Archive for the ‘Litigation Strategy’ Category

Should one execute a formal agreement at the conclusion of mediation?

A frequent debate among my family law colleagues is whether one should have one’s client execute a formal agreement before concluding mediation if one has reached an agreement-in-principal during mediation. There’s no right answer to this issue–just pros and cons with each position. The benefit of having a formal executed agreement is that it mitigates […]

Negotiating with a gun to one’s head

The family court won’t approve agreements that are obtained through coercion. However, “coercion” in this legal sense is quite different, and much more limited, than what coercion means to the general public. If one executed an agreement with a literal gun to one’s head one could repudiate that agreement before or at the hearing to […]

Getting the child’s items returned at the end of visitation

Recently I prosecuted a rule to show cause in which one of my client’s goal was to get her child’s items returned. The father’s visitation had been cut short and he failed to return the child’s clothes and electronics when the visitation ended. Since these were clothes and electronics that my client had purchased, and […]

File an answer at or before the temporary hearing

One of the odd procedural quirks of South Carolina family law is that one can have a hearing seeking temporary substantive relief as part of a family court lawsuit long before the time to file a response to that lawsuit has passed. That is because under Rule 21(a) of the Family Court Rules one can […]

Litigating child custody does not, by itself, create personal jurisdiction for child support

Due to an increasingly mobile society, child custody litigation often moves to different states over a child’s minority. When both parents and the child no longer live in the state that issued the most recent child support order, or when the issuing state declines modification jurisdiction because the child has been absent from the state […]

Remedies for the evasive deposition witness

Few areas of litigation practice are more frustrating than deposing an evasive, hostile or obnoxious witness. In the courtroom setting, a witness who acts these ways will be admonished by a judge to stop. If the witness continues that behavior, criminal contempt–sending the witness briefly to jail until he or she behaves–is an available sanction. […]

Checklist of questions whose answers can derail a custody or visitation case

I tried a custody case last month in which I learned a few weeks prior to trial that my client was using marijuana approximately once a month. What had previously seemed a strong case for custody no longer was. While many of the issues that can derail a South Carolina custody case seem pretty obvious, […]

Why file for separate maintenance when one doesn’t have grounds for divorce?

Separate maintenance is the action one files with the family court when one is no longer living with one’s spouse but one doesn’t yet have grounds for divorce. This occurs when one doesn’t have fault grounds for divorce (physical cruelty; habitual intoxication; adultery) but hasn’t been separated for the one-year period that allows for a […]