February 1, 2016
From Richland County Michelle M. Hurley, Family Court Judge
O. McDougall, of McDougall, Self, Currence & McLeod, LLP, of
Columbia, and Katherine Carruth Goode, of Winnsboro, for
Mark Taylor of Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A., of West Columbia,
Noojin, Ph.D. (Mother) appeals the family court's order
finding her in contempt and requiring her to pay Frank
Noojin's, M.D. (Father) attorney's fees and costs.
She argues the family court erred in (1) finding she
willfully violated a court order; (2) excluding an exhibit;
(3) limiting cross-examination of an expert witness; and (4)
ordering her to pay Father's attorney's fees and
costs and failing to award her attorney's fees and costs.
and Mother married in 1993 and divorced on April 8, 2011.
Father is a surgeon, and Mother is a licensed clinical
psychologist. Two children (Son and Daughter, collectively
Children) were born of the marriage.
to the final divorce hearing, the couple reached a child
custody agreement wherein they shared joint custody, with
Mother as the primary custodial parent and Father having
frequent "nights of contact and visitation with the
children." The agreement outlined a "phase-in"
visitation schedule from December 18, 2010, until February
19, 2011, with the regular schedule to begin on March 1,
2011. The regular schedule allotted visitation every other
weekend and one evening dinner on the alternate weeks. The
agreement provided Children could extend (1) the weekends to
include Thursday or Sunday night when Friday or Monday was a
holiday and (2) the weeknight dinner to an overnight visit.
The agreement outlined specific visitation schedules for
holidays, birthdays, summer vacations, and spring break.
Additionally, the agreement provided:
The visitation provided to Father in this Agreement shall
take into consideration each child's wishes and desires
in this regard, however, the children's wishes shall
not be controlling unless otherwise specifically provided in
this Agreement. . . . The parties agree to engage in
family counseling with a therapist mutually agreeable to the
parties. They shall attend family counseling once or twice
per month and Father will use his weekday time with the
children for this counseling, if necessary.
(emphasis added). In addition to the visitation schedule, the
Each party shall exert every reasonable effort to
maintain free access and unhampered contact
between the children and each of the parties and to
foster a feeling of affections between the
children and the other party. Neither party
shall do anything which may estrange the
children from the other party or injure the
children's opinion as to his/her mother or father or
which may hamper the free and natural development of
the children's love and respect for the other
(emphases added). The parties also agreed to (1) refrain from
making disparaging remarks about the other parent in the
presence of Children and discourage third parties from doing
so; (2) consult each other regarding Children's
education, illness, health, welfare, and "other matters
of similar importance affecting" Children; and (3)
refrain from having physical or verbal confrontations or
allowing another to do so in the presence of Children. On
December 15, 2010, the family court approved the agreement
and incorporated it into the final decree of divorce (the
February 2013, Father filed a complaint for contempt and the
parties proceeded to a three-day contempt
hearing. At the hearing, Father testified that
after the standard visitation began on March 1, 2011, he did
not receive regular visits. He outlined the limited
visitation he received from 2011 to 2013. Specifically, in
2011,  according to Father, he received one of
the twenty dinners; one full weekend and four partial
weekends of the twenty weekends; none of the five days
allotted for spring break; one of the two days allotted for
Father's Day; none of the five days allotted for
Thanksgiving; and two of the ten days allotted for Christmas.
In 2012, Father received one of the twenty-three dinners; two
weekends of the twenty-five weekends; none of the three days
for spring break; five hours of the two days allotted for
Father's Day; and two days of the eight days allotted for
Christmas. The contempt hearing began on April 30, 2013, and
from January to April 2013, Father received one of the eight
dinners, none of the eight weekends, and none of the three
days allotted for spring break.
the hearing, the family court found Mother in contempt for
failure to comply with the divorce order and ordered her to
pay Father $41, 375.84 in attorney's fees and
costs. This appeal followed.
1. Did the family court err in finding Mother in contempt?
2. Did the family court err in excluding a letter Father
wrote to Children on December 13, 2010?
3. Did the family court err in limiting cross-examination of
4. Did the family court err in awarding attorney's fees