Posts Tagged ‘Litigation Strategy’

“I don’t know/recall” may be the best interrogatory or deposition answer you can get

I lectured last week to recent law school graduates about family law discovery. Part of this lecture discussed Rule 37(a)(3), SCRCP which reads: “Evasive or Incomplete Answer. For purposes of this subdivision an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.” I remarked this rule meant that they should not […]

Why join stepparents as opposing parties to family court proceedings?

The short answer is discovery. While I understand the logic of joining stepparents as parties to custody or visitation proceedings when that stepparent will not behave around the child(ren), I remain convinced it is bad strategy. Not only does it double the number of adversarial parties, it allows the stepparent to participate in all the […]

Why not divide up legal custody?

Deciding who will have legal custody–final decision making authority for a child–can be one of the more contentious issues in custody cases. Often one parent wants final decision making authority to “validate” his or her superior parenting. More often, and not mutually exclusive with the desire for validation, one parent wants the right to control […]

Using opposing parties’ evasive discovery responses against them

Often opposing parties will respond to discovery with evasion: giving answers that respond to some, slightly different allegation; providing lengthy responses to “yes/no” questions without really stating “yes” or “no”; citing a lack of knowledge to answer a question that, given their litigation posture, they really should be able to answer. The Rules of Civil […]

Acknowledging the obvious

In responding to discovery or pleadings, some of the responses, if accurate, will bolster the other party’s case.  Clients, even (especially) sophisticated clients, often balk at issuing a formal response that, although accurate, bolsters the other party’s case. Sometimes these clients will want to issue an evasive response. Occasionally they will want to issue an […]

Respecting the ongoing duty to supplement written discovery responses

South Carolina case law recognizes the fundamental importance of discovery to preparing a lawsuit for trial: The primary objective of discovery is to ensure that lawsuits are decided by what the facts reveal, not by what facts are concealed. The entire thrust of our discovery rules involves full and fair disclosure, to prevent a trial […]

That ship has sailed (or implicitly condoning past child abuse or neglect)

A decent subset of my custody and visitation cases have one parent raising abuse or neglect allegations that predate an agreement (whether a temporary consent order or an agreement incorporated into a final order). While not trying to be heartless, the best advice I can typically give these clients is “that ship has sailed.” There […]

The problems in splitting children’s expenses based upon undefined “pro rata income shares”

I have recently encountered a number of court-approved child support agreements in which child-related expenses are divided upon undefined “pro rata [Latin for “in proportion”] income shares.” Often these agreements were negotiated or drafted by experienced family law attorneys. While the intent is well meaning, the language causes serious problems. Without knowing how “pro rata” […]