Although the family court accepted the respondent-Mother’s testimony that she had paid the appellant-Father child support in cash, the record shows that Mother’s testimony was not credible.
We reverse the family court’s finding that Mother made cash payments to Father for child support and remand for the family court’s determination as to whether Mother’s nonpayment was voluntary and whether Father is entitled to additional attorney’s fees.
The family court accepted Mother’s testimony that she had paid Father in cash at various times and places noted on a written list that Mother produced. However, after Mother supposedly started making such payments, an email from Father’s attorney indicated Mother had made no payments.
Mother responded, “I would like to make a payment arrangement with you for the fees owed. Please let me know how we can start this arrangement. Pertaining to child support, I have attempted to pay [Father] but he has made it difficult.” Mother stated that the reason for the failure of her attempt to pay Father was her inability to find him.
Both the letter from Father’s attorney and Mother’s response are dated after the alleged inception of Mother’s cash payments to Father. If these payments had been occurring as alleged in Mother’s transaction list, it is likely that Mother would not have stated she “attempted to pay” Father but would have stated that she had paid Father. Further, Mother’s transaction list indicated that she met Father several times at various locations to pay him child support prior to the e-mail she sent to Father’s attorney, but in the e-mail, Mother did not indicate that she had seen or paid Father; rather, she indicated that she had been unable to find Father in order to pay him.
These discrepancies cast doubt upon the legitimacy of Mother’s list of alleged cash transactions. In the absence of any supporting evidence of these alleged cash transactions beyond Mother’s own self-serving testimony, and pursuant to our authority to find facts in accordance with our own view of the evidence, we find Mother did not meet her burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that she made cash payments for child support to Father.
While this court normally defers to the family court’s assessment of witness credibility, the e-mail evidence puts Mother’s credibility on the witness stand in doubt.
Moreover, at the time of the hearing, the family court had already taken judicial notice of a January 16, 2018, order in which there are many adverse findings against Mother that call into question her candor and honesty to the court. Specifically, Mother’s self-serving testimony, coupled with the unfounded and grave child abuse accusations against Father, call into question her credibility. Therefore, relying on Mother’s testimony alone, without any corroborating evidence is not sufficient for a finding that payments were made.
As a result, we reverse the family court’s finding that Mother made cash payments for child support. Remanded.
Register v. Dixon (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-056-22, 8 pp.) (John Geathers, J.) Appealed from Richland County Family Court (Michelle Hurley, J.) Carrie Ann Warner for appellant; Angel Register Dixon and Lee Dixon, pro se. S.C. App.