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Nelson demonstrates the problems of inaccurate or incomplete financial disclosure when resolving equitable distribution

The August 21, 2019 Court of Appeals opinion in Nelson v. Nelson demonstrates the problems of inaccurate or incomplete financial disclosure when resolving equitable distribution issues. In Nelson both parties, but especially Husband, went to trial with incomplete or inaccurate information regarding the value of and their interest in various assets and debts, including real […]

Without an itemized statement of time, your attorney fee affidavit is incomplete

Probably once a month I attend a contested family court hearing in which the opposing counsel attempts to submit a fee affidavit without including an itemized statement of time. Most often I’ve been able to keep the family court from considering awarding the other party attorney’s fees if I object. Yet this behavior persists. In […]

Thompson finds Rule 60(b)(5), SCRCP, does not give family court subject matter jurisdiction to modify equitable distribution

The August 7, 2019 Court of Appeals opinion in Thompson v. Thompson, holds that Rule 60(b)(5), SCRCP, does not give that family court subject matter jurisdiction to modify an equitable distribution order. The Thompsons’ divorce decree approved a separation agreement providing “[a]s soon as she is able, Wife shall assume or re-finance all loans on […]

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, 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 with the marital home, the parties’ […]

South Carolina Supreme Court finally (and only prospectively) abolishes common-law marriage–and makes it harder to establish retroactive common-law marriages

A decade ago, in a blog titled, “Why won’t South Carolina end common-law marriage?,” I expressed my strong dislike of the doctrine by noting, “cases resolving the issue of whether a couple was married at common-law do not become a ‘quest for the truth’ but instead devolve into determining who is the less convincing liar,” […]

Hagood opinion establishes important points on transmutation and alimony

The July 17, 2019 Court of Appeals opinion in Hagood v. Hagood establishes important points on transmutation and alimony. It is one of the rare published opinions to reject a transmutation claim while finding a special equity interest. It is the first published opinion in twenty years to address nonmarital assets as a basis to […]

Don’t forget rebuttal

One of the biggest mistakes I see my family court colleagues making is forgoing the opportunity to present rebuttal (sometimes called reply) testimony. Rebuttal is the testimony the Plaintiff presents to rebut the testimony the Defendant presented in his or her case in chief. No attorney who handles family court appeals–and is presented with a […]

The surprising breadth of res judicata

At this point in my career, it’s rare I learn anything significant about legal doctrines from opposing counsels. However, earlier this week, I was completely schooled by an attorney, Jeffrey Thomas Watson, three years out of law school about the breadth of the res judicata doctrine. That doctrine holds that issues that have been completely […]

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