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Supreme Court holds order establishing common-law marriage is immediately appealable

The April 3, 2019 Supreme Court opinion in Stone v. Thompson addresses the appealability of final orders from bifurcated proceedings for marital dissolution when a common-law marriage is alleged. Stone filed an action in the family court to establish a common-law marriage and for equitable distribution of marital property. The family court bifurcated the proceedings […]

Supreme Court acknowledges investment income is a factor in awarding alimony but affirms alimony award in which family court declined to set a specific figure for such income

The March 20, 2019, South Carolina Supreme Court opinion in Sweeney v. Sweeney “establishes” something I had assumed was already well established: in setting alimony, the family court should consider investment income available to the parties. After all, the sixth alimony factor is “the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses.” S.C. Code Ann. […]

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 […]

Court of Appeals reverses family court’s finding of child abandonment

e January 13, 2019 Court of Appeals revered a family court’s finding that adoptive parents abandoned their teenage child in the case of SCDSS v. Wiseman. The case began when the daughter got into a verbal, and then physical, altercation with her parents. Law enforcement intervened and transported the child to a short-term psychiatric unit. […]

What are you communicating with your proposed parenting plan?

In 2012, South Carolina revised its child custody statutes and added a provision requiring proposed parenting plans at temporary hearings. This parenting plan asks each party to propose a bi-weekly, holiday, electronic, and summer visitation schedule, address legal custody, describe requested restraints, and note any other custody concerns the family court should be aware of. […]

Whose “morality” dictates what is in the best interests of the child?

South Carolina case law from as recently as May 2018 holds that the morality of a parent is a proper factor for consideration in custody determinations, limited in its force to what relevancy it has, either directly or indirectly, to the welfare of the child. The problem with this case law is that it leaves […]

The most obvious malpractice there is in South Carolina family law

About five years ago–after being burned for the umpteenth time by entering a temporary consent order binding my client to a temporary support without first obtaining a financial declaration from the opposing party, only to subsequently learn that the other party’s income and expenses would not have justified such generous support–I vowed never again to […]

Outline of “Preparing for a Family Court Trial”

In August 2017, I lectured at the Charleston School of Law on “Preparing for a Family Court Trial.” The lecture outline has never been published. Some might consider it a handy trial preparation cheat sheet. Those who do are welcome to download it.

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