Archive for January, 2013

Is there ever sufficient evidence of “continued cohabitation” to terminate alimony?

I occasionally get telephone calls from men whose ex-wife’s are receiving alimony but also appear to be living with a boyfriend.  They want to know if they can terminate alimony on that basis.  I am never optimistic. In 2002, the South Carolina legislature amended S.C. Code § 20-3-150 to define the “continued cohabitation” necessary to terminate […]

All that hard work….

Some of the more cryptic opinions to come out of the South Carolina Supreme Court simply state “We granted a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals’ decision in [case name]. We now dismiss the writ as improvidently granted.” Between the request for certiorari and such brief dismissals, the petitioner and his or […]

News and events

My newest mentee, Audrey R. Brown, has her website up here. Audrey is a graduate of George Mason University School of Law and an avid roller derby enthusiast–and a member of the Lowcountry Highrollers (she’s currently in the recreational league as she concentrates on developing her law practice).  Her practice focuses on family law and […]

Caught between Scylla and Charybdis

Two years ago, in  In the Matter of Anonymous Member of the South Carolina Bar, 392 S.C. 328, 709 S.E.2d 633 (2011), an attorney was issued a letter of caution for sending an uncivil email that she alleged was sent in response to numerous uncivil communications she had received from opposing counsel.  Since the ethics […]

What’s so bad about split custody?

While our family court jurisdictional statute, S.C. Code § 63-3-530(42), allows judges “to order joint or divided custody where the court finds it is in the best interests of the child,” South Carolina case law looks unfavorable on splitting custody of children. See e.g., Patel v. Patel, 359 S.C. 515, 599 S.E.2d 114, 121 (2004) […]

When a child’s mental health professional makes a guardian ad litem unnecessary

South Carolina Code §63-3-810(A)(1) allows the family court to appoint a guardian ad litem in a private custody case when “without a guardian ad litem, the court will likely not be fully informed about the facts of the case and there is a substantial dispute which necessitates a guardian ad litem.”  Thus attorneys routinely consent […]

Pro se judge shopping

Ever since a local family court judge got defrocked for presiding in a case in which she had an alleged conflict, South Carolina family court judges have often been recusing themselves when there is a claim of conflict, bias, or improper conduct.  This has, unwittingly, led to what I label pro se judge shopping, in […]

Does equitable distribution case law overvalue retirement accounts?

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and 401k account assets are not as valuable as an equivalent amount of cash.  With some exceptions there is a 10% penalty for withdrawing from such accounts prior to the account holder turning age 59 ½.  Other than Roth-IRAs these accounts are also subject to income tax when funds are withdrawn. […]