Archive for the ‘Mediation/Alternative Dispute Resolution’ Category

South Carolina Court of Appeals holds arbitration orders regarding children’s issues are void ab initio

Many family law attorneys in the Charleston area were awaiting the Court of Appeals decision in Singh v. Singh, which was argued there this February. That appeal was supposed to determine whether child issues in family court could be arbitrated. While many family law attorneys were allowing such issues to be arbitrated, other family law […]

Selecting a mediator: what are your goals?

Unlike a guardian ad litem–whose work product and testimony may impact a judge’s decision at trial–the only thing the court will hear from the mediator is that mediation took place, what issues were mediated, and what issues remain unresolved. In this respect the choice of mediator has no bearing on the outcome of the trial. […]

May approves reformation of a court-approved equitable distribution agreement based upon an alleged mutual mistake

The July 24, 2019 Court of Appeals opinion in May v. May, 833 S.E.2d 78 (S.C. App. 2019), upheld the family court’s reformation of a court-approved separation agreement based upon the mediator’s scrivener’s error and an alleged mutual mistake. In May, the parties entered a separation agreement drafted by the mediator. In a provision dealing […]

How pro se litigants can best prepare for family law mediations

Most pro se family court litigants are pro se either because they cannot afford attorneys or do not want the contentious litigation that they assume is the natural result of retaining separate attorneys. Often these litigants will use a mediator to help them resolve their disputes. The following suggestions can help such litigants make the […]

Mediator or messenger

During the past few weeks two attorneys I greatly respect have conducted mediations for my clients. One mediator settled every single case, often in circumstances in which I thought reaching settlement would be difficult. The other attorney failed to obtain a settlement in a case that frankly should have settled without much difficulty. This had […]

Getting arbitration awards turned into court orders (or preventing it from happening)

Many of my colleagues are turning to arbitration to resolve family law disputes. Few seem aware that an arbitrator’s award does not automatically become a valid court order. South Carolina’s Uniform Arbitration Act, Title 15, Chapter 48, sets forth procedures to challenge or obtain court approval of an arbitration award. S.C. Code §15-48-120 addresses “Confirmation […]

Not all cases need to settle

A few weeks ago one of my cases was mediated by a retired family court judge. It began with the her talking privately to me and the other attorney. In the previous months opposing counsel and I had tried two cases to verdict. I mentioned that to our mediator, who replied that she thought, “more […]

An aggressive mediator is a hammer but not every case is a nail

The model of mediation we were all taught in the family court mediation training has the parties sitting together with the mediator in one room, while the mediator, tapping into the parties’ latent empathy skills and powers of rationality, kindly guides the participants into a mutually satisfying agreement. At the end everyone sings Kumbaya (just […]

 

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