Appealing Attorney Fees in South Carolina Family Law

SC allows a court to award attorney fees to one party at the conclusion of a case. There are some factors a court considers, but the court has discretion. However, the losing party may want to appeal attorney fees if they do not agree with the award. Buist v. Buist tells us when appealing attorney fees is proper.

What Happened in the Case

Husband and Wife married and had one kid. Wife filed for divorce eight years later. The divorce was a no-fault divorce. After the final hearing, Wife’s attorney requested $15,000 in attorney fees. Husband did not object to this request. But, he did submit his own fee request for an earlier rule to show cause motion. In the final decree, the court ordered Husband to pay $8,000 towards Wife’s attorney fees and costs. Wife also had to pay for Husband’s fees of $3,050. Husband appealed the award of attorney fees for Wife. The court denied his motion.

Husband then appealed to the court of appeals. The court of appeals affirmed the family court on the grounds Husband did not preserve his appeal. Husband did not challenge Wife’s request for fees. Thus, the family court never ruled on the issue. Therefore, he could not appeal the issue. Husband then appealed the SC Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals. However, the Court disagreed with the test that the court of appeals used. The Court found that Husband’s motion to reconsider was a timely challenge. He did not need to challenge the request when Wife made it. Thus, Husband could appeal the issue. But, the Court found that Husband did not appeal the right issue. He appealed the time frame given to pay the fees and not the amount of the award. Thus, Husband was not specific enough, and he did not preserve the right issue on appeal.

Appealing Attorney Fees

If you do not like a court’s ruling, appealing attorney fees may be the right choice. Even if you lose the first time, you can then appeal that issue after the hearing.

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Establishing New Holiday Traditions

Establishing new holiday traditions after divorce can be tricky. You have to find ways to honor old traditions, create exciting and new ones, and be flexible in when and how you do them. The holidays are tough, especially for children of divorce. It always seems that someone gets the short end of the stick— whether be one of the parents, or the child. So, what can you do to prevent this? The truth is, there’s no easy answer. Discovering what works for you and your newly divided family is no easy task. So, we’ve devised a quick list of some things to do, and things to avoid, as you prepare these new blended family traditions.

Establishing New Holiday Traditions: Making the Most of Changing Times

A blended family is defined as a family comprised of both sides of the previous marriage. Take Dad, for example, and his new girlfriend or wife and her children. Then mom, has her husband and their children. So, in short, a blended family is a mix of all avenues of the divorced family. Creating new traditions can be a way of helping the family reintegrate and helping the child remain adjusted.

Tip 1: Keep it simple

Remember that traditions don’t have to be big and grand. They can be something as simple as the same tablecloth every birthday, or the same tree topper at both houses. Traditions are what you make them, and usually the smaller the tradition— the more meaningful. It’s the remembrances that make the difference. Especially as you and your children adjust to the changes that come along with divorced, and blended, families.

Tip 2: Honor traditions old and new

Having rituals and traditions that you can honor, while also creating ones unique to your changing family helps harbor that excitement your children most likely associate with the holidays. Finding ways to blend those former happy times into a promise of new ones is a great way to provide a united front while also establishing things unique to each household that you can both enjoy. Use the holidays as an opportunity to feel out co-parenting is fantastic. This is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, especially for children. So, making the most of that in any way you can— is always a good idea.

Tip 3: Be flexible

Remember that the holiday season and cheer should not be allocated to one, single day. Dad has Christmas this year? Extend the season!!! Who says you have to do Christmas when other people do? Maybe you have to celebrate on the 28th this year— the key is being unselfish, understanding, and going with the flow of things. Times are changing, use this as your chance for establishing new holiday traditions just for yourself!

Suing DSS for Taking Your Kids

DSS has a lot of power in the state of South Carolina. DSS can take your kids, terminate your rights, and put your kid up for adoption. So, what can you do if DSS abuses their power or acts with gross negligence? You can sue. Bass v. SC DSS is a case that shows this exact situation.

