Monthly Archives: October 2015

The (Unintended) Consequences Of Mandatory Mediation In The Family Courts – Part 1 [The Judges’ Side -Trying To “Outrun The Numbers” And The 365-Day Benchmark Rule]

For a number of years now, but most significantly from around 2004 to the present, the family court system in this State became a seemingly never-ending process of trying to “outrun the numbers”; that is, the now 58 active family court judges were (and continue to be) each tasked with hearing and deciding approximately 3,000+ cases per year, which included, but were not necessarily limited to, motion hearings, contempt hearings, juvenile hearings, DSS hearings, child support hearings, domestic abuse hearings, pro se filings, bench warrants, and contested final hearings…and that was just a judge’s standard “in-court” work, and not his/her “in camera” requirements.

With the implementation of the revised August 27, 2014 “365-day Benchmark Rule” it was the obvious intent of that South Carolina Supreme Court order to force litigants and attorneys (the “attorneys’ side”), not necessarily to have completed the litigation within a 365-day period of its commencement (i.e., filing) date but, to have requested a final hearing within 365 days of the commencement date.  However, the flip side of that “benchmark” (the “judges’ side”) was clearly intended to give another “arrow in the quiver” – albeit a draconian one – to the chief administrative family court judges in controlling/reducing the number of pending cases by providing for the absolute dismissal of any case which failed to comply with the 365-day timeline requirements imposed by this benchmark order.

Provided you not tell anyone, I’ll let you in on a secret:

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