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2010-UP-402 - Westfall v. Westfall

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

David Westfall, Appellant,

v.

Stephanie Westfall, Respondent.


Appeal From Fairfield County
Brian M. Gibbons, Walter B. Brown, Jr., and
Donna S. Strom, Family Court Judges


Unpublished Opinion No.  2010-UP-402
Submitted September 1, 2010 – Filed September 14, 2010


AFFIRMED


David Westfall, of Hopkins, for Appellant. 

Michael E. Atwater, of Rock Hill, for Respondent.

Thomas M. Neal, III, of Columbia, Guardian Ad Litem. 

PER CURIAM:  David Westfall (Husband) appeals the family court's order dismissing his action for divorce against Stephanie Westfall (Wife), as well as several other prior orders.  We affirm[1] pursuant to Rule 220(b)(1), SCACR, and the following authorities:

1. With regard to the family court's denial of Husband's motion for default judgment:  S.C. Code Ann. § 20-3-10 (1985) (listing adultery and habitual drunkenness, which includes the habitual use of any narcotic drug, as grounds for divorce); Rule 17, SCRFC (deferring to the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure for the procedure for entry of a default judgment but allowing defendant to be "heard at the merits hearing on issues of custody of children, visitation, alimony, support, equitable distribution, and counsel fees"); Rule 55, SCRCP (establishing procedure for seeking a default judgment that requires procurement of a clerk's entry of default and a subsequent hearing by the court to enter the judgment and providing "[i]f, in order to enable the court to enter judgment or to carry it into effect, it is necessary . . . to establish the truth of any averment by evidence or to make an investigation of any other matter, the court may conduct such hearing or order such references as it deems necessary and proper . . ."); Watson v. Watson, 319 S.C. 92, 94, 460 S.E.2d 394, 395 (1995) (requiring plaintiff in a divorce action to prove his grounds for divorce as well as pleading them). 

2. With regard to the family court's dismissal of Husband's action for divorce:  Re:  Family Court Benchmark, S.C. Sup. Ct. order dated May 9, 2006 (mandating all domestic relations cases "shall be disposed of within 365 days of their filing" and assigning oversight of all family court cases older than 365 days and for which no final hearing has been requested to the Chief Administrative Judge for the county in which they were filed) (emphasis added).

We dismiss as moot the remainder of Husband's issues.  "A case becomes moot when judgment, if rendered, will have no practical legal effect upon existing controversy.  This is true when some event occurs making it impossible for [the] reviewing [c]ourt to grant effectual relief."  Mathis v. S.C. State Highway Dep't, 260 S.C. 344, 346, 195 S.E.2d 713, 715 (1973).  If there is no actual controversy, this court will not decide moot or academic questions.  Id. 

AFFIRMED. 

FEW, C.J., HUFF and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


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