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Directed verdicts in South Carolina Family Court

The past few years a number of attorneys have complained to me about being granted or denied a motion for a directed verdict in family court.  I even prosecuted a rule to show cause in which the court directed a partial verdict against my client.  Since I don’t recall motions for a directed verdict in the first fifteen years of my family court practice, I thought I would research the family court’s authority to direct a verdict.

It ends up the family court cannot direct verdicts.  Rule 50 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure is the rule authorizing directed verdicts.  Rule 2(a) of the South Carolina Family Court Rules specifically exempts Rule 50 from the Rules of Civil Procedure that are applicable in family court.

There are no directed verdicts in South Carolina Family Court. To quote Roger Daltrey (or is it Pete Townshend), “I won’t get fooled again.”

 

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  • Paul D. Schwartz

    Here is an area the Family Court is behind the times. Some cases warrant a directed verdict (maybe not as important since the Judge would decide and there is no removal from a jury), and Summary Judgment. How many times have we seen a frivoulous custody claim designed often by an unfit parent to pressure the fit parent to cave on other issues, support, property, etc., and there is no way to summarily end the case. There should be. I once had a crack addicted Husband seeking custody and unsupervised visitation, holding up a case, requiring multiple hearings and discovery and a trial date where he finally caved. Summary Judgement early on by affidavit would have been appropriate. These cases sometimes drag on and on.

  • Kristin K. Millonzi

    Fascinating! Earlier this year I was arguing this very issue with a colleague. Thanks for the doing the legwork on this family law rule of antiquity.

  • Pete DeLuca

    Glad the time for appeal has run on the two occasions that I was granted directed verdicts in Family Court!!

  • John R. Polito

    Wow, a small world. Today, Pete, Kristin and I tried day #1 of an abuse case that IMHO cold benefit from a directed verdict. So here I am tonight preparing for tomorrow and everyone else already knew the answer to the illegal motion I was about to make but me. Love these tips. Thanks Greg!!

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