Coleen G. Mick-Skaggs, Appellant,
William B. Skaggs, Respondent Appellate Case No. 2011-195268
Heard: January 6, 2014.
This decision is not final until time expires to file
rehearing motion and, if filed, determind.
Appeal From Horry County. Wylie H. Caldwell, Jr., Family Court Judge.
Nicole Nicolette Mace, of The Mace Law Firm, of Myrtle Beach, for Appellant.
William B. Skaggs, Pro se, for Respondent.
WILLIAMS, J. SHORT and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.
On appeal, Coleen Mick-Skaggs (Wife) claims the family court erred in (1) denying Wife's request for a divorce on the grounds of William Skaggs' (Husband) adultery; (2) denying her request for alimony when Husband failed to prove she committed adultery; (3) improperly admitting certain photographs into evidence; and (4) improperly requiring Wife to pay her own attorney's fees. We affirm in part and affirm as modified in part.
Husband and Wife married on February 9, 1991. After approximately eighteen years of marriage, the parties separated in October 2009. Wife then filed for divorce in December 2009 on the grounds of Husband's adultery. Husband timely answered and counterclaimed, accusing Wife of adultery. At the time of the parties' divorce, Wife was forty-seven years old and Husband was forty-nine years old.
Prior to the final hearing, the family court issued a temporary order requiring Husband to maintain health insurance for Wife and to pay Wife $1,500 in alimony per month. By the date of the final hearing, the parties reached an agreement on the equitable division of marital property and the division of marital debt. The primary issues to be decided at the final hearing were adultery and alimony.
Regarding alimony, Wife claimed she requested alimony because she only received $982 per month for her Social Security disability, but her prescriptions were at least $1,000 per month. Wife stated she and Husband both worked their entire marriage until Wife was forced to retire from her position as a paralegal in September 2008 due to her deteriorating physical condition. Specifically, she testified she suffers from an inoperable spinal tumor, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, chronic pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, anxiety, peripheral nerve damage, and severe eye damage resulting from a stroke.
Husband questioned the extent of Wife's disability. He highlighted how she continued to be able to ride horses and compete in horse shows after quitting work and applying for disability benefits. Husband presented Wife with certain photographs of her at local horse shows. Wife responded almost all of the pictures were prior to receiving disability benefits, and she continued to be involved in riding and caring for horses because she was " trying to hold on to hope" when dealing with her deteriorating physical condition.
To support his adultery claim, Husband introduced certain text messages sent from Wife's phone. Husband read the following text, which Wife asserted was sent by one of her friends as a joke. It read:
I'm at Aynor Bar now. . . . I'm dancing with about half a dozen and French kissing them all down to the floor, and they don't kiss like small-mouth brim. They actually know how to kiss. LOL. Got a couple off-duty P.D. officers here, too. Gonna let me (sic) strip search my ass if they want to. . . . I love being single and free. Leaving for Texas for cutting horse congress, and I'm gonna have so much fun roping me a cowboy who knows what a real man is all about. 6-2, thirty-five years old. . . .
Husband also called William Russo, a co-worker and friend of Husband, to support his allegations of Wife's adultery. Russo stated that on the night of Wife's birthday, he arrived at the Cattle Company bar around midnight. Upon walking into the bar, he claimed he saw Wife with a couple and another male. Upon Husband's request, Russo stated he stayed outside the bar for approximately an hour and a half until the bar closed at 1:30 a.m. At that time, Russo observed Wife exit the bar with the same male. Russo stated, " At one point, she had her head in his lap ...