For the South Carolina family court bench and family court bar, the South Carolina Court of Appeals in its published opinion in the case of Kosciusko v. Parham, S.C.Ct.App., Opinion No. 5690, filed November 6, 2019, (1) immediately compelled the cancellation of every scheduled binding arbitration where the issues for resolution were “child-related” [e.g., the school to be attended by the child; or the extracurricular activities in which a child could participate; etc.]; (2) immediately sent the family law attorney rushing to pull a file where a client’s court-approved settlement agreement had included a provision “compelling binding arbitration” in the event of the parents’ impasse on any child-related issue; (3) gave immediate pause to any sitting family court judge who, at some point during the trial of a case and while on the record, might have announced to the party-litigants that “I need to hear from the guardian ad litem who I consider to be the eyes and ears of the court”; and (4) required family law attorneys to determine what ADR “alternatives” now remained available to the attorney in the resolution of complex child-related issues given, perhaps, a client’s limited financial resources to wage seemingly unending litigation between warring parents.
Kosciusko v. Parham concluded by stating the following: “Based on the foregoing, we hold that the family court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction to sanction or approve binding arbitration of children’s issues. …”.
Although there is so much to “unpack” within Kosciusko, I found the following excerpts to be the beating heart of this opinion: