Lee’s North Carolina Family Law (“Lee’s”) is a valuable secondary source for researching a family law issue. Lee’s is a treatise bound in a grayish-green cover, organized into a three-volume set. It can be found in the “Carolinas” section at the Charlotte School of Law Library with the Library of Congress call number KFN7494.L43 (using the search term “family law north carolina” in the Library’s catalog gets you here).
The library’s current copy of Lee’s is the Fifth Edition, published in 1993 by the Miche Company, in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, Lee’s is kept up-to-date by yearly pocket parts that are located in the back of each volume, to ensure that the researcher has access to the most current rule of law and annotations.
The three-volume set is organized in such a way that pre-marriage – marriage – post marriage situations occur in reality, making it an easy source to navigate even without an advanced knowledge of the law. Moreover, the volumes consistently flow from one to another, so that there is no confusion between Chapter or Section numbers within each volume. For example, in the First Volume, there are five main Chapters, while the Second Volume starts with “Chapter 6” to continue the flow of the organization between the volumes. Additionally, each volume contains a Summary Table of Contents that lists the topics covered throughout the volume by Chapter, as well as a detailed Table of Contents that separates information under each Chapter by Section that then further narrows to multiple Subsections. The comprehensive Table of Contents provides an excellent tool to help researchers navigate through specific and relevant legal issues.
The treatise also contains a variety of other finding tools to help a researcher efficiently retrieve information. Each volume contains an index that lists all the relevant terms within that volume and directs a researcher to the relevant sections within the book. Furthermore, Lee’s contains two other valuable finding tools located in the back of each volume, a “Table of Cases” and “Table of Authorities.” These contain lists of relevant cases, organized alphabetically, and a list of all the pertinent North Carolina statutes referenced within the treatise.
One of the most helpful finding tools within the treatise are the annotations at the bottom of almost every page, which direct the researcher to the legal authority (both primary and other secondary) for the rules of law discussed in the treatise.
The following illustration demonstrates how one can use Lee’s to help efficiently and effectively research an issue:
You have recently opened your own general law practice, and one of your first clients comes to you with questions regarding what options she has in her current marriage situation. She separated from her husband and moved into her own apartment in March 2012, and although the couple tried to reconcile the relationship a few times since then (as late as this past February), she has decided that she is done with the marriage and wants a divorce. After conducting the rest of the client interview, you assure her that you will be in touch shortly with answers, and immediately get to work.
Because you are only vaguely familiar with family law, you decide to start with Lee’s North Carolina Family Law because as a treatise it provides a general overview of the law, as well as a detailed Table of Contents to accurately guide you through the relevant information. You decide to start in the Second Volume under “Chapter 7 – Absolute Divorce” because your client wants to divorce her husband.
As you scroll through the very detailed Subsections listed below each Section in the Table of Contents, you come across “Divorce Based on Separation: Elements and Defenses” and decide to start there. Under that Section, the Table of Contents further subdivides to such subtopics as “Residence” or “Resuming the Marital Relationship”. These subtopics help a researcher narrow the legal issue. After reading through the relevant sections pertaining to your client’s divorce situation, you are confident that you have completed all the necessary research to satisfy your client’s concerns.
The demonstration above shows the value of Lee’s North Carolina Family Law as a secondary resource in which to effectively and efficiently research a legal issue. Because everyone does not have access to treatises, either in print or by subscription, free internet resources about family law, such as the Rosen Law Firm, are available for a general understanding of Family Law in North Carolina.
~ Brittany Tidd, Class of 2013 ~