Note: A number of years ago I had written an article which I was fortunate to have published in the SC Lawyer magazine centering on the significance of family court orders. Of interest (at least to me) is that even now I have continued to “cross paths” with family court orders which might be problematic to the attorneys and their clients; and so I thought that some of you family court attorneys out there might have and take the time to read what I had described as a “cautionary tale”, hoping that you might find something helpful to you. Good luck out there. [Disclaimer: this article is longer than a more “typical” blog.]
” Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; all mimsy were the borogroves, and the mome raths outgrabe. Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the brumious Bandersnatch!”*
[*“Jabberwocky” (in part) from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” (1872 by Lewis Carroll): “When Alice has finished reading the poem she gives her impressions: ‘It seems very pretty’, she said when she had finished it, ‘but it’s rather hard to understand! (You see she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas – only I don’t exactly know what they are!’ ]
Did you read this, and did you understand what it says…and what it means? And are you certain the opposing attorney and his or her client understood it? Perfect. You’ve just sent your family court judge your proposed order for the judge to sign.
When you sent the “proposed order” to the judge, what exactly did you want the order to accomplish, and what result did you seek? Did you want to sound smart? Did you want the order to sound or be purposely vague? Were you guessing at what the judge had ordered and instructed? Did you try to cleverly add several “findings” or “conclusions” or (please say no) slip in some additional relief for your client that the judge never ordered?
Answer this question for me: in order of priorities from the list below, what do you believe is most important to your family court judge after the conclusion of your case?
- Making certain the proposed order accurately states the judge’s ruling?
- Making certain the proposed order is grammatically correct, with the judge’s name spelled correctly?
- Making certain the proposed order is sent to the judge as soon after the hearing or trial as possible?
- Making certain that if you cited statutes or appellate court opinions in the proposed order, they were a correct statement of the law applicable to the judge’s ruling?
- Making certain the proposed order, as to form, complied with the South Carolina Rules of Family Court or the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure?
- All of the above?
- Any of the above?