What Happened Here

Diane and Otis Bass had three kids. All three had special needs, but two were also autistic: Hanna and Alex. Hanna and Alex had special medicine to help them sleep at night. In April 2008, the medicine was accidently mixed at 1000 times the recommended concentration. Diane and Otis did not know. So, after giving Hanna and Alex the medicine, both children became very sick and ended up in the hospital. The hospital placed Alex on life support. The day the children went to the hospital, DSS received a report that two special needs children were in the hospital due to possible poisoning by parents. DSS assigned the case a “medium” danger rating, which mandated a filed report and initiated investigation within 24 hours. Parrish was the caseworker.

Parrish spoke to the hospital staff, took the medicine, and asked Diane and Otis to meet her the next morning. During this meeting, Parrish chose to remove the children from Diane and Otis. About a month later, Parrish learned that the medicine was the cause of the children’s illness and not the parents. Thus, Diane and Otis got their kids back. Diane and Otis sued for gross negligence and outrage. A jury agreed with Diane and Otis. The appellate court reversed. Diane and Otis then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Court found that there was evidence that DSS did not conduct a proper investigation of the Bass kids and family. Thus, the jury verdict could not be overturned by a court of appeals.

Proving Gross Negligence

If DSS takes your kids when they should not, speak with a lawyer. DSS makes mistakes. You should not let them get away with their mistakes. Contact us today to talk about your family law needs.

Best Interest of the Child in South Carolina

The prevailing standard in SC family courts is the best interest of the child. What this means is that a court will usually make the decision that is in the child’s best interest. Thus, it is imperative that lawyers argue towards this standard. When the termination of parental rights (TPR) is at issue, this standard is the crux of the case. SC DSS v. Cameron N.F.L., Billy J.S., and “John Doe” is a TPR case that focuses on this standard.

What Happened in the Case

DSS filed an intervention action against Mother because of the condition of her home and alleged drug abuse. DSS then removed the child from Mother. The family court then held a TPR hearing. Mother renovated her home and kept it clean. DSS found it suitable for an infant Mother recently gave birth to. DSS also found no evidence of drug abuse. While in foster care, the child lived in at least five homes and suffered developmental regression. The child’s therapist stated that the child had a strong bond with his mother. The child’s first guardian ad litem found that the child was not yet ready for adoption. However, the second GAL found that TPR was in the best interest of the child, despite never seeing the child and Mother interact. The family court ordered TPR. It found it to be in the child’s best interest.

On appeal, the court of appeals reversed the family court. It found that TPR was not in the child’s best interest. The court found that a valuable bond existed between the child and Mother. Further, the court found that the child was not a viable candidate for adoption. Also, the court found it significant that DSS had not identified a pre-adoptive home for the child. Thus, those three factors indicated that TPR was not in the child’s best interest.

TPR and the Child’s Best Interest

If facing a TPR hearing, make sure you have evidence of the child’s interest. A lawyer will know what evidence to gather and how best to present it! So contact us today.

Alimony Award in SC Divorce | Fort Mill Family Attorneys

When one party receives an alimony award, the other party can appeal. Usually, the appeal is because one party feels that the other side doesn’t need any extra money to live. So how does a court handle such a dispute? Sweeney v. Sweeney is a SC case where a court reviews an award of alimony to the wife.

alimony awardAlimony Award and Appeals

Since getting married in 1984, husband worked for a construction firm, and wife was a teacher. Consequently, the couple did well and collect a lot of marital assets. In addition, the two had three children. As a result, the wife did not return to work after their third child was born in 1995. Subsequently, after twenty-eight years of marriage, husband asked for a no-fault divorce. However, wife countered for a divorce based on adultery. Over two years later, the court granted divorce based on husband’s adultery. Furthermore, the judge ordered an alimony award of five thousand dollars per month in periodic permanent alimony. Therefore, husband appealed. Although husband argued the family court miscalculated wife’s income and monthly expenses, the court of appeals affirmed. Rather, it found the family court properly considered the factors. In addition, the court found sufficient evidence to support the alimony award.

Appealing an Alimony Award

If you feel that your ex-partner should not receive alimony, you can appeal. But make sure you have a good lawyer to guide you through the appeal process. Rather than try this on your own, hire an experienced Fort Mill family lawyer to fight for you in court. Otherwise, the court process can be intimidating and daunting. So let us take your worry and anxiety away and do our job. After all, this is what we do. While we can’t guarantee any particular result, we can promise our best efforts and hard work on your behalf. Call now for answers and sleep better tonight.