Posts tagged #Family Law

"You Get What You Pay For" - Self-Representation in Family Law

Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in self-represented cases or “Pro Se” litigants appearing in Family Court. It appears that many people are concerned about the cost of paying an attorney to represent them in their divorce, custody, or family law case and they believe that going it alone is a great way to save money or they feel like they can handle their legal matter on the advice of “a friend” or something they read online… In college, I once decided during final exams that it was a great time to make decisions about changing my hair color… Due to my attempt to exercise frugality, I allowed my (completely unqualified/ nursing student) roommate to apply drug-store-purchased boxed brunette color to my blonde hair. She was smart and could read the instructions on the box. I am sure you are not surprised to learn that I soon found myself panicked to book an appointment with an experienced hair stylist to help me remove that fabulous green tint. I was desperate to have a professional correct my mistake (immediately), and I paid the price in multiple corrective treatments to get me to the condition I would have otherwise been in easily - had I paid for the professional services from the beginning. Legal decisions are obviously far more important than hair color, but the same general premise is true for any professional service. If you cut corners in an area where you are not professionally qualified, more likely than not, “You get what you pay for.”

While beginning your case unrepresented may save you the initial retainer, it can cost you big time in final results. Your marital assets, the custody and visitation that you maintain with your child(ren), initial awards of spousal or child support, and many other major legal decisions are not wise to gamble in such highly emotional times. Consider the following benefits of hiring a knowledgeable and competent family lawyer:

1. Knowledge and Understanding of the Law: A great family lawyer understands the law as it relates to almost every element of your case. There are filing deadlines, practice procedures, objections, court rules, and rules of evidence. You may not understand them, but they do.

2. Case Strategy: The best family lawyers will think strategically from the initial filing until the last detail in order to get you the best results. This often includes having a big picture approach for your future while managing the smaller details of your current situation. Waiting until the “fourth quarter” to develop your strategy can cost you the whole game; just as failing to realize that some future event is a big deal until after the Final Order is signed sometimes cannot be undone.

3. Ability to Keep Emotions Separated: An excellent family lawyer is empathetic to your emotions while keeping their objective and rational point of view as your advocate. Take comfort in knowing that the advice of your attorney is coming from a third party who does not have an emotional interest in the results of your case during a time when it is expected that you will experience a range of feelings.

4. Advice on Final Decisions: A great family lawyer has a real understanding of the advantages, disadvantages, and potential outcomes from taking your case to court as opposed to maintaining control and negotiating an agreement. You should definitely grasp and understand the information for yourself, but trust an experienced family lawyer to be honest with you about the legitimacy of your expectations.

5. Communication: The best family lawyer communicates with you through each step of the process and keeps you informed, answers your questions, and listens to your thoughts and ideas.

Invest in excellent representation from the beginning of your legal situation if you are faced with a family law issue. With the right counsel, the cost of representation will be money well spent.

Posted on February 20, 2019 .

Potty Equality

Ashton Kutcher’s recent facebook post is putting a spotlight on the issue of parenting equality between moms and dads. He posted: “There are NEVER diaper changing stations in mens public restrooms. The first public men's room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page! #‎BeTheChange

As moms and dads are now more equal in child care responsibilities and child custody arrangements in our society, trends in gender stereotyping are being called to catch up.

Read more at:

Does Fault in Divorce Effect Child Custody?

In South Carolina, the best interest of the child is the controlling factor in child custody determinations. Our family courts are routinely working with families in an effort to create child custody and visitation schedules that benefit both the parents and the child. Child custody should not be granted to reward or punish parents, but the fitness/unfitness of a parent or a parent’s ability to care for a child certainly play a role.

Typically, adultery does not have an impact on child custody determinations in South Carolina (other than in circumstances where the adultery directly effects the children).

Other fault-based grounds for divorce (i.e. Physical Cruelty, Habitual Drunkenness or Drug Abuse, and Desertion), however, can definitely impact a child custody determination. These fault-based factors often speak to characteristics of a parent that could be detrimental to a child’s welbeing. Sometimes, a parent exhibiting behaviors that would put a child at risk may be given an opportunity for rehabilitation in order to have a chance to regain custody or visitation rights. Courts can also place restraining orders on parental conduct to limit parent behavior and protect the best interest of the child. A parent who has previously been denied custody rights or has had their custody or visitation rights limited, may petition the court for a modification of child custody if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

If you have questions about divorce, child custody, or visitation call our office to set up a free consultation.

Best Interest of Your Child

At Christophillis and Gallivan, we strive to help families develop custom child custody arrangements that fit your specific needs. Whether you are seeking an original custody order or a modification of your current custody situation, our attorneys work within the bounds of sole custody or shared custody arrangements to reach your goals.


South Carolina law, §63-15-240(B), requires the court to consider the best interest of the child in issuing an order for custody. The best interest of the child includes consideration of factors such as:

(1) the temperament and developmental needs of the child;
(2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
(3) the preferences of each child;
(4) the wishes of the parents as to custody;
(5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
(6) the actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;
(7) the manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
(8) any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
(9) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
(10) the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
(11) the stability of the child's existing and proposed residences;
(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
(13) the child's cultural and spiritual background;
(14) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;
(15) whether one parent has perpetrated domestic violence or child abuse or the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or between the parent and the child;
(16) whether one parent has relocated more than one hundred miles from the child's primary residence in the past year, unless the parent relocated for safety reasons; and
(17) other factors as the court considers necessary.


If you have questions about child custody or visitation, contact us to set up your free consultation.

Posted on March 11, 2015 and filed under Child Custody.

The Cost of Divorce

One of the first questions we are asked in our initial consultations is "How much is a divorce going to cost me?" Our answer is and always will be the depends on the specific facts. Each family is different and thus each divorce is different. So much will depend on the grounds for filing for divorce, whether children are involved, and the complexity of dividing the marital assets and debts.

Recently, we read an article written by Susan Caminiti on CNBC's Today show blog that echoed the same messages we often tell our clients.


The more willing the parties are to compromise and fully disclose their information, the less expensive the divorce process can be.

The Today show article lists four major mistakes people make that can create more expensive legal fees, which include:

1) Fighting about minor parenting issues;

2) Not being flexible;

3) Treating your lawyers like a therapist; and

4) Not being financially prepared

At Christophillis & Gallivan, we work closely with our clients to ensure that each client's goals are fully heard and are kept as the focus of the case. Divorce is difficult and there is no easy road when it comes to your most personal issues. However, we expect the best from our clients and implore each and every client to stay focused on the big picture. We walk each client through the issues that commonly arise with divorce, child custody, child support, and division of assets. We firmly believe that the best resolutions are the ones that can be reached by compromise between the two parties

We want our clients to know that there is not a "one-size fits all" approach to the divorce process.  At the end of the day, our job is to help you through the divorce process and create a new "normal" that allows you to look towards the future with hope.