Archive for the ‘Of Interest to Family Court Litigants’ Category

Softening up an unrealistic defendant

I began trial in a visitation establishment case yesterday. While preparing for trial earlier this week my client (the plaintiff) asked me how I thought the case would end. I informed him it would likely settle halfway into my cross examination of the defendant. I was unduly pessimistic. About 15% of the way into my […]

Ninth time’s the charm

On January 16, 2020 the South Carolina Supreme Court denied certiorari in Moore v. Moore, 427 S.C. 26, 828 S.E.2d 224 (Ct. App. 2019). After eight prior published appeals denying alimony termination based upon allegations of continuing cohabitation, Moore is the first “final” published opinion in which a supporting ex-spouse successfully terminated his alimony on […]

2019 Published Family Court opinions summary

After a couple of years mid-decade in which South Carolina’s appellate courts published only six opinions addressing family law, 2019 produced a more robust set of opinions: eighteen, plus a refiled opinion from late-2018. Many of these opinions were highly consequential. Two Court of Appeals opinions, Singh v. Singh, and Kosciusko v. Parham, held that […]

Court of Appeals reverses equitable estoppel defense to past due child support

Continuing a very recent pattern of appellate courts disregarding the family court’s credibility determinations, the December 31, 2019, Court of Appeals opinion in Bauckman v. McLeod reversed a family court finding of equitable estoppel. In Bauckman, the parties reached a court-approved agreement in 2002 that Father would pay $399 per month in child support. In […]

A second Court of Appeals panel finds family court cannot enforce custody issues decided by arbitration

Argued first but decided second, the December 18, 2019 Court of Appeals opinion in Singh v. Singh confirms what a November 6, 2019 Court of Appeals opinion in Kosciusko v. Parham, 428 S.C. 481, 836 S.E.2d 362 (Ct. App. 2019), previously determined: the family court cannot enforce custody issues decided by arbitration. With no judges […]

Is there a ceiling on alimony or child support?

An issue more philosophical than legal is whether there should be a ceiling on alimony and (especially) child support awards. On one hand, alimony (and to some extent child support) is intended to allow the spouse or child to enjoy a similar lifestyle to a high-income spouse or parent. On the other hand, why should […]

The difficulties of predicting alimony reduction on retirement

In 2012 South Carolina passed a statute, S.C. Code § 20-3-170(B), in which one subsection set forth criteria for the family courts to consider when modifying alimony upon a supporting spouse’s retirement. One assumed the goal was to create greater certainty and uniformity for retirement-based alimony reduction/termination cases. However this subsection lists six factors for […]

Marital property as lump sum alimony

There are occasionally cases in which a spouse who would typically pay significant permanent periodic alimony as part of a marital dissolution has destroyed his career around the time of the parties’ separation. Often this career destruction was the cause of the marital dissolution: a spouse charged with a crime that leaves him incarcerated or […]

 

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