Category Archives: Parenting Plans

Noojin v. Noojin – The 2016 South Carolina Family Law Case Of The Year

If you practice family law in South Carolina, then you may agree that it is a rare occasion when our appellate courts publish an opinion during any given calendar year which changes the trajectory of how we practice family law.  More often than not, a published opinion tends to validate our collective understanding of how we are to micromanage various aspects of the clients’ cases moving forward (such as, the Wannamaker v. Wannamaker, 395 S.C. 592, 719 S.E.2d 261 (Ct.App.2011) case, which recognized the family court judge’s discretion in valuing a spouse’s retirement account based on that party’s actual contributions into the account rather than valuing it based on a “present value” computation of a forensic expert; or perhaps the Roof v. Steele, 413 S.C. 543, 776 S.E.2d 392 (Ct.App.2015) or Woods v. Woods, S.C.Ct.App. Opinion No. 5430, filed July 27, 2016 cases, which (once again) discussed the various factors applicable to an alimony modification case; or perhaps the Buist v. Buist, 410 S.C. 569, 766 S.E.2d 381 (2014) case, which addressed the factors in awarding – or challenging the award of – attorney’s fees).

However, there are also those occasions when our appellate courts publish opinions which were impactful enough to have forced us to rethink, refocus, and reprocess (1) the way in which we advised clients in the preparation of their family court case, (2) the way in which we prepared the evidence and testimony for the trial of those cases, and (3) the way in which we actually conducted ourselves inside the courtroom at motion hearings or during trial.  And the notion that there is, most probably, a trajectory-changing “case of the year”  lead me down a path of reviewing the various family law opinions published by our South Carolina Supreme Court and South Carolina Court of Appeals from 2011 through 2016, and I came up with my own personal “list of favorites” below (you have the absolute right to disagree with my selections…and choose your own).

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Comprehensive Parenting Plan Format – As Revised – 2015

This blog will be atypically brief so that I can get to the point and purpose of it.

As I have stated (and often repeated), the practice of family law in South Carolina – and, indeed, across this nation – requires that in your representing families and children in crisis at perhaps the most vulnerable times in their lives, you must constantly put into play a dazzling array of personal and professional traits and skills; and because family law attorneys cannot foretell the future nor guarantee perfection in the “results”, the best we can ever hope to achieve is to practice our craft at the highest levels of performance.

We do that by our constant search for the right answers.

There’s a passage in a longer quotation to which I often refer – “make your decisions as wisely as possible and then forget about them, because the moment of absolute certainty never arrives”.  And to this quote I can add: in life, you’ll never learn anything by just asking questions … it’s only when you’ve searched for, and found, your answers will you have truly learned something.

Family law attorneys learn by:

  • never being satisfied that you’ve found the “right” answer;
  • always researching all available legal references and resources, including frequent visits to the internet;
  • attending CLEs where you can actually learn something new, and not just “get your hours”;
  • never hesitating to contact your colleagues for advice and information;
  • constantly trying to keep abreast of new statutes, appellate court decisions (both published and unpublished), court rules, administrative rules, and the local trial and procedure practices favored by the judges in your judicial circuits; and
  • constantly gathering and gleaning information and materials from the work product of your fellow attorneys.

In 2013, I added a “parenting plan format” to the “articles” menu of my website, and over the past several years that form has received a pretty good number of “hits”.  However, several months ago I began working on a revised and much more comprehensive format with an objective of creating something more extensive and detailed, while still trying to keep the format “user friendly”.  And today, January 1, 2015, I’m posting this blog and inviting any of you who might be interested to visit this link and use these materials in any way you believe they will be beneficial to you and your family law practice.

And let me add my standard “disclaimer” that, as with anything written, I always consider these forms a “work in progress”; and, consequently, over time and as the law or circumstances change or warrant, I will always be making modifications to them, and I will always welcome, respect, and benefit from, your comments and criticisms.

Here is the link:  Comprehensive Parenting Plan Format – As Revised – 2015