Archive for the ‘Of Interest to Family Court Litigants’ Category

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 […]

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 […]

When to file and when to continue negotiating without filing

I had a recent consult with a woman who was gung ho to file for divorce. In discussing her situation, I could not understand her urgency to file before giving negotiations a chance. Like many spouses who come to my office seeking a divorce, she didn’t realize that she would need to resolve issues of […]

Giving it away

When I mentor newly licensed attorneys, one of the more important lessons I try to impart is that they should be clear about when and why they are doing unpaid work and insure they get paid for their remaining work. This isn’t intended to denigrate doing uncompensated work for the public good: for both ethical […]

Don’t expect the other side to pay your attorney’s fees

Folks going through marital litigation–and, less often, folks going through custody disputes– often contact me regarding representation with the expectation that the other side will be required to pay my fee and the concurrent hope that I will work without an initial retainer (or for a low retainer) based upon that expectation. These litigants assume […]

 

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