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Brown v. Brown

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

June 4, 2014

Desiree Gabriel Brown, Respondent,
v.
Wendell Brown, Appellant

Heard October 7, 2013

Appeal From York County. Appellate Case No. 2011-187106. Brian M. Gibbons, Family Court Judge.

Thomas F. McDow, IV, and Erin K. Urquhart, both of the Law Office of Thomas F. McDow, of Rock Hill, for Appellant.

David Christopher Shea, of the Law Offices of Shea and Barron, of Columbia, for Respondent.

WILLIAMS, J. THOMAS and CURETON, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 923

[408 S.C. 583] WILLIAMS, J.

In this appeal from the family court, Wendell Brown (Father) argues the family court erred in awarding attorney's fees to Desiree Brown (Mother) following the family court's decision to apply Worksheet C in calculating Father's child support obligation. We reverse.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 6, 2009, Mother and Father were divorced by final decree (Final Decree). The Final Decree provided that [408 S.C. 584] Mother and Father would share joint custody of their three children. Father was awarded primary custody of eighteen-year-old Malcolm, while Mother was awarded primary custody of the two minor children.

The Final Decree ordered Mother and Father to share expenses equally for the children until Malcolm's emancipation in May 2009. The Final Decree also provided that " [c]hild support may be addressed after June 1, 2009, in a new action, without prejudice[, or the] parties may submit a consent order in this action to address future support for the [minor children]." The parties never entered into a consent order, and as a result, Mother filed an action for child support modification and attorney's fees on July 14, 2009.

On November 5, 2009, the family court issued a pendente lite order addressing child support. In the pendente lite order, the family court applied Worksheet A to calculate Father's child support obligation and required Father to pay $1,121 per month in child support retroactive to the filing of the child support modification action. Because of the retroactive application, the family court found Father to be in arrears totaling $3,923.50 and ordered Father to pay an additional $224.20 per month in child support until his arrearage was paid. The family court also ordered Father to pay Mother $1,500 in attorney's fees.

On November 30, 2009, Father filed a motion to reconsider the pendente lite order. The family court held a hearing to address Father's motion. After the hearing, the family court issued an order denying Father's motion on April 19, 2010 (April 2010 Order). Because Father did not pay child support following the pendente lite order, the family court found Father's total arrearage had increased to $10,649.50. The family court ordered Father to pay his arrearage on the same terms set forth in the pendente lite order. Mother requested additional attorney's fees at the hearing, but Mother failed to provide the family court with an attorney's fees affidavit. The family court held Mother's attorney's fees in abeyance.

Father failed to pay child support as required by the pendente lite and the April 2010 orders and the $1,500 in attorney's fees also required by the pendente lite order. As a result, on May 27, 2010, Mother filed a rule to show cause [408 S.C. 585] claiming Father had not paid child support or attorney's fees in compliance with the orders. As a part of its pretrial order, the family court consolidated Mother's rule to show ...


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