Archive for the ‘Not South Carolina Specific’ Category

Best practices in responding to requests for production

I spend a lot of time struggling to get opposing attorneys to fully respond to requests for production. Often it’s hard to tell if the response is adequate because often the response is not clear. Vague request for production responses can be treated as a failure to respond. See Rule 37(a)(3), SCRCP (“an evasive or […]

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 […]

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 […]

Is the lack of a set notice requirement in the UCCJEA a feature or a bug?

In 2008 South Carolina went from the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The updated statute was largely an improvement. It includes limitation upon the exercise of “emergency jurisdiction” so that an emergency cannot be used to give a state permanent jurisdiction. It provided powerful […]

Locking the barn doors after the horse has escaped

There are a half dozen critical moments in each family court case when having an experienced attorney is critical: motions for temporary relief; contempt actions; mediation; when trial is scheduled; trial; and when post-trial motions are due. A motion for temporary relief is often outcome determinative. The party obtaining favorable results can likely keep those […]

Betting on an estranged spouse’s untimely demise

In the first twenty years of my practice it was rare that a party died in the middle of divorce litigation or within a few years of the divorce. The few times this happened there were obvious warning signs: either a history of serious mental illness including suicidal ideations, or addiction to dangerous narcotics–typically opiates. […]

(Unwittingly) Coaching the children

To most people “coaching” children in the context of custody and visitation cases is telling a child to lie to the judge (or the guardian, or a mental health professional/forensic evaluator) about that party’s or the other parent’s behavior. Two classic (but overstated) examples are telling kids to lie about sexual or physical abuse in […]