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Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody & Support – Credibility – Attorney’s Fees

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//September 4, 2020

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody & Support – Credibility – Attorney’s Fees

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//September 4, 2020

We know of no authority requiring the family court to give a witness-by-witness account of its credibility assessments. The family court’s final order explains that the judge reviewed all of the exhibits, considered the testimony, and considered witness credibility. The order also summarizes and explains the rulings on each issue. Despite appellant-Father’s belief that respondent-Mother is generally dishonest, he has failed to show that the family court erred.

We affirm the family court’s order, which increased Father’s child support obligation, declined to increase Father’s time with the parties’ daughters, and required Father to pay just under half of Mother’s attorneys’ fees.

Even though the family court had previously ordered the parties to undergo psychological evaluations, and even though the evaluations were not completed before the final hearing, the family court who tried this case did not overrule the prior order when it issued its final order before the evaluations were performed. Instead, the family court, acting with the benefit of a full record, ordered the evaluations to proceed and specified the report would be delivered to the parties’ co-parenting counselor.

Father argues the family court did not give the proper weight to Daughter 1’s wishes. Although the family court’s final order did not mention either daughter’s preference, the family court discussed them in the extensive oral ruling it delivered at the trial’s conclusion. The family court noted Daughter 1 would prefer to live with her Father and Daughter 2 seemed to favor her mother. Despite these preferences, the family court did not believe changing custody would be in the girls’ best interest. We agree.

Father challenges the family court’s award of attorneys’ fees to Mother. However, Father’s financial situation is superior to Mother’s. He can afford to pay Mother the amount awarded.

Further, Mother was the prevailing party. Mother brought this case for the purpose of modifying child support and succeeded in that endeavor. Mother also prevailed on Father’s claim to adjust the parenting plan and child support in his favor.

The record amply supports the family court’s decision requiring Father to pay Mother $20,000 of the roughly $44,000 in fees she incurred.


Whitesell v. Whitesell (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-067-20, 12 pp.) (Blake Hewitt, J.) Appealed from the Family Court in York County (Karen Roper, J.) Thomas Franklin McDow, Erin Urquhart and Barrett Wesley Martin for appellant; Daniel Dominic D’Agostino and Jacqueline Davis for respondent. S.C. App.

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