Archive for the ‘Litigation Strategy’ Category

What’s so primo about primacy?

Folks will often contact my office with a desire to file a divorce or custody case immediately, “before the other side does.” Sometimes there is a need for speed: conditions within the marriage have made continued cohabitation unsafe; the other parent is acting dangerously around the child. More often this urgency is nothing more than […]

Changes in the non-custodial parent’s income have a much bigger impact on child support than changes in the custodial parent’s income

Child support can be modified based upon a substantial change of circumstances. Common circumstances that justify a child support modification are when work-related child care expenses drop (typically when the child starts kindergarten or is old enough to no longer need after school care) or when one, but not all, of the children supported by […]

If you want peace, prepare for war

Clients often ask me, if the goal is to settle the case, why I ask them to gather substantial information or why I issue discovery from the very beginning. The Romans would have understood. They had an adage, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” Translated: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” In family law one […]

The unknown unknowns

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. Although not a fan of Donald Rumsfeld, I think he gets […]

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 […]

The codification of child custody factors is making encouragement of the other parent’s relationship with the child much more important

When South Carolina codified child custody factors in June 2012 as S.C. Code § 63-15-220, I noted,“I do not see any reason why this statute should radically alter South Carolina child custody determinations.” My experience and the anecdotal experience of my peer [to date, no appellate opinion interprets or analyzes that code section] indicates that […]

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 […]

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. […]