Epperly v. Epperly, No. 24019

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtCHANDLER; FINNEY, TOAL and MOORE, JJ., and WILLIAM T. HOWELL
Citation312 S.C. 411,440 S.E.2d 884
PartiesTina M. EPPERLY, Appellant, v. Mark Allan EPPERLY, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 24019
Decision Date15 March 1994

Page 884

440 S.E.2d 884
312 S.C. 411
Tina M. EPPERLY, Appellant,
v.
Mark Allan EPPERLY, Respondent.
No. 24019.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Submitted Jan. 19, 1994.
Decided Feb. 22, 1994.
Rehearing Denied March 15, 1994.

Page 885

[312 S.C. 413] Thomas J. Thompson of Townsend & Thompson, Laurens, for appellant.

James E. Bryan, Jr., Laurens, for respondent.

CHANDLER, Acting Chief Justice:

On appeal is an Order denying Appellant's (Wife's) action for divorce and related proceedings, and awarding Respondent (Husband) custody of their children. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

FACTS

Husband and Wife married in 1985. They have three children, ages four, five, and six.

In 1991, Wife commenced an action for divorce and related proceedings, alleging habitual drunkenness. After a temporary hearing, the Family Court awarded Wife custody of the children and granted Husband visitation privileges. Following a final hearing, Wife's action for divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness was denied and Husband was awarded custody of the children. Wife appeals.

ISSUES

1. Is Wife entitled to a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness?

2. Is Husband entitled to custody?

3. Is Wife entitled to alimony?

4. Is Wife entitled to attorney's fees?

5. Did the Family Court err in its division of the parties' real property?

[312 S.C. 414] DISCUSSION

A. Habitual Drunkenness

Wife contends the Family Court erred in refusing to grant her a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness. We disagree.

In an action on appeal from the Family Court, this Court has jurisdiction to find facts in accordance with its view of the preponderance of the evidence. McElveen v. McElveen, 277 S.C. 97, 283 S.E.2d 826 (1981). In order to prove habitual drunkenness, there must be a showing that the abuse of alcohol caused the breakdown of the marriage and that such abuse existed at or near the time of filing for divorce. Fisher v. Fisher, 276 S.C. 375, 278 S.E.2d 780 (1981).

Here, Wife and her witnesses testified that Husband drank heavily on a daily basis. However, Husband and his witnesses testified that he seldom drank and never to excess. Since the testimony on this issue is so divergent, we adopt the findings of the Family Court on this issue as the sitting

Page 886

judge was in the best position to determine the credibility of the witnesses. McAlister v. Patterson, 278 S.C. 481, 299 S.E.2d 322 (1982); Collins v. Collins, 283 S.C. 526, 324 S.E.2d 82 (Ct.App.1984).

Wife also contends that the Family Court Order does not comply with Rule 26(a), SCRFC 1, in that it failed to set forth adequate findings of fact to support on this issue. We disagree. The Order succinctly states that the evidence was insufficient to prove habitual drunkenness. Family Court's holding is adequate to enable the Court to determine the basis for the ruling. Hogan v. Hogan, 278 S.C. 547, 299 S.E.2d 481 (1983).

B. Custody

The three minor children of the parties are: Christina, age 6, Christopher, age 5, and Anthony, age 4. Wife was awarded custody at the pendente lite hearing, but [312 S.C. 415] Father received custody at the final merits hearing. Wife contends the Family Court erred in awarding custody to Husband. We agree.

The best interests of the child are paramount in custody disputes. The Family Court should consider "the character, fitness, attitude and inclinations on the part of each parent" as they impact on the child. Gandy v. Gandy, 297 S.C. 411, 414, 377 S.E.2d 312, 314 (1989). Further, the "tender years doctrine," which creates a preference for the mother of young children, should also be a factor weighed by the Family Court in...

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76 practice notes
  • Davis v. Davis, No. 4188.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 21, 2006
    ...327 S.C. at 364, 489 S.E.2d at 215. The court is required to consider all relevant factors in determining alimony. Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 415, 440 S.E.2d 884, 886 (1994); see also Patel v. Patel, 347 S.C. 281, 290, 555 S.E.2d 386, 391 (2001) (finding the trial court's denial of a......
  • Hunnicutt v. Hunnicutt, 2006-UP-024
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 12, 2006
    ...Code Ann. § 20-3-130(C) (Supp. 2004). The court is required to consider all relevant factors in determining alimony. Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 415, 440 S.E.2d 884, 886 (Ct. App. 1994). No one factor is dispositive. Lide v. Lide, 277 S.C. 155, 157, 283 S.E.2d 832, 833 (1981). A. Wife......
  • Calhoun v. Calhoun, No. 2793.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 17, 1998
    ...of the marriage and that such abuse existed at or near the time of filing for divorce. S.C.Code Ann. § 20-3-10 (1985); Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 440 S.E.2d 884 (1994); Fisher v. Fisher, 276 S.C. 375, 278 S.E.2d 780 At trial, the wife presented testimony, including her own, her child......
  • Doe v. Roe, No. 4119.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 5, 2006
    ...free to find the facts differently from the family court, we find the record overwhelmingly supports these findings. Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 440 S.E.2d 884 Brown, 331 S.C. at 497-98, 489 S.E.2d at 921. The supreme court, in Doe v. Queen, 347 S.C. 4, 552 S.E.2d 761 (2001), held tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
76 cases
  • Davis v. Davis, No. 4188.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 21, 2006
    ...327 S.C. at 364, 489 S.E.2d at 215. The court is required to consider all relevant factors in determining alimony. Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 415, 440 S.E.2d 884, 886 (1994); see also Patel v. Patel, 347 S.C. 281, 290, 555 S.E.2d 386, 391 (2001) (finding the trial court's denial of a......
  • Hunnicutt v. Hunnicutt, 2006-UP-024
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 12, 2006
    ...Code Ann. § 20-3-130(C) (Supp. 2004). The court is required to consider all relevant factors in determining alimony. Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 415, 440 S.E.2d 884, 886 (Ct. App. 1994). No one factor is dispositive. Lide v. Lide, 277 S.C. 155, 157, 283 S.E.2d 832, 833 (1981). A. Wife......
  • Calhoun v. Calhoun, No. 2793.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 17, 1998
    ...of the marriage and that such abuse existed at or near the time of filing for divorce. S.C.Code Ann. § 20-3-10 (1985); Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 440 S.E.2d 884 (1994); Fisher v. Fisher, 276 S.C. 375, 278 S.E.2d 780 At trial, the wife presented testimony, including her own, her child......
  • Doe v. Roe, No. 4119.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 5, 2006
    ...free to find the facts differently from the family court, we find the record overwhelmingly supports these findings. Epperly v. Epperly, 312 S.C. 411, 440 S.E.2d 884 Brown, 331 S.C. at 497-98, 489 S.E.2d at 921. The supreme court, in Doe v. Queen, 347 S.C. 4, 552 S.E.2d 761 (2001), held tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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