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Small bites on visitation

Absent a showing of a “substantial change of circumstances” one is allowed to bring only one motion for temporary relief on a particular issue prior to trial. Typically these motions are brought early in the case–some attorneys almost reflexively file these motions with their initial pleading. However whatever relief the client obtains at the temporary […]

The problem in filing updated financial declarations at final hearings to approve agreements

Family Court Rule 20(a) requires “a current financial declaration” “be served and filed” “[i]n any domestic relations action in which the financial condition of a party is relevant or is an issue to be considered by the court.” A problem arises when parties negotiate an agreement involving financial issues while relying on old financial declarations, […]

Script for defeating the “unclean hands” defense in contempt prosecutions

I don’t believe “unclean hands” is a defense to contempt. If an opposing party seeks to hold my client in contempt for conduct that party has engaged in, I believe proper procedure is to bring one’s own contempt action. If that party’s conduct has prevented my client’s compliance with a court order, I think the […]

Real emergencies versus fake emergencies

There’s a saying that in doing work quickly, inexpensively, and accurately, you are lucky if you can achieve two of the three, but can never do all three. While obviously not an iron-clad rule, experience has shown it to be true. For myriad reasons the process of trying to rush something makes it harder and […]

Lying to your attorney makes your case more difficult and more expensive

With every contested case, I sit my client across the desk, look him or her in the eye, and give some variation on the following advice: Whatever you tell me remains confidential unless you choose to reveal it. However what you tell me guides me on what goals to pursue and what evidence to seek. […]

First you investigate

Clients, and the young attorneys I mentor, often ask me to render an opinion on their cases when their cases have just started. Specifically clients want opinions on their likelihood of achieving their goals, the length of time the case will take to complete, and the expected ultimate cost. Given that these clients are often […]

Red lines and teenagers

Non-custodial parents of teenagers often complain when the custodial parent doesn’t stop their child from engaging in typical risky teen behavior. One hears stories of parents losing custody merely because their teen engages in alcohol use, mild drug use, or has sex while under their care. Not having seen this actually happen myself, I am […]

Should guardians give opinions?

A former mentee of mine, who is developing a thriving practice as a guardian ad litem in private custody cases, recently asked for my opinion on whether guardians should give opinions. S.C. Code § 63-3-830(A)(6) prohibits guardians from making recommendations on custody in their final written report and places limits on making custody recommendations at […]

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