Legal Question in Family Law in North Carolina

Who's Responsible?

I have custody of my e-wife's and mine 5 year old child. During one of her scheduled visitations, it was told to me that he broke her new husband's laptop and they (my ex-wife and her husband) expect me to pay for half of the repair. Am I responsible for half of the repair even though the child wasn't in my custody at the time?

Asked on 4/25/03, 10:48 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John McNeil Haas McNeil & Associates, PA

Re: Who's Responsible?

Interesting question. Whether a parent is liable for their child's actions depends on the specific circumstances that gave to the occurence, and, of course, the law.

From what you have indicated, your ex-wife was not sufficiently supervising the child. Your ex-wife should have been supervising your child and ensuring that your child was not in a position where she could break expensive items. Given the lack of supervision, unless your court order or Separation Agreement says something to the contrary, your ex-wife probably does not have a claim against you for the cost of the computer.

In North Carolina, visitation and custody privileges and responsiblities carry much the same responsibilities. As your ex-wife was unable to abide by her responsibilities it is doubtful that you should have to pay for her lack of responsibility.

As always, you should contact an attorney to ensure that there is nothing in the Separation Agreement or court order which specifies otherwise. Also, if she is paying child support, she may try to "off-set" her child support to take into account the cost of the computer. She is not allowed to do this.

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Answered on 4/28/03, 10:52 am

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