Stanly native, family court judge retires

Stanly native and local judge Bill Tucker was in family court in Montgomery County when he received a surprise.

Tucker’s family came to court to support him on his final day behind the bench.

Turning 72 years old means reaching the mandatory retirement age for the Stanly native who has worked for 46 years in family law.

Tucker’s efforts both first as a lawyer for 35 years for the Albemarle-based firm of Tucker & Singletary, followed by 11 years as a judge, he said, have been about doing what is best for families going through troubling times.

He graduated from Albemarle High School and went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Western Carolina in 1970. Tucker then earned a doctor of jurisprudence from Wake Forest four years later.

Primarily involved as a lawyer in civil trial work and family law, Tucker gained special state certification in 1995 as a family law specialist.

Tucker found himself doing family law, he said, because others at the firm were dealing with other specialties. As a way “to compartmentalize our practice, I gravitated to the civil side,” he said.

His work in family law dealt primarily with divorce, separations, child custody and property distribution arising out of divorces.

In 2008, Kevin Bridges, now the senior resident superior court judge, was a district court judge in a district covering Stanly, Anson and Richmond counties. When Bridges ran for superior court and won, attorneys and others approached Tucker to take the district court position. Former Gov. Beverly Perdue appointed Tucker to the position in early 2009.

Tucker did traffic and criminal court but also was responsible for family court for the district. Along with that, Tucker worked in juvenile court dealing with abuse and neglect cases. He also worked in civil court in cases under $25,000.

However, the primary work as a judge for Tucker was family law over several counties, including Montgomery, Union, Davidson and Richmond.

As a judge, Tucker said family law can involve extremely hostile parties when children and property are involved.

“You have to make sure that they understand hostility is an antagonist to the whole process,” Tucker said.

If parties cannot rise above hostilities, feelings and emotion, he added, it makes dealing with the practical side of separations and property distribution difficult.

“(Child Custody) was much more difficult to really weigh out the interest of both parents so that you didn’t exclude one and render the other in complete control of the situation, unless there were extraordinary circumstances,” Tucker said.

Family law cases often take longer, he said, but the cases are important to be resolved so both spouses and the children could start moving forward.

Over his career, Tucker said hopefully he was able in private practice to develop the knowledge to represent his clients, then later as a judge be able to analyze information properly to make a decision “that is a positive one for both parties.”

“It’s never going to be (a decision) that both parties are totally satisfied with, but you hope you’ve done enough to make it a positive one,” he said.

Tucker will still work in family law after retiring as a judge. He plans to do family law mediation and is close to completing his state certification for it.

When it comes to helping people with cases in family law, Tucker said, “I don’t know that I can stop.”