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Locking the barn doors after the horse has escaped

There are a half dozen critical moments in each family court case when having an experienced attorney is critical: motions for temporary relief; contempt actions; mediation; when trial is scheduled; trial; and when post-trial motions are due. A motion for temporary relief is often outcome determinative. The party obtaining favorable results can likely keep those […]

Betting on an estranged spouse’s untimely demise

In the first twenty years of my practice it was rare that a party died in the middle of divorce litigation or within a few years of the divorce. The few times this happened there were obvious warning signs: either a history of serious mental illness including suicidal ideations, or addiction to dangerous narcotics–typically opiates. […]

(Unwittingly) Coaching the children

To most people “coaching” children in the context of custody and visitation cases is telling a child to lie to the judge (or the guardian, or a mental health professional/forensic evaluator) about that party’s or the other parent’s behavior. Two classic (but overstated) examples are telling kids to lie about sexual or physical abuse in […]

A convoluted (legal) career path

November 18th marked the 23rd anniversary of my opening my solo practice. Over the past decade I’ve had the opportunity to formally and informally mentor a number of newly licensed attorneys. Every such attorney has been justifiably nervous about their decision to pursue a legal career and their ability to turn a law degree into […]

How to enforce an attorney fee award

A few months ago my mentee observed me enforce my attorney fee award through a family court contempt proceeding. Expecting me to prove the contempt through my client’s testimony, she was surprised when I testified first and asked my client very few questions when I called him as a witness. The method attorneys typically use […]

Disciplinary opinion clarifies rules on records subpoenas in family court

#79 on my November 14, 2011 list of “One hundred things I don’t know about South Carolina family law,” reads, “Can one issue subpoenas duces tecum without an order of discovery?” The November 16, 2016 Supreme Court disciplinary opinion in In the Matter of Margaret D. Fabri answers that question in the negative. In Fabri, […]

Not all cases need to settle

A few weeks ago one of my cases was mediated by a retired family court judge. It began with the her talking privately to me and the other attorney. In the previous months opposing counsel and I had tried two cases to verdict. I mentioned that to our mediator, who replied that she thought, “more […]

Like blind men boxing

I often suggest to newly licensed attorneys wanting to learn how to practice a particular area of law that they go to the courthouse and observe a variety of cases within that field of law. While to practice in court without a supervising attorney merely requires an attorney to observe one family court trial, attorney’s […]

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