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The myth of the ironclad prenuptial agreement

Intolerable Cruelty, a lesser Coen Brothers movie, follows the courtship of an over-slick, high-powered divorce lawyer and a man-eating gold-digger, as they take turns getting over on the other. The plot’s Macguffin is the “Massey Pre-Nup,” an allegedly ironclad agreement that has never been successfully challenged. It is, obviously, a work of fiction. Most folks seeking […]

Illiterate family court attorneys?

Whence came the South Carolina family court habit of pleading for procedural relief in initial pleadings? When I learned to draft pleadings in law school we didn’t plead for procedural relief. When I started my career doing personal injury law, we didn’t plead for procedural relief. If we needed procedural relief we filed motions. Yet, […]

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 […]

Best methods for equalizing physical custody

There are some custody cases that will only settle if both parties get equal time with the child(ren). Thus a sizable subset of custody cases settle with both parties getting at least 180 overnights a year. There are numerous ways one could theoretically create such a custody schedule but many of them are, frankly, stupid. […]

What do we mean by custody?

Parents come to my office wanting to litigate custody. Often they are not sure what it means but they know they want it. Terms like “sole custody,” “shared custody,” “joint custody,” and “primary custody” get mentioned and folks want to know what these terms mean. I really can’t answer. One reason I can’t answer is […]

Was there wisdom in the “tender years” doctrine

There is no doubt that the “tender years” doctrine–which favored granting mothers custody of young children–would not pass constitutional muster in the 21st century. Such gender based classifications cannot survive strict scrutiny as there is no “compelling governmental interest” that favors mothers over fathers in determinations of infant custody and, even if there were, a […]

Two recent interesting unpublished family law opinions

I rarely blog about unpublished opinions because even when they are interesting, and even when they should have been published, they rarely do anything other than restate legal principals that have been established in published opinions. However two recent unpublished family court opinions make new law–or would make law if they were published and therefore […]

The legislative paternalism of South Carolina’s name change law

When my wife was a social worker at a local hospital she once acted as a case manager for a mother giving birth to twins. That mother had allowed her five year-old son to name the newborns. Thus, there are teenage twins running around the LowCountry with the names “Bubba” and “Mufasa.” No South Carolina […]

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