March 2023 Family Law Section Update

By Ketan Soni

A. We had a Council meeting on March 23, 2023. It was gloriously held over Zoom. The next (and final) meeting for this bar year is on May 18, 2023, in Cary.

Did you know that you can attend Council meetings remotely, thus eliminating travel? Well, now you know how easy it really can be to get involved.

B. Jill Jackson takes reign shortly as your next putative Chair. Listen to her interview with Shelby Benton, recipient of the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award, which can be found in the March 3, 2023, blog post.

C. Here’s an update on my goals.

  1. Succession Plan: I have revised the first draft and will circulate it once Cheyenne gets her thumbprint on it.
  2. Financial Affidavits: I will never win. The ball has not been picked up. The mantle is lying on the ground. The dulled flames have been snuffed out. I give.

Except…..we’re in Spring!

Spring is the season of hope, “holding a promise that change is a-comin’, for the better. The river will ‘flow again after it was frozen'” (Hemingway).

Spring signifies coming out of the darkness. Equinox means “equal night” of light and dark. We’ve passed that date.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” “If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome” (Anne Bradstreet).

I have A New Hope once our Annual Meeting is complete in late April. I will Strike Back. I’ll dub it “The Return of the Financial Affidavit.” You get the gist.

  1. To streamline Council meetings. I’m now a 95/5 on this one. The last meeting was just under 1.5 hours while still addressing important issues. Keep reading.
  2. Other business

Budget: We are spending section funds in the following manner:

  • $1,000 contribution to the NCBA Foundation
  • Offering monetary scholarships for legal aid/pro bono attorneys to attend the annual meeting, including covering a portion of transportation
  • Buying down CLE costs
  • Paying for socials in conjunction with sponsorship funds
  • Spending every dollar we can in a constructive way to benefit section goals

Below is a Section Status Update Since January


The committee plans to have a comprehensive report regarding the recently completed draft of the Uniform Parentage Act. The first meeting to hash this out starts April 11 at 10 a.m. Tell Cheyenne if you want to be involved.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Will and Elaine’s survey results are in! We’ll digest these before the next meeting and circulate to the degree the information is insightful.


  • April 28 to 29, 2023: Annual Meeting. I’m done fighting the Taylor Swift movement. Early bird rate ends April 7.
  • September 22, 2023: Fall CLE in Winston-Salem
  • November 2 to 3, 2023: Intensive CLE in Greensboro
  • January 25 to 26, 2024: Wrightsville Beach
  • May 3 to 4, 2024: Annual Meeting

Child Support

To reiterate: New Child Support Guidelines effective January 1, 2023 are out. Here is the link to the new guidelines.


Meredith Parker has left the direct practice of law, which prompted Chelsea Gajewski to coerce Hannah Carter into temporarily filling this role.

Equitable Distribution

Progress! The General Statues Commission voted (not a majority) to proceed with a version of Whit Clanton’s committee bill to disallow waiver of Equitable Distribution rights in a deed.

Family Law Desk Book

Ready to roll for the annual meeting! There might be a giveaway!


There are a ton of new bills that we gave input on:

  • A bill to shorten the separation period in DV cases to allow for quicker divorce
  • A bill on Amending Rule 5(b)(1)(a) on electronic service and linking email addresses to your North Carolina State Bar email address
  • A bill to allow 12-year-old children to testify in custody cases
  • A bill to change/impact intestate succession related to paternity issues
  • A bill to change recording laws into two-party consent rules

Interested? Read up at the top on how to get involved.

Modern Family

Bullet Points:

  • The draft is done.
  • It’s going to be circulated.
  • It’s going to be vetted in parts.
  • It’s going to take a lot of meetings.
  • It’s not going to be passed this year.
  • It’s not going to be passed next year in 2024.
  • There will not be 100% agreement on all issues.
  • You will have plenty of opportunities to have input.
  • My goal for someone else is to have consensus/vote.
  • That consensus/vote should be completed before October 2024.
  • If all those things happen, then the UPA will be submitted to the Board of Governors before January 2025.

See how I not only laid out the steps, but the post visually looks like steps, too? ????

Seriously, if you care about these issues, start getting involved now. If you wait until September 2024 to give input, your opinions will likely be rejected.

For those of you who want to get involved, please e-mail me, Jennifer Tharrington, or Cheyenne Merrigan.



  • The Paralegal Division needs a speaker on Ethics for a program in October. Did you know you can get 6 hours of credit for teaching CLE? Did you also know that asking questions in a blog post doesn’t really provide a good forum for getting answers?

Yours truly[1]


[1] But not after June 30, 2023.