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Domestic Relations

Sep 11, 2023

Domestic Relations – Civil Practice – Contempt – Undisclosed Debt

The family court’s “Final Order” said, “The parties shall strictly comply with the terms of the [final settlement a]greement or risk the contempt powers of the court.” Accordingly, the plaintiff-Wife’s rule to show cause gave the family court leave to enforce the unambiguous payment and indemnification terms of the Final Order by ordering the defendant-Husband […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Alimony – Retirement – Deferred Income – Attorneys’ Fees

The plaintiff-Husband retired and sought a reduction in his alimony obligation. In his post-retirement financial statements to the family court, Husband categorized distributions from his former employer as assets. However, evidence discovered by the defendant-Wife’s attorneys showed that Husband had been spending most of the money from the distributions as income and that his income […]

Jul 25, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody Modification – Manipulative Behavior

The appellant-Father showed the parties’ minor sons emails between the parents in which, for example, Father accused the respondent-Mother of being unfaithful, manipulative, and an “unrepentant liar and deceiver” and of engaging in “sinful, wicked choices” and “emotional psychological abuse of the boys[.]” Further, despite the fact that Mother chose to maintain her married name [&hel[...]

May 23, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody – Psychological Evaluation – Mediated Settlement Agreement

The defendant-Mother challenges the family court’s approval of a mediated child custody settlement agreement awarding primary custody to the plaintiff-Father. The family court erred in refusing to accept or even consider a proffer of a psychologist’s evaluation of the parties’ Child, even though Mother obtained the evaluation without Father’s consent, was dilatory in providing the [&hellip[...]

Apr 28, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Joint Custody – Abuse Accusation – Alienation

The appellant-Mother believed the respondent-Father had abused their daughter (Child) based on a statement made by Child; however, several investigations indicated that no abuse had occurred. Where Child is attached to both parents, Mother reacts adversely to recommendations she finds unfavorable, and Mother has a potential for unhealthy enmeshment with Child, we find exceptional circumstances [&h[...]

Apr 24, 2023

Domestic Relations – Common Law Marriage – Appeals – Interlocutory Order

Although plaintiff was entitled to immediately appeal an intermediate order finding a common-law marriage between the parties pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 14-3-330(1), she was not required to immediately appeal the order or to specifically list the order in her notice of appeal. We reverse the family court order finding a common-law marriage. We […]

Apr 18, 2023

Domestic Relations – Domestic Abuse Protection – ‘Household Member’ – Abuser’s Stepchild

Although the definition of “household member” in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act1 (the Act) does not include a minor stepchild, other parts of the Act indicate that a minor stepchild is entitled to the Act’s protection. We reverse the family court’s order insofar as it declines to extend protection to the petitioner-Mother’s minor child, […]

Feb 22, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody Modification – No Change of Circumstances – GAL’s Testimony

Even though the guardian ad litem testified that the children were more comfortable with the defendant-Father and more stressed at the home of the plaintiff-Mother and their stepfather, since the children were thriving physically, mentally, socially, and academically while under Mother’s predominant care, and since Mother’s frequent moves – to larger houses or to be […]

Jan 18, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Abuse Registry – Coaching Defense – Child’s Hearsay

A counselor testified that it was “more likely than not” that a six-year-old would be traumatized by testifying and that the child was substantially likely to experience certain distress symptoms. This testimony was not sufficient to support the family court’s finding that there was a substantial likelihood that the child would suffer severe emotional trauma […]

Dec 2, 2022

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Custody – Appeals – Changed Circumstances 

The matter of physical and legal custody of the parties’ minor child has been in contention for almost six years—since the child was two months old. We regret the delay caused in part by our state’s court system and acknowledge considerable changes and milestones could occur for a minor child during such a substantial delay […]

Dec 2, 2022

Domestic Relations – Alimony – Civil Practice – Consent Order – Res Judicata 

When the parties entered into an October 2018 consent order to retroactively terminate the plaintiff-Father’s alimony obligation as of July 2018, there was another action pending requiring Father to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for disobeying the parties’ divorce decree by failing to increase his alimony payments to the defendant-Mother […]

Dec 2, 2022

Domestic Relations – Prenuptial Agreement – Life Insurance – Separate Property – Beneficiary Change 

Before they married, decedent and the appellee-husband signed an antenuptial agreement which designated as decedent’s separate property a life insurance policy that named appellants – decedent’s children from a previous marriage – as beneficiaries. When decedent subsequently designated her new husband, instead of her children, as beneficiary of the policy, she did not transfer ownership [&[...]

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