Archive for the ‘South Carolina Specific’ Category

Court of Appeals holds order from bifurcated trial finding common law marriage is not immediately appealable

The issue of what family court orders are immediately appealable can be confusing. Typically final orders need to be appealed immediately, even if that order does not end the case. For example, orders from contempt actions need to be appealed immediately even if the case is ongoing. Arnal v. Arnal, 363 S.C. 268, 609 S.E.2d […]

How to enforce an attorney fee award

A few months ago my mentee observed me enforce my attorney fee award through a family court contempt proceeding. Expecting me to prove the contempt through my client’s testimony, she was surprised when I testified first and asked my client very few questions when I called him as a witness. The method attorneys typically use […]

Disciplinary opinion clarifies rules on records subpoenas in family court

#79 on my November 14, 2011 list of “One hundred things I don’t know about South Carolina family law,” reads, “Can one issue subpoenas duces tecum without an order of discovery?” The November 16, 2016 Supreme Court disciplinary opinion in In the Matter of Margaret D. Fabri answers that question in the negative. In Fabri, […]

Wife’s lack of corroborating evidence mostly dooms her appeal

In the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story “Adventure of the Silver Blaze,” Sherlock Holmes deduces the identity of the thief, in part, by noting that a dog did not bark, indicating the thief was no stranger. Holmes understood that the absence of evidence can be as telling as evidence itself. This is often true in […]

Court of Appeals vacates removal and TPR orders due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction

In the October 10, 2016 opinion in SCDSS v. Ngoc Tran, the South Carolina Court of Appeals vacated the family court’s removal order and termination of parental rights order, finding that DSS had failed to establish subject matter jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. Initially I thought the Court of Appeals was correct–even stating the same to […]

Five years of litigation, all for naught

Pity poor Lori Stoney, a fellow member of the Charleston County family court bar, and the appellant in the July 27, 2016 Court of Appeals opinion in Stoney v. Stoney, 417 S.C. 345, 790 S.E.2d 31 (Ct. App. 2016).  After waiting over 20 months from oral argument to the decision, the Court of Appeals simply […]

Court of Appeals partially reduces Husband’s alimony reduction in case Husband probably wishes he never filed

One of my harder tasks practicing family law in South Carolina is advising ex-spouses with alimony obligations whether and how much their obligation might change based on reduced income. The July 27, 2016 Court of Appeals opinion in Woods v. Woods  790 S.E.2d 906 (S.C. App. 2016) does not provide additional clarity on this topic. […]

Obtaining electronically stored information in electronically stored format

A common idea among litigators is that an excellent way to hide damaging information is to produce it with a whole bunch of innocuous information. There’s even an informal term for it: data dumping. Producing thousands of pages of financial or cell phone records in a paper format requires the requesting party to laboriously search […]