Blog

“Force majeure” as a defense to family court contempt

Given the impact on the new coronavirus on South Carolina businesses, I’ve had more than one client ask me about paying court-ordered support obligations at a time when their income has withered. For clients with the savings to cover a few months worth of these obligations, I tell them to keep paying. For clients who […]

Buying the child(ren)’s time

There’s a never discussed but occasionally employed litigation strategy of using money to purchase time with (or limit an opposing party’s access to) children. Earlier this month I settled a case in which grandparents used money to keep their own daughter from having enforceable visitation with her daughters. At the time of mediation my clients […]

Softening up an unrealistic defendant

I began trial in a visitation establishment case yesterday. While preparing for trial earlier this week my client (the plaintiff) asked me how I thought the case would end. I informed him it would likely settle halfway into my cross examination of the defendant. I was unduly pessimistic. About 15% of the way into my […]

Ninth time’s the charm

On January 16, 2020 the South Carolina Supreme Court denied certiorari in Moore v. Moore, 427 S.C. 26, 828 S.E.2d 224 (Ct. App. 2019). After eight prior published appeals denying alimony termination based upon allegations of continuing cohabitation, Moore is the first “final” published opinion in which a supporting ex-spouse successfully terminated his alimony on […]

Upcoming custody/visitation CLEs

I will be speaking at two upcoming CLEs (and moderating one) being produced by the South Carolina Bar. Both are devoted to child custody and visitation. Attendance is always appreciated, especially for the one I will be moderating. On January 31, 2020, I will be one of the speakers at the Bar’s annual guardian ad […]

2019 Published Family Court opinions summary

After a couple of years mid-decade in which South Carolina’s appellate courts published only six opinions addressing family law, 2019 produced a more robust set of opinions: eighteen, plus a refiled opinion from late-2018. Many of these opinions were highly consequential. Two Court of Appeals opinions, Singh v. Singh, and Kosciusko v. Parham, held that […]

Court of Appeals reverses equitable estoppel defense to past due child support

Continuing a very recent pattern of appellate courts disregarding the family court’s credibility determinations, the December 31, 2019, Court of Appeals opinion in Bauckman v. McLeod reversed a family court finding of equitable estoppel. In Bauckman, the parties reached a court-approved agreement in 2002 that Father would pay $399 per month in child support. In […]

Reflections on thirty years of marriage

The main thing that differentiates marriages that end in divorce from those that end when death-do-them-part is the sheer stubbornness of the parties involved…. –that and the access or lack thereof to a handy murder weapon. In my twenty-six years practicing family law, I’ve yet to have a marital dissolution case end in murder–although a […]

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