Archive for October, 2011

Overnight non-marital romantic companion restraints after Lawrence v. Texas

South Carolina family court judges routinely issue restraints against exposing children to a parent’s non-marital romantic companions overnight. When concerned about appearing to be moral scolds, they justify these restraints as prohibiting the children’s exposure to “illegal behavior.” The specific criminal statutes implicated by such behavior are the prohibitions against adultery (S.C. Code § 16-15-60), […]

Unclean hands as a defense to contempt

In many of the rules to show cause I prosecute, the opposing party will raise the defense of “unclean hands,” arguing that my client’s failure to fully comply with the terms of the order precludes him or her from any equitably relief in enforcing that order.  In eighteen years of practice, I’ve seen the family […]

Rearranging the deck chairs

In August I blogged about an appellate loss by my friend and colleague, Thomas F. McDow, in the case of Pittman v. Pittman.  Last week the Court of Appeals modified its opinion, 395 S.C. 209, 717 S.E.2d 88 (Ct. App. 2011).  For reasons I assume are oversight this modified opinion did not appear in the October listing […]

Court of Appeals holds mother’s abortion not relevant to custody determination (but 19 year old boyfriend is)

The October 26, 2011 Court of Appeals opinion in Purser v. Owens, 396 S.C. 531, 722 S.E.2d 225 (Ct. App. 2011), highlights the problems that result when family court judges see themselves as moral guardians rather than determiners of a child’s best interests. Purser involved an initial custody adjudication of the parties’ autistic child.  The parties were never married […]

Another reason to love South Carolina

Yesterday one of the emails from the South Carolina Judicial Department noted a CDR (Criminal Docket Report) code had been added for the offense of  “Illegal night hunting of coyotes and armadillos,” otherwise known as S.C. Code §50-11-0710(A)(3).  This subsection reads: [C]oyotes and armadillos may be hunted at night with an artificial light that is […]

Supreme Court reverses termination of parental rights where father not responsible for numerous court delays

The October 3, 2011 Supreme Court opinion in Charleston County DSS v. Marccuci, 396 S.C. 218, 721 S.E.2d 768 (2011), reverses a family court order terminating Sean Taylor’s (Father’s) parental rights.  The reversal is based, in a large part, upon a convoluted procedural history that mitigated the grounds upon which the lower court based the termination of parental […]

Rethinking my opposition to family court arbitration

For a few years my friend and colleague, Barry W. Knobel of Knobel Mediation Services, LLC, has been encouraging me to rethink my opposition to family court arbitration.  Barry is a retired family court judge–thus my frequent, joking references to him as “the formerly honorable…”.  He now makes his living doing family court mediation and […]


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