Archive for the ‘Contempt/Enforcement of Orders’ Category

Family court “emergencies” in the COVID-19 era

In a pair of March 18, 2020 orders, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty cancelled all family court terms of court through May 1, 2020, and limited family court proceedings to “emergency matters.” I hear from other attorneys that, with this knowledge, some parents have begun refusing visitation or refusing to return […]

Visitation denial in the COVID-19 era

COVID-19 is the first airborne global pandemic to take place since the development of specialized family courts in the United States. Never before has mandated social distancing interacted with the awesome contempt powers of family court visitation orders. Thus, I am getting numerous questions about complying with visitation orders from custodial parents who are considering […]

“Force majeure” as a defense to family court contempt

Given the impact on the new coronavirus on South Carolina businesses, I’ve had more than one client ask me about paying court-ordered support obligations at a time when their income has withered. For clients with the savings to cover a few months worth of these obligations, I tell them to keep paying. For clients who […]

What are the potential remedies for notice-based contempt pleadings?

Late last month the family court issued a contempt petition against a client of mine in which the petition was a “notice” pleading, not a “fact” pleading. For those unfamiliar with the distinction, a notice pleading (typical in the federal courts as authorized by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8), simply provides the Defendant notice […]

South Carolina child custody restraining orders I really hate

By the same process that causes attorneys’ boilerplate to grow over time–they borrow “good” ideas from other attorneys but never weed out redundant or obsolete clauses–the list of restraining orders that family court judges impose on parents continues to grow. Since many local family court judges treat violations of these restraining orders as criminal contempt–and […]

Who has the burden of proof on the willfulness element of contempt?

A few days ago I prosecuted a contempt action. The proof for one of the allegations of contempt was very document intensive and mathematical–reimbursement for unpaid medical expenses–and another was heavily reliant on exhibits. I figured that establishing violations would be easier by having my client explain the records through direct testimony rather than by cross-examining […]

South Carolina Court of Appeals opinion highlights the importance of accurate financial declarations

My clients get sick of me harping on refining and corroborating their financial declarations before we file them. In the future I will direct them to the April 5, 2017 Court of Appeals opinion in Sweeney v. Sweeney, 420 S.C. 69, 800 S.E.2d 148 (Ct. App. 2017), and remind them how both parties were harmed […]

How to enforce an attorney fee award

A few months ago my mentee observed me enforce my attorney fee award through a family court contempt proceeding. Expecting me to prove the contempt through my client’s testimony, she was surprised when I testified first and asked my client very few questions when I called him as a witness. The method attorneys typically use […]

 

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