379 S.E.2d 125 (S.C. 1989), 23005, Henderson v. Henderson

Docket Nº:23005.
Citation:379 S.E.2d 125, 298 S.C. 190
Opinion Judge:FINNEY, Justice:
Party Name:Susan G. HENDERSON, Respondent-Appellant, v. J. Christopher HENDERSON, Appellant-Respondent.
Attorney:Ken Suggs and Mike Kelly, of Suggs & Kelly, Lawyers, P.A., Columbia, for appellant-respondent. C. Dixon Lee, III, of McLaren & Lee, and Harvey L. Golden, of Law Offices of Harvey L. Golden, P.A., Columbia, for respondent-appellant.
Case Date:April 24, 1989
Court:Supreme Court of South Carolina
 
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Page 125

379 S.E.2d 125 (S.C. 1989)

298 S.C. 190

Susan G. HENDERSON, Respondent-Appellant,

v.

J. Christopher HENDERSON, Appellant-Respondent.

No. 23005.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

April 24, 1989

Page 126

Heard Dec. 9, 1988.

Page 127

[298 S.C. 192] Ken Suggs and Mike Kelly, of Suggs & Kelly, Lawyers, P.A., Columbia, for appellant-respondent.

C. Dixon Lee, III, of McLaren & Lee, and Harvey L. Golden, of Law Offices of Harvey L. Golden, P.A., Columbia, for respondent-appellant.

FINNEY, Justice:

This is an appeal from a family court order. Both parties appeal the court's construction of their separation agreement (agreement). In addition, appellant-respondent, J. Christopher Henderson, appeals on issues of alimony, child support, and attorney fees; and respondent-appellant, Susan G. Henderson, appeals the court's refusal to hold Mr. Henderson in contempt. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand.

The parties were married on December 30, 1972. During the marriage they had one child. Subsequently, they separated and entered into a separation agreement on issues of custody, visitation, child support, alimony and property division. Ms. Henderson obtained custody of their three-year old child. The agreement was approved by the family court and merged into a Final Decree of Divorce on October 23, 1980. At this time, Ms. Henderson was employed as a school teacher and Mr. Henderson as an attorney.

Ms. Henderson instituted this action on August 28, 1986. She sought an order holding Mr. Henderson in contempt, enforcement of a provision of the agreement which requires Mr. Henderson to annually furnish her with a copy of his federal income tax return, an increase in child support, enforcement of alimony provisions, recovery of alimony arrearages, attorney fees and costs. Mr. Henderson filed responsive pleadings in which he sought, among other things, recovery or offset of alleged alimony overpayments, a reduction in alimony, elimination of the requirement that he furnish Ms. Henderson copies of his federal income tax returns, attorney fees and costs.

[298 S.C. 193] The family court ordered Mr. Henderson to pay $15,316.45 alimony arrearages, make monthly alimony payments of $1,634.87, provide $350.00 per month child support, furnish Ms. Henderson copies of his federal income tax returns for 1986 and each year thereafter, and pay $16,200.00 in costs and attorney fees to Ms. Henderson's attorneys.

  1. Interpretation/Construction of the Separation Agreement

    Mr. Henderson challenges the family court's determination that his "net earnings," at the time of the agreement, were $1,455.15 per month and contends that the court erred by refusing to allow him to present evidence that his "net earnings" were other than as set forth in the agreement. Questions relating to the construction, operation and effect of separation agreements are governed by the same general rules and provisions applicable to other contracts. Annot., 79 A.L.R.2d 612 (1961).

    ...

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