Archive for January, 2017

The codification of child custody factors is making encouragement of the other parent’s relationship with the child much more important

When South Carolina codified child custody factors in June 2012 as S.C. Code § 63-15-220, I noted,“I do not see any reason why this statute should radically alter South Carolina child custody determinations.” My experience and the anecdotal experience of my peer [to date, no appellate opinion interprets or analyzes that code section] indicates that […]

Little reason to attack the guardian at trial

Working on materials for an upcoming lecture on attorney/guardian interactions, I realized that it had been years since I last felt compelled to “attack” the guardian ad litem at trial. However I am often asked by colleagues on effective techniques to undermine the guardian. There are times when the only effective strategy for minimizing a […]

What the guardian should expect from the attorneys/What attorneys should expect from the guardian

The following are materials for an upcoming Charleston County guardian ad litem luncheon.  I am posting them as a blog so that folks can comment.  These materials can also be downloaded as a Microsoft Word file. I often “recycle” lectures, so comments may be used to update the materials. A lot of the bickering between attorneys and guardians […]

Let’s Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow

Recently, walking past an apartment in Amsterdam, I observed the following postcard-sized calling card for a “life coach” and broke out laughing: Attorneys, especially family law attorneys, represent folks who are trying to overcome “mistakes.” Sometimes the mistake is having a child before they are ready to parent. Sometimes the mistake is marrying someone they shouldn’t […]

Is empathy really useful for a family law attorney?

A recent New York Times ROOM for DEBATE discussed Does Empathy Guide or Hinder Moral Action? The anti-empathy debater defined it as “the capacity to experience the feeling of others, and particularly others’ suffering.” He believes our culture confuses empathy with compassion, and that empathy is a hindrance to making wise and moral decisions. Family […]

Patterns in 2016 Published South Carolina Family Court opinions

For the past six years I’ve done an annual recap of the prior year’s South Carolina published family court appeals. It’s an opportunity for me to observe patterns that I may not have observed in reviewing each published opinion discretely and shortly after its release. After a slow start (two published opinions in the first […]

Insufficient guardian investigation causes Court of Appeals to reverse termination of parental rights

The December 30, 2016 Court of Appeals opinion in SCDSS v. Nelson reversed the termination of Mother’s parental rights primarily because the guardian ad litem had conducted an insufficient investigation. In Nelson, DSS removed Mother’s three children in September 2013 because she was living with her sister in a roach-infested home without running water, lights, […]

 

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