2015 may set record low in published family law opinions

2015 may set a record low in published South Carolina family law opinions. Counting a refiled opinion in Srivastava v. Srivastava, 411 S.C. 481, 769 S.E.2d 442 (Ct. App. 2015), that was originally filed in 2014, but not counting a dismissal of certiorari as improvidently granted in Hudson v. Hudson, 414 S.C. 352, 778 S.E.2d 482 (2015), there were only eight published opinions on family law last year.  A table of these eight cases with links to the opinions are below:

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There were a few other interesting opinions in 2015 that might impact family law cases. The December 2, 2015 Supreme Court opinion in Bass v. SCDSS makes it a little easier to sue DSS in tort. The August 5, 2015 Supreme Court opinion in State v. Anderson, 413 S.C. 212, 776 S.E.2d 76 (2015) held that child abuse examiners who actually examined the child at issue should not be used as expert witnesses in criminal cases. This holding probably applies to family court cases. The February 18, 2015 Court of Appeals opinion in Thomas v. 5 Star Transportation, 412 S.C. 1, 770 S.E.2d 183 (Ct. App. 2015) created a “good faith exception” to find a valid marriage where there was neither a valid ceremonial marriage nor a common law marriage.

Of these eight published opinions, three were particularly interesting. I had feared that McKinney v. Pedery, 413 S.C. 475, 776 S.E.2d 566 (2015) would be the first published South Carolina case to terminate alimony based on a “continued cohabitation,” primarily because it was an ex-husband’s alimony that was attempting to be terminated. However the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision terminating alimony. I had feared that Ricigliano v. Ricigliano, 413 S.C. 319 775 S.E.2d 701 (Ct. App. 2015) would be the first published opinion in twenty-seven years to approve rehabilitative, rather than permanent periodic, alimony, primarily because it was a husband who was being awarded alimony. Again I was pleasantly surprised to see our appellate courts applying alimony in a more gender neutral fashion. Finally Moore v. Moore, 779 S.E.2d 533 (S.C. 2015), is our Supreme Court’s attempt to provide guidance on valuing small businesses for equitable distribution purposes.

It really does not take much time to stay abreast of published opinions on South Carolina family law.

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