What Really Happens at Family Court?

I have been in Family Court in South Carolina on a continuous basis for over 30 years.  People who end up at Family Court are usually completely stressed out.  They have endured a failed intimate relationship of some sort and are now in the terrible position of needing the government to make decisions for them pertaining to their children and their money and property.   Family Court is a place where a litigant’s entire world seems to be falling apart.  But it can also be a place where a litigant’s life begins to be rebuilt, with the help of an experienced and skilled attorney.

Going to Family Court without an experienced Family Court lawyer, who practices in the geographic area where the litigation is pending, is a grave mistake.  Many litigants operate under the misconception that the Judge will somehow “lookout” for them.   The only person “looking out” for a litigant in Family Court is their hired attorney.

A skilled lawyer will make sure that her client has all the necessary documents, completed in the most advantageous way possible, for the Court to consider at all hearings.  The first hearing is typically a temporary hearing.  This hearing is decided based solely on 8 pages of affidavits and lasts approximately 15 minutes.  What a terrifying proposition!  Fortunately, temporary hearings are exactly that, temporary.  Orders issued at this stage can be changed, if the situation warrants and if evidence can be developed to support a change.

Discovery and Mediation occur after a temporary hearing.  Again, the assistance of a skilled and experienced attorney are crucial.  Failure to answer discovery can subject a litigant to a motion to compel, which will result in an award of attorney fees if granted.  Mediation is a crucial opportunity to resolve the case without trial.

If mediation fails, the case will eventually be set for trial.  Having a litigator handle the trial is absolutely crucial.  One should expect to be held to the standard of an experienced attorney if one tries to go it alone and try a case without a lawyer.

The take away is Family Court is the place where the government will make important decisions that affect all areas of a litigant’s life, forever.  Decisions about your children, your money and your property should be taken very seriously.  Nobody should go to Court without a skilled and experienced Family Court lawyer.

If you need assistance with a Family Court matter in Anderson County, South Carolina, I can be reached by email at:  mj@mjgoodwin.com




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