Posts Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys

In praise of the additional sustaining ground

The Supreme Court opinion of Walker v. Brooks, 414 S.C. 343, 778 S.E.2d 477 (2015) was unique for my appellate experience in a number of disappointing ways. While I have lost a number of appeals, this was the first time I have lost when representing the respondent (it is much harder to lose when one […]

Help T. Ryan Phillips get Baker v. Hardwick published

I would love to see the May 24, 2017 Court of Appeals opinion in Baker v. Hardwick get published. Not just because T. Ryan Phillips and I share office space; not just because I referred him the appeal that he turned into a victory reversal. Baker establishes an important legal principle: the outer limits of […]

Who has the burden of proof on the willfulness element of contempt?

A few days ago I prosecuted a contempt action. The proof for one of the allegations of contempt was very document intensive and mathematical–reimbursement for unpaid medical expenses–and another was heavily reliant on exhibits. I figured that establishing violations would be easier by having my client explain the records through direct testimony rather than by cross-examining […]

The time to prepare for trial is long before trial

I’m always amazed when the court asks me if I can be ready for a multi-day trial it wishes to set a few weeks hence. The level of preparation necessary to determine that trial is necessary is vastly lower than the level of preparation necessary to actually try the case. It requires months–at least three […]

United States Supreme Court holds a state court may not order a veteran to indemnify a divorced spouse for the loss in the divorced spouse’s portion of the veteran’s retirement pay caused by the veteran’s waiver of retirement pay to receive service-related disability benefits

The United States Supreme Court rarely issues opinions addressing family law, making the May 15, 2017 opinion in Howell v. Howell blogworthy. Howell addresses an issue that arises in divorces involving military members and that I had previously assumed had been addressed by the Supreme Court in Mansell v. Mansell, 490 U. S. 581 (1989): […]

Learn something new every day: involuntary non-suits in family court

I’ve long been aware that one could use Rule 41(b), SCRCP, to move to dismiss an action for failure to prosecute or as a sanction for the other party failing to comply with the rules of civil procedure or a court order. However yesterday, at the end of my case in chief of a contempt […]

Automatic discovery in family court–finally

Effective today (May 1, 2017) the South Carolina Supreme Court has amended Rule 25, SCFCR, to authorize automatic discovery in family court. In 23 years practicing under the prior rule, I only had three cases in which a motion for discovery was contested. In one case the family court authorized discovery. In the other two […]

Keeping smart people from doing stupid stuff

When I attended law school no one informed me that I would spend a substantial part of most days talking smart people out of doing stupid stuff. Lessons in best practices doing this could have been one of my more valuable practimum experiences had anyone thought to teach this. It seems to be the lot of most […]

 

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