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2011-UP-096 - Tefft v. Tefft

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

Ashley Tefft, Respondent,

   v.

Clarke M. Tefft, Appellant.


Appeal From Beaufort County
Gerald C. Smoak, Jr., Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No.   2011-UP-096
Submitted March 1, 2011 – Filed March 10, 2011


AFFIRMED


O.W. Bannister, of Greenville, and Charles Russ Keep, III, of Hilton Head, for Appellant.

Robert N. Rosen, of Charleston and Alexandra DeJarnette Varner, of Mount Pleasant, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Clarke M. Tefft (Husband) appeals the family court's September 4, 2008 order requiring him to comply with a post-nuptial and reconciliation agreement, arguing the family court erred in: (1) finding an earlier family court order approving the reconciliation agreement was a final order; and (2) declaring its September 4, 2008 order to be a final order.  We affirm.[1]

1. We hold the family court did not err in finding the order approving the reconciliation agreement was a final order.  "If a judgment leaves some further act to be done by the court before the rights of the parties are determined, the judgment is not final."  S.C. Dep't of Transp. v. Faulkenberry, 337 S.C. 140, 146, 522 S.E.2d 822, 825 (Ct. App. 1999).  "An order is not final until it is entered by the clerk of court; and until the order or judgment is entered by the clerk of the court, the judge retains control of the case."  Upchurch v. Upchurch, 367 S.C. 16, 22, 624 S.E.2d 643, 646 (2006).  Here, the order was final because: (1) it resolved all the rights of Husband and Ashley Tefft (Wife) for purposes of both their separation and reconciliation; and (2) the clerk of court entered the order into the record.  Additionally, we note insofar as Husband is attempting to challenge the underlying validity of the reconciliation agreement, he is bound by the terms of the reconciliation agreement because he freely and voluntarily entered into the agreement.  See Moseley v. Mosier, 279 S.C. 348, 353, 306 S.E.2d 624, 627 (1983) ("The parties may specifically agree . . . to any terms they wish as long as the court deems the contract to have been entered fairly, voluntarily and reasonably. With the court's approval, the terms become a part of the decree and are binding on the parties and the court." (emphasis added)).  Lastly, we note Husband did not appeal the family court's order approving the reconciliation agreement.  See Ware v. Ware, 390 S.C. 493, 499, 702 S.E.2d 390, 393 (Ct. App. 2010) (finding an unappealed ruling, right or wrong, is the law of the case).         

2. We hold any error on behalf of the family court in declaring its September 4, 2008 order[2] to be a final order was harmless because Husband has not suffered any prejudice resulting from his inability to file pleadings in Wife's second action for divorce.  A review of the record indicates Husband is still able to litigate and file pleadings for the issues surrounding the divorce because Wife initiated a third action for divorce on March 6, 2009, for which Husband has already filed an answer and several counterclaims.  Accordingly, we affirm the family court's ruling.  See Davis v. Davis, 372 S.C. 64, 87, 641 S.E.2d 446, 458 (Ct. App. 2006) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) ("An error not shown to be prejudicial does not constitute grounds for reversal."). 

AFFIRMED.

WILLIAMS, GEATHERS, and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur.


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

[2]  The family court's September 4, 2008 order resolved the issues surrounding the reconciliation agreement and further stated: "[Wife] seeks a divorce in this case and is entitled to a hearing on the merits."