Archive for the ‘South Carolina Specific’ Category

What the guardian should expect from the attorneys/What attorneys should expect from the guardian

The following are materials for an upcoming Charleston County guardian ad litem luncheon.  I am posting them as a blog so that folks can comment.  I often “recycle” lectures, so comments may be used to update the materials. A lot of the bickering between attorneys and guardians is because, outside of the private guardian ad litem […]

Patterns in 2016 Published South Carolina Family Court opinions

For the past six years I’ve done an annual recap of the prior year’s South Carolina published family court appeals. It’s an opportunity for me to observe patterns that I may not have observed in reviewing each published opinion discretely and shortly after its release. After a slow start (two published opinions in the first […]

Insufficient guardian investigation causes Court of Appeals to reverse termination of parental rights

The December 30, 2016 Court of Appeals opinion in SCDSS v. Nelson reversed the termination of Mother’s parental rights primarily because the guardian ad litem had conducted an insufficient investigation. In Nelson, DSS removed Mother’s three children in September 2013 because she was living with her sister in a roach-infested home without running water, lights, […]

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.  Sometimes 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 821, […]

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. Tran, 792 S.E.2d 254 (S.C.App. 2016), 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 […]