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Ask Carolyn … May 11, 2017

Dear Readers, The week I address dreading Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have a great situation, but realize there are those around you for which Mother’s Day may be most stressful.   Dear Carolyn, Is it un-American to dread Mother’s Day? I lost my only child, plus I do not get along with my mother. My husband’s mother lives in Greensboro. My mother lives in Asheboro. We go to church, so whose mother do we take to Sunday lunch? The mothers don’t like each other, so taking them together is not an option.   Carolyn Answers … Whew! What a dysfunctional situation. Sounds like a good time for a beach trip. Seriously, holidays highlight and exacerbate family problems. Holidays can be stressful when there is family conflict. Given your loss of your only child, Mother’s Day can be a day that opens old wounds. Some churches I have been to recognize mothers on Mother’s Day, and in your case, that may be salt in your wounds. I overall think churches should be more sensitive that Mother’s Day may be a day of reflection over a loss, rather than a celebration for some in the congregation, and I do not mean to be harsh. I would consider avoiding a situation that would send you into the doldrums. Now, the two mothers. You do not say...

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