Timing of Family Court Litigation

Timing of Family Court Litigation

By M. J. Goodwin


The issue of timing is often critical in Family Court litigation.  Timing can come up in a variety of ways.  Sometimes it’s beneficial to delay the filing of the action and sometimes it’s better to act quickly.  The decision is generally specific to the facts and situation.

Typically, it is not ideal to raise issues of parental unfitness as a defendant in an action.   In doing so, one may face the issue of the Family Court judge asking “why did you wait until the other side filed to raise this issue?”  So on issues of parental fitness, it is typically important to act quickly and with sufficient evidence to prevail.   If the question is more of a best interest standard, the timing issue may not be as critical.  If essentially simultaneous actions are filed, the timing issue becomes moot and in that situation, I would prefer to be the defendant.

As another example:  if a person will test positive for drugs of any kind, it is not a good time to file a Family Court action, especially one involving child custody or visitation.  If a person is committing adultery and is financially dependent on a spouse, it is likely beneficial to delay the filing of an action, at least until such time as the adulterous spouse is self-supporting.  It may not be possible to avoid the defense in these matters when the issues are raised by the other side.

The timing of filing a Family Court action is one of the finer points of Family Law.  On really needs an experienced Family Court lawyer to address issues like timing.  An analysis of timing requires long term insight and a depth of experience in dealing with the Family Court.

M. J. Goodwin has been practicing Family Law in Anderson, SC and surrounding counties since 1991. Email inquiries are typically answered with 12 hours: mj@mjgoodwin.com





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