Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2004-UP-170 - Van Epps v. Stewart

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Susan F. Van Epps,        Appellant/Respondent,

v.

Leslie D. Stewart,        Respondent/Appellant.


Appeal From Darlington County
Roger E. Henderson, Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2004-UP-170
Submitted February 9, 2004 – Filed March 16, 2004


AFFIRMED


H. Fred Kuhn, Jr., of Beaufort, for Appellant-Respondent.

Cheryl Turner Hopkins, of Florence, for Respondent-Appellant.

PER CURIAM:  Leslie D. Stewart and Susan F. Van Epps cross appeal the family court’s order granting Van Epps a temporary reduction in child support payments, awarding Stewart partial attorney’s fees, and declining to sanction Van Epps for contempt.  We affirm [1] pursuant to Rule 220(b)(2), SCACR, and the following authorities:  As to all issuesAllen v. Allen, 347 S.C. 177, 181-182, 554 S.E.2d 421, 423 (Ct. App. 2001) (“In appeals from the family court, the appellate court has authority to find the facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the evidence.  However, this broad scope of review does not require us to disregard the findings of the family court.  Neither are we required to ignore the fact that the trial judge, who saw and heard the witnesses, was in a better position to evaluate their credibility and assign comparative weight to their testimony.”  (internal citations omitted)). 

As to Van Epps’ Issue: Calvert v. Calvert, 287 S.C. 130, 336 S.E.2d 884 (Ct. App. 1985) (holding a substantial or material change of circumstances must occur to warrant a modification of child support.); Miller v. Miller, 299 S.C. 307, 384 S.E.2d 715, 717 (1989) (holding a reduction in child support cannot be based on a decrease in the noncustodial parent’s income absent a strong showing by the latter that he or she can no longer make the support payments required by the earlier order); Engle v. Engle, 343 S.C. 444, 449, 539 S.E.2d 712, 714 (Ct. App. 2000) (“Where a parent voluntarily lessens his or her earning capacity, this Court will closely scrutinize the facts to determine the parent’s earning potential, rather than the parent’s actual income.”).

As to Stewart’s Issue ISmith v. Smith, 308 S.C. 492, 495, 419 S.E.2d 232, 234-235 (Ct. App. 1992) (holding that an award of attorney’s fees is within the sound discretion of the trial judge and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of that discretion); Glasscock v. Glasscock, 304 S.C. 158, 161, 403 S.E.2d 313, 315 (1991) (holding the trial court must consider six factors in determining the amount of an award of attorney’s fees:  “(1) the nature, extent, and difficulty of the case; (2) the time necessarily devoted to the case; (3) professional standing of counsel; (4) contingency of compensation; (5) beneficial results obtained; [and] (6) customary legal fees for similar services.”).

As to Stewart’s Issue IIAm. Fed. Bank v. Kateman, 335 S.C. 273, 277, 516 S.E.2d 1, 2 (Ct. App. 1999) (“Contempt results from the willful disobedience of a court order.”); Jackson v. Jackson, 241 S.C. 1, 126 S.E.2d 855 (1962) (holding a determination of contempt should be imposed sparingly and within the sound discretion of the trial judge); Taylor v. Taylor, 294 S.C. 296, 299, 363 S.E.2d 909, 911 (Ct. App. 1987) (“The determination of contempt is within the discretion of the trial judge and will not be disturbed in the absence of plain abuse of that discretion [and] [a]lthough a family court is empowered to find and punish for contempt, there is no requirement that sanctions be imposed upon such a finding.”). 

AFFIRMED.

HUFF and STILWELL, JJ., and CURETON, A.J., concur.


[1]        We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.