Archive for July, 2010

Being the primary caretaker, not discussing litigation with the child, and not harassing the other parent continue to be prevailing factors in custody case

The July 28, 2010 Court of Appeals opinion in High v. High, 389 S.C. 226, 697 S.E.2d 690 (Ct. App. 2010) presents little new analysis of custody law.  Mother was awarded custody by the family court and this was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, primarily because it appeared that mother was the primary caretaker of […]

In era of DNA paternity testing, Supreme Court finally (and greatly) weakens presumption of in-wedlock paternity

“The presumption that a child born in wedlock is legitimate, although rebuttable, is one of the strongest known in the law.” Lewter by Epps v. Thompson, 281 S.C. 397, 315 S.E.2d 821, 823 (Ct.App. 1984).  Yet, for as long as I have been practicing family law, I’ve expected the Supreme Court to eventually reduce or eliminate […]

When the buck stops nowhere, failure is to be expected: the problems created by the lack of tort liability for a Social Service agency’s failure to protect a child from abusive caregivers

My first year of law school the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Deshaney v. Winnebago Cty. Soc. Servs. Dept., 489 U.S. 189 (1989), rejected a claim that negligence of a child protective service agency to protect a child from an abusive caregiver was a violation of the due process clause of the […]

Court of Appeals affirms biased eyewitness testimony insufficient to prove adultery

The July 24, 2010 Court of Appeals opinion in Kennedy v. Kennedy, 389 S.C. 494, 699 S.E.2d 184 (Ct. App. 2010) provides some guidance on proof of adultery, alimony, and apportionment of marital debt. The family court refused to find that Wife committed adultery and the Court of Appeals affirmed.  Husband’s evidence of adultery was solely based on […]

Will the Recent Changes to the Abuse and Neglect Statute Make These Cases Harder to Settle?

I received an email from a recently licensed attorney noting a previous blog and asking whether I thought she, as the guardian ad litem in an abuse and neglect case, should be making recommendations on the merits.  This got me thinking about how the recent changes to the abuse and neglect statute, explained here, will impact […]

South Carolina’s bass-ackwards approach to life insurance to secure support payments

South Carolina’s approach to the requirement of life insurance to secure child support or alimony payments could only have been designed by someone with no appreciation for economics.  Through its structure of perverse incentives, we have created a system that generates unneeded controversy, misallocates the cost of this insurance, and practically guarantees an inefficient level […]

How to draft a family court final order that will get sustained on appeal

Pursuant to South Carolina Rule of Family Court 26 (a & b): An order or judgment pursuant to an adjudication in a domestic relations case shall set forth the specific findings of fact and conclusions of law to support the court’s decision. By signing his name to an order in a domestic relations case, the […]

Why I love my scanner and Adobe Acrobat

Starting about 2003, I would occasionally hear lawyers lecture on “the paperless office.”  While I consider myself on the leading edge of technological savvy for family law attorneys (which is definitely not the leading edge for many other professions), I considered such attorneys to be what my IT guy, Dean White, calls “the bleeding edge.” […]