Monthly Archives: October 2014

Practicing Family Law In The 21st Century – Series Post No. 3: Solving The “College Expense” Conundrum – A Form For Your Agreements

If you were practicing family law in South Carolina prior to 1979, then you were able to advise your clients, with some reasonable degree of certainty and with only certain limited exceptions (such as a child’s disability), that when their child reached the age of 18 and became an “adult”, the parents’ legal obligation to provide court-ordered financial support for that child ended.

And then this happened …

In 1979, the South Carolina Supreme Court, in the then precedent-setting case of Risinger v. Risinger, determined that a parent’s potential court-ordered obligation to provide child support for his or her child did not necessarily stop at the “water’s edge of adulthood”, but rather, if that 18-year old child decided to go to college (or have a “post-secondary education”), then both that child’s decision and his or her college-related expenses could be considered “an exceptional circumstance” under the now-repealed Section 14-21-810(b)(4), SCCA, [this code section was replaced by the current Section 63-3-530(A)(17)] which supported the family court’s authority to require the parents to continue to provide college-related financial assistance for that child, as a matter of law.

And from 1979 until 2010, that issue was settled law in South Carolina – stare decisis.

And then this happened …… Continue reading

Practing Family Law In The 21st Century – Series Post No. 2: “In The Law The Power Of Clear Statement Is Everything”

A number of years ago I wrote an article for a legal publication, and in that article I made the following statement:

“First of all, there is one universal maxim in the practice of family law: The judges’ orders are the beating heart of every case…no other documents in the case file are more important. You can have a “banker’s box” full of pre-trial motions, discovery, and work product, and you can try a case for days on end, but at the conclusion of that case (and every hearing involved in that case) nothing happens until your family court judge both signs and enters his or her order in the clerk’s office.”

If at the conclusion of your family court hearing (either at a pendente lite stage or after a multi-day trial) you are the “prevailing attorney” and you’ve been instructed by your judge to draft his or her “proposed order”, the following should be your mindset throughout your “crafting” process: Continue reading