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2004-UP-381 - Crawford v. Crawford

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

Sylvia Crawford,        Respondent,

v.

Lawrence Crawford,        Appellant.


Appeal From Kershaw County
Rolly W. Jacobs, Family Court Judge 


Unpublished Opinion No.  2004-UP-381
Submitted April 21, 2004 – Filed June 18, 2004


AFFIRMED


Lawrence Crawford,  pro se.

William S. Tetterton, of Camden, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  In this divorce action, the appealed order (1) granted Sylvia Crawford, the wife, a divorce from Lawrence Crawford, the husband, on the ground of a one-year separation, (2) granted both parties sole and exclusive possession of the property in their respective possessions, and (3) restored the wife’s maiden name.  The husband appeals.  We affirm. [1]

1.  We find no merit to the husband’s argument that the family court judge who heard the matter should have recused himself because that same judge also presided in a matter involving the Department of Social Services against the husband.  See Roper v. Dynamique Concepts, Inc., 316 S.C. 131, 139, 147 S.E.2d 218, 223 (Ct. App. 1994) (“A judge is not required to recuse himself merely because he presided over other proceedings on the same or related cases.”); Payne v. Holiday Towers, Inc., 283 S.C. 210, 217, 321 S.E.2d 179, 183 (Ct. App.1984) (“When no evidence is presented other than prior appearances by a party which resulted in ‘adverse’ rulings by the judge, the judge is not required to recuse himself.”).  Here, although the husband appears to allege on appeal that the other proceeding resulted in “continual bias actions” against him, he offered no evidence, by affidavit or otherwise, to show the presiding family court judge could not be impartial in this case.

2.  The family court ordered that the marital property in the possession of each party be the sole and exclusive property of that party, free from any claims of the other.   The husband alleges error in the family court’s decision to confirm the wife’s right to the marital property in her possession.  We find no error. 

The wife testified that she took clothes belonging to herself and the children, the parties’ living room set, the washer and dryer, and the refrigerator.  The husband alleges on appeal that the wife had taken into possession other items that she did not mention at trial, including jewelry, electronic equipment, credit cards, and social security benefits.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the family court agreed to take the issue of equitable distribution under advisement pending the husband’s provision of written information of “valuation of all of the items in the mobile home in addition to the items that [the wife] has” (emphasis added).  The family court requested the husband to “mark which items [the wife] has and which items . . . are still left in there.”  Although the husband provided a statement alleging the wife owed him $24,700 in social security benefits and had taken other items of value, the record on appeal does not contain, as the family court requested, a valuation of the items to which the husband retained possession.  Moreover, the husband does not appear to dispute the findings in the appealed order that he had retained possession of the marital real estate, the remaining household furnishings, and two automobiles.  As the wife notes in her brief, the evidence could support a finding that the value of the items that she took represented a very small portion of the total assets of the marriage.  Under these circumstances, we find no abuse of discretion in the family court’s decision to award the wife the marital property that she agreed was in her possession.  See Bowers v. Bowers, 349 S.C. 85, 97, 561 S.E.2d 610, 616(Ct. App. 2002) (citing the principle that, absent an abuse of discretion, the family court’s apportionment of marital property will not be disturbed on appeal).

3.  The husband appears to raise several additional matters on appeal; however, in his brief, he failed to present a concise and direct statement for these issues, preferring to include discussion on them within the arguments for which statements were provided.  As an appellate court, we are not at liberty to consider these other matters because they have not been preserved for appeal.  See Langehans v. Smith, 347 S.C. 348, 352, 554 S.E.2d 681, 683 (Ct. App. 2001) (“An appellate brief must be divided into as many parts as there are issues to be argued, and an issue is not preserved for appeal if appellant’s brief does not conform to these requirements. . . . [I]t is error for the appellate court to consider issues not properly raised to it.”).

AFFIRMED.

GOOLSBY, HOWARD, and BEATTY, JJ., concur.


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