WHAT are we supposed to do?

My mother has been trying desperately to have a Final Hearing. Both she and her estranged husband are in poor health, but we have been trying since 2008 to get this matter settled. Every time a Court date draws near, here is what happens:

  1. Her estranged husband quits taking his meds and winds up in the hospital. Court postponed and rescheduled for 4 to 6 months later.

  2. He requested a change of venue which took over 6 months to reschedule one time.

  3. One Court date, the lawyer supposedly had car trouble plus a non-working cell phone and could not attend Court. Yeah, right.

  4. Now, the estranged husband has once again stopped taking his meds and is in the hospital with Court scheduled for next Thursday. It’s not going to happen…AGAIN.

With all of these delays and rescheduling of Court and the fact that both my mother and her estranged husband are in poor health, what on earth are we to do about this? It appears a final hearing will NEVER take place. Is there anything at all we can do to get this matter settled? Her estranged husband has no intention of ever going to Court and will NOT settle out of Court! Can this matter be settled after death? Looks like that is what we are going to have to do!

Yes, equitable distribution actions survive after the parties have died. However you may want to consider pursuing the matter further now, read on:

The final pretrial conference shall be conducted pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure and the General Rules of Practice in the applicable district or superior court, adopted pursuant to G.S. 7A-34. The court shall rule upon any matters reasonably necessary to effect a fair and prompt disposition of the case in the interests of justice.

(e) Upon motion of either party or upon the court’s own initiative, the court shall impose an appropriate sanction on a party when the court finds that:

(1) The party has willfully obstructed or unreasonably delayed, or has attempted to obstruct or unreasonably delay, discovery proceedings, including failure to make discovery pursuant to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 37, or has willfully obstructed or unreasonably delayed or attempted to obstruct or unreasonably delay any pending equitable distribution proceeding, and

(2) The willful obstruction or unreasonable delay of the proceedings is or would be prejudicial to the interests of the opposing party.

Delay consented to by the parties is not grounds for sanctions. The sanction may include an order to pay the other party the amount of the reasonable expenses and damages incurred because of the willful obstruction or unreasonable delay, including a reasonable attorneys’ fee, and including appointment by the court, at the offending party’s expense, of an accountant, appraiser, or other expert whose services the court finds are necessary to secure in order for the discovery or other equitable distribution proceeding to be timely conducted.