Case of the Day: Savage v. Zelent

The case of the day is Savage v. Zelent (N.C. Ct. App. 2015). Alan Savage and Julie Anne Zelent lived together as a couple in Scotland. They eventually separated, and Zelent moved to North Carolina. She sued Savage in the Inverness Sheriff’s Court under the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, claiming that she was entitled to support from him. After a trial, the Sheriff found that Zelent was not entitled to contribution. Zelent did not appeal. Zelent’s counsel withdrew from the representation, which under the governing procedure meant that a peremptory diet—a kind of hearing— had to be held. The hearing was held, but Zelent did not appear despite receiving notice. In her absence, as permitted by Scots law, the Sheriff awarded Savage his expenses in an amount to be later determined by the Auditor. The Auditor held a diet of taxation, a hearing for the purpose of determining the amount of expenses. Again, Zelent did not attend. The Auditor found expenses in the amount of £148,516.75, and the Sheriff approved the report and awarded the expenses. Zelent did not appeal, but she also did not pay.

Savage sought recognition and enforcement of the judgment in North Carolina. The trial court recognized the judgment, and Zelent appealed.
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