Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Orren v. Orren

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 16, 2017

DANIEL R. ORREN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN B. ORREN, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 8 March 2017.

          Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 18 April 2016 by Judge Christine Underwood in Alexander County District Court No. 09 CVD 521.

          Homesley, Gaines, Dudley & Clodfelter, LLP, by Edmund L. Gaines and Leah Gaines Messick, for plaintiff-appellant.

          Wesley E. Starnes for defendant-appellee.

          DIETZ, Judge.

         Plaintiff Daniel Orren appeals from the trial court's alimony order. He contends that the trial court erred by denying his request to assert a cohabitation defense at the alimony hearing. The trial court denied Mr. Orren's request in part because the court believed "cohabitation isn't a defense to an alimony claim."

         As explained below, this Court has held that cohabitation is a defense to an alimony claim. Williamson v. Williamson, 142 N.C.App. 702, 704, 543 S.E.2d 897, 898 (2001). Thus, the trial court acted under a misapprehension of the law when it rejected Mr. Orren's request to assert a cohabitation defense. When a trial court acts under a misapprehension of the law, this Court must vacate the challenged order and remand for the trial court to examine the issue under the proper legal standard. Stanback v. Stanback, 270 N.C. 497, 507, 155 S.E.2d 221, 229 (1967). Accordingly, we vacate the trial court's order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On 17 August 2009, Daniel Orren filed for divorce from his wife, Carolyn Orren, and sought equitable distribution of the parties' property. On 2 November 2009, Ms. Orren filed an answer and counterclaims for postseparation support, alimony, and equitable distribution.

         In June 2012, following a hearing and a consent agreement, the trial court entered an equitable distribution order. In September 2012, the trial court held a hearing on Ms. Orren's request for alimony. At the end of the hearing, the court took the matter under advisement. Later that month, the court drafted an alimony order and mailed it to the Alexander County Clerk of Superior Court for filing, but the clerk's office did not receive it.

         Apparently, over the next three years, neither party informed the trial court that the alimony order had not been entered. Finally, in September 2015, Mr. Orren sought leave from the trial court to assert the defense of cohabitation in response to the pending alimony claim. The trial court then discovered that "the Clerk did not receive the Order prepared by the Court." The trial court explained that "[u]pon learning that the Order had not been filed with the Clerk, the Court sought to retrieve the Order but found it impossible to do so due to an earlier malfunction in the home computer." The trial court therefore "elected to reopen the evidence regarding changes in the parties' circumstances which have occurred [since] September 21, 2012." The court held a hearing on 30 September 2015 to take additional evidence with respect to the alimony claim, but rejected Mr. Orren's request to assert the defense of cohabitation.

         On 18 April 2016, the trial court entered an alimony order that awarded Ms. Orren alimony, attorneys' fees, and a "distributive award" from a retirement incentive package that Mr. Orren received after entry of the equitable distribution order but before entry of the alimony order. Mr. Orren timely appealed.

         Analysis

         Mr. Orren first argues that the trial court abused its discretion by rejecting his request to assert cohabitation as a defense to his ex-wife's alimony claim. As explained below, because the trial court acted under a misapprehension of the law, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.