Archive for August, 2012

Is there a conflict in the equitable distribution statutes on whether property acquired post-filing but before the entry of a temporary order is marital property?

South Carolina Code § 20-3-610 indicates that the marital estate is created “at the time marital litigation is filed or commenced…”  Yet S.C. Code § 20-3-630(A)(2)(a) lists as part of the exclusions from the marital estate, “property acquired by either party before the marriage and property acquired after the happening of the earliest of: (a) […]

Dumpster diving the family court files

When I first started practicing family law an early mentor, William J. Hamilton, III, told me that, “the evidence for a thousand divorces lies in the family court files.”  What he meant is that many an adultery divorce was obtained without the spouse of the other party to the adultery being aware of the infidelity. […]

Equalizing incomes doesn’t always equalize lifestyles

In setting alimony for really long marriages (30+ years) the family courts sometime try to equalize incomes.  In cases in which both parties are retired and living off retirement and social security this equalization approach seems just.  When two people have spent almost their entire adult lives together both should be able to live their […]

Fighting the wrong battle on transmutation

I attended a mediation training yesterday in which one of the exercises dealt with the issue of “transmutation,” the process by which non-marital property becomes marital because the property owner demonstrates an intent to treat the property as marital. The two examples of possible transmutation were wife’s pre-marital rental home that she had deeded a […]

The feminization of family law

Two generations ago there were few woman lawyers.  The early career paths of our first female Supreme Court Justices, Sandra Day O’Connor (Stanford 1952) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Columbia 1959), were limited by their gender.  Reading their biographies produces profound admiration for the obstacles they overcame in reaching the pinnacle of our profession.  Despite being […]

Free CLE on “Financial Issues in Family Law”

On October 12, 2012 from 1:00 to 4:45 p.m. there will be a free three-hour CLE on “Financial Issues in Family Law” (Course # 126447) at the Charleston County Courthouse’s Jury Assembly Room.  This CLE will be conducted by Cindy MacAulay, Richard Livingston, and Jeremy Gilbert of Dixon Hughes Goodman and is aimed at a beginner/intermediate […]

The limited utility of “hold harmless” provisions of separation agreements for negative-equity real estate

Sometime around 2007 I encountered a situation involving a marital home I not previously dealt with: negative equity.  Prior to 2007 unhappily married folks often sold their home and used some of their equity to pay their separation attorneys to resolve their remaining marital issues.  However, in this case, the man consulting with me had […]

Supreme Court clarifies South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure 3 and 15

The August 15, 2012 Supreme Court opinion in Mims v. Babcock Center, 399 S.C. 341, 732 S.E.2d 395 (2012), clarifies issues of civil procedure that have occasionally come up in my family law practice. Rule 3, SCRCP, reads “A civil action is commenced when the summons and complaint are filed with the clerk of court if: (1) […]


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