Archive for October, 2013

Court of Appeals reverses finding of contempt, finding Mother’s non-compliance not willful

The October 30, 2013 Court of Appeals opinion in Ward v. Washington, 406 S.C. 249, 750 S.E.2d 105 (Ct. App. 2013), reversed a finding of contempt despite Mother’s non-compliance in denying Father Labor Day visitation because it found Mother’s non-compliance wasn’t willful. In 2009 the parties reached an agreement that modified Father’s visitation from a 2007 […]

Are you cross-examining that witness for mistake, bias or corruption?

Recently one of my prior mentees was regaling me with the story of his first custody trial.  One of his concerns was his overly confrontational cross-examination of the guardian ad litem, who is a local attorney we both like.  He was unhappy with the conclusions in her report, and was attempting to undermine that report […]

The Fantastic Mr. Fox and the allure of risk-taking masculinity

Practice family law with any degree of passion and intellectual curiosity and you will naturally turn into an amateur marriage counselor and sociologist.  One cannot understand one’s clients without understanding what makes marriages work or not work.  I continuously contemplate how our culture might be restructured to make humans happier and make the stabilizing institutions […]

What can and can’t be fixed by a family court appeal

Folks sometimes consult with me shortly before their case is going to trial to obtain a second opinion.  Typically they are either unhappy with the advice they are receiving from their current attorney, and want to know whether that advice is accurate before deciding whether to accept it, or they want to know what additional […]

Don Jon’s refreshingly mature take on male sexuality

SPOILER ALERTS Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, has been getting solid reviews for its portrayal of the maturation of a twenty-something, working-class Jersey guy.  Most of reviews focus on the film’s pronounced pornography aspect.  Levitt’s character, Don, and his bros are stuck at a maturity level in which women are debated and rated for […]

When does a judge’s ruling become a valid order?

Early in my family court career I used to debate with my colleagues as to when a family judge’s ruling became valid. The (super-)majority view was that these rulings became valid when the judge issued his or her ruling (whether orally or in a memo form). Some felt the “order” became valid when the judge […]


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