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Like blind men boxing

I often suggest to newly licensed attorneys wanting to learn how to practice a particular area of law that they go to the courthouse and observe a variety of cases within that field of law. While to practice in court without a supervising attorney merely requires an attorney to observe one family court trial, attorney’s […]

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 […]

Where should one enforce a support order when the obligor resides elsewhere?

A common dilemna in family law is enforcing a support order when the obligor no longer resides in the issuing state. There are two reasonable ways of resolving the matter. One option is to enforce the order in the issuing state and, if necessary, register the resulting enforcement order in the obligor’s state of residence. […]

Is it really better to beg forgiveness than ask permission?

Early in my career one of my most trusted mentors would counsel me when I asked her about filing a motion or complaint in the family court before having my client take an action that I thought might upset the opposing party: “it is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission”. Google that phrase and […]

Should custody be dealt with in a separate order?

I recently completed a divorce case in which all issues other than child custody settled in the middle of trial. With the court’s permission, I drafted a separate final order addressing the ground for divorce, property division, and spousal support. When the judge issued her final ruling, I drafted a separate final order addressing custody. […]

Once trial starts the attorney is the director and the litigant is merely an actor

I was recently preparing for a trial with a litigant who was filled with good ideas but wanted to be the medium to express all those ideas. We had jointly developed a strategy we hoped might achieve the client’s goals. We had jointly prepared testimony outlines for all the witnesses, including his own testimony and […]

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 […]

The more things change…. (ode to the Fish House Punch)

1732 Philadelphia: A gentlemen’s boating club on the Schuylkill River is planning its annual Christmas party. For the first time in its history ladies will be welcome. Colonial America is a drinking culture and cocktails are a mid-19th century invention. Punch will be served. To commemorate the occasion these gentlemen decide to invent a new […]

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