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Buist v. Buist

Supreme Court of South Carolina

December 3, 2014

Katie Green Buist, Respondent,
v.
Michael Scott Buist, Petitioner

Heard June 12, 2014.

Appeal From Abbeville County. Billy A. Tunstall, Jr., Family Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2012-213002.

Scarlet Bell Moore, of Greenville, for Petitioner.

C. Rauch Wise, of Greenwood, for Respondent.

CHIEF JUSTICE TOAL. BEATTY, KITTREDGE, JJ., and Acting Justice Dorothy M. Jones concur. PLEICONES, J., concurring in result in a separate opinion.

OPINION

Page 382

[410 S.C. 572] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

TOAL CHIEF JUSTICE:

We granted Scott Buist's (Husband) petition to review the court of appeals' decision affirming the family court's award of $8,000 in attorneys' fees to Katie Buist (Wife). See Buist v. Buist, 399 S.C. 110, 124-25, 730 S.E.2d 879, 886 (Ct. App. 2012). While we agree with the court of appeals that Husband failed to preserve his specific objection to the award of attorneys' fees, the court of appeals erred in declaring a bright-line rule that an objection to an award of attorneys' fees is always untimely when made as part of a motion pursuant to Rule 59(e), SCRCP. Accordingly, we affirm as modified.

Facts/Procedural Background

Husband and Wife married in 1999 and had one child. In 2007, Wife filed for divorce, seeking, inter alia, attorneys' fees and costs. In 2009, the family court granted the couple a divorce on the grounds that they had lived separate and apart for one year.

On November 5, 2009, the family court conducted a final hearing, receiving testimony from Husband, Wife, their witnesses, and a guardian ad litem (GAL) regarding contested issues of division of marital assets, child custody and visitation, [410 S.C. 573] and child support.[1] At the hearing, Wife's attorney submitted

Page 383

a fee affidavit requesting approximately $15,000 in attorneys' fees. Husband's attorney did not object to the affidavit, but submitted his own fee affidavit regarding his earlier motion for a rule to show cause.

In the final divorce decree, dated December 16, 2009, the family court ordered Husband to pay $8,000 towards Wife's attorneys' fees and costs within 180 days. The court also ordered Husband and Wife to each pay half of the $2,768.90 owed to the GAL within 180 days. Finally, the family court ordered Wife to pay ...


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