There are many ways to accomplish the same Family Court goal: settlement or litigation

There is more than one way to accomplish most Family Court goals:  settlement  or litigation

By M. J. Goodwin


I served as mediator in three cases last week.  Two out of the three cases were able to resolve their differences and settle their litigation.   During this process, I noticed how differently people’s minds work at coming to similar outcomes.  The cases all involved children and all the parents wanted what is best for their child.  When they came to mediation, they disagreed on what exactly was the best custodial and visitation arrangement for their children.  But they all agreed that it would be better to resolve their own differences rather than have a Judge hear a limited amount of evidence and make a decision that will affect them forever.  Two of the three couples were able to set emotion aside, look at the evidence and possible likely outcomes, and resolve their differences, at least as far as their Court action goes.

Setting emotions aside is key to a successful Family Court resolution.  Sadly that is easier said than done.  Divorces are devastating to the parties involved and their close family and friends.  It takes a great deal of emotional fortitude to set that pain aside and work toward a goal of amicable resolution.

Certain basic things are similar in most cases.  If there are temporary issues, a motion for temporary relief will be filed.  The temporary hearing will be held within 4 weeks and the parties will be limited to 8 pages of affidavits.  A financial declaration is required.  If there are contested custody issues, a Guardian ad Litem will likely be appointed.  The parties will have to pay the Guardian ad Litem’s fees.  If the case remains contested, a mediation will be convened.  If the case settles at mediation, a hearing is set quickly.  If the case remains contested even after mediation, the hearing will take a significant period of time to be scheduled.  The trial may last one or more days, depending on the issues.  At the end of the evidence, the Court will issue a written ruling, which ends the case.

I tell my clients that in most cases, there is no one right way to accomplish their goal.  They will end up divorced whether we negotiate settlement or whether we litigate.  The difference will be how long it takes and how much it costs, both monetarily and emotionally.  And as for the day-to-day management of the case, there are usually multiple ways to accomplish a goal.  The key is having competent counsel who knows the rules and having some personal flexibility in how things are accomplished.  It is important to remember that the litigation will not make the litigant “feel better” about the break up.

M. J. Goodwin has practiced Family Law in Upstate South Carolina for 22 years.  Goodwin Attorney at Law, LLC, is located at 113 North Main Street, Anderson, South Carolina.



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