Archive for the ‘Litigation Strategy’ Category

Shouldn’t a party’s assets be a factor in “ability to pay” family court attorney’s fees?

E.D.M. v. T.A.M., 307 S.C. 471, 476-77, 415 S.E.2d 812, 816 (1992) is the seminal South Carolina case in deciding whether to award a prevailing party attorney’s fees in family court. It lists four factors the family court should use to determine an award of fees. Excepting the “beneficial results” factor, the other three factors […]

You ain’t my only (or even final) audience: the unacknowledged revolution that Lewis and Stoney have wrought

By the start of this millennium I believe I had developed a reputation for overtrying my domestic cases: that is, I was considered an attorney who wasn’t satisfied with proving a contested fact though one source but would attempt to prove contested facts through as many sources as possible. The common byproduct of this approach […]

The unusual distribution of bi-weekly overnights in most custody trials (or why one’s unlikely to get 50/50 custody except by agreement)

When I first started trying custody cases a quarter century ago, the family court was pretty uniform, and uncreative, in its awards of visitation to the non-custodial parent. Absent a mother’s unfitness, she was very likely to get custody. Absent the non-custodial parent’s unfitness, that parent was likely to get every other weekend. If the […]

Vacating court approved agreements

Most family law attorneys will occasionally get contacted by an unhappy litigant who wishes to “appeal” his or her court approved agreement. The simple answer to that request is that “you can’t.” The “court will not entertain appeal from an order issued with parties’ consent.” Hooper v. Rockwell, 334 S.C. 281, 513 S.E.2d 358, 363 […]

Three methods of reducing the impact of an unfavorable guardian ad litem report

The typical response of an unhappy litigant to an unfavorable guardian ad litem report is to accuse the guardian of bias. While in rare instances the guardian is actually biased, more often the report is fairly accurate (reports, being the product of human beings, are rarely perfectly accurate) and the litigant is simply unhappy with […]

The only two goals of responding to discovery

There are common bad practices of responding to discovery. One often sees responses that are incomplete and only partially respond to the request. The rules of civil procedure are quite explicit that an “incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.” Such incomplete responses subject the responder to a motion to compel, […]

Materials from preparing for family court temporary hearing lecture

The following is the outline for a presentation Elizabeth Stringer, Karen Fine, and I presented at the Charleston School of Law on January 12, 2018.  Links to word drafts of the materials follow. Temporary relief SCRFC 21 Substantive relief one is seeking at the conclusion of a case that is sought prior to trial Can […]

What’s the question(s) you fear the most?

A colleague, after watching a recent presentation I did on trial preparation, emailed me his appreciation. Part of his comment, “My favorite nugget: ask my client what question does he dread being asked on the stand.” That idea was indeed a “nugget” in my presentation–something I mentioned briefly without elaborating. In my own trial preparation […]

 

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