Posts Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys

Getting bossy with custody clients

I have a saying that custody cases are the rare litigation in which it is acceptable for an attorney to change the facts.  While the parties’ parenting skills at the beginning of the case are relevant, their parenting skills at the end of the case can be even more relevant.  Guiding a client to change […]

Answering discovery you first object to

A pet peeve of mine is attorneys who begin discovery responses with a list of boilerplate objections. Recently I received interrogatory answers from two separate attorneys who I actually respect with such lists. One response began: This response is submitted by Plaintiff subject to and without in any way waiving or intending to waive, but […]

The aggravation of equitably dividing household furnishings

Early in my career I spent an afternoon with two estranged spouses and a friendly opposing counsel auctioning the parties’ household furnishings to the highest bidder as the method of equitable distribution.  From this I developed two insights: 1) this is the fairest way to equitably divide household furnishings; and 2) this is an insane […]

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): […]

 

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