Jackson v. Jackson, Appellate Case No. 2016-001208

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWILLIAMS, J.
Citation432 S.C. 415,853 S.E.2d 344
Parties Annie R. JACKSON, Respondent, v. Sammy Lee JACKSON, Louise Jackson, and Walter Williams, Appellants.
Decision Date09 December 2020
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2016-001208,Opinion No. 5785

432 S.C. 415
853 S.E.2d 344

Annie R. JACKSON, Respondent,
v.
Sammy Lee JACKSON, Louise Jackson, and Walter Williams, Appellants.

Appellate Case No. 2016-001208
Opinion No. 5785

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Submitted October 1, 2019
Filed December 9, 2020


M. Rita Metts, of Metts Law Firm, of Columbia, for Appellants.

Annie R. Jackson, of Darlington, pro se.

WILLIAMS, J.:

432 S.C. 422

Sammy Lee Jackson (Husband) appeals the family court's order granting Annie Jackson (Wife) a divorce and dividing the marital estate. Husband argues the family court erred in (1) failing to equitably divide the marital estate; (2) ordering him to pay half of their minor child's (Daughter's) graduation expenses and elective international school trip (the School Trip) costs; and (3) ordering him to pay alimony. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Husband and Wife married in Darlington, South Carolina, in 1984 and subsequently moved to New York. Husband and Wife both worked, and Wife took care of their home and children. The parties had three children, but two were emancipated at the time this action was filed; the other child—Daughter—was in high school and living with Wife.

In 1998, Wife moved back to Darlington due to Husband's infidelity. Husband remained in New York but periodically traveled to Darlington, and the parties continued a marital relationship until they separated in 2006.

In 2007, Husband was convicted of check and credit card fraud. Husband was sentenced to fourteen months’ imprisonment

432 S.C. 423

and was ordered to pay restitution. He was released from prison in 2008.

In March 2008, Wife obtained a family court order requiring Husband to pay $236.53 in weekly child support. Husband failed to make these payments. The family court reduced Husband's support obligation in 2011 due to the emancipation of the parties’ two oldest children. In the same ruling, the court ordered Husband to make payments towards his accrued child support arrearage.

In 2012, Husband suffered an injury and began receiving Social Security Disability (SSD). However, neither he nor Wife received SSD benefits for Daughter because he did not disclose on his application that he had children. In 2013, Wife contacted the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) regarding Husband's failure to pay child support. As a result, Husband began paying the child support, and Wife also started receiving SSD benefits for Daughter.

On March 20, 2014, Wife filed an action in family court, seeking a divorce on the grounds of adultery or one year's continuous separation; primary custody of Daughter; alimony; an upward modification of child support; a restraining order; and attorney's fees. Husband filed an answer and counterclaim, seeking a divorce on the ground of adultery; equitable division of the marital estate; an order denying Wife alimony, custody, and child support; and attorney's fees.1

At the time of trial, Husband was unable to work, receiving SSD and Workers’ Compensation (Workers’ Comp) benefits.2 Wife worked in school cafeterias earning minimum wage from 2004 until 2013. She stopped working because of a disability, and she had a pending SSD application. Wife received approximately $725 a month for Daughter's care—comprised of Husband's

432 S.C. 424

SSD benefits and child support—and $320 a month in food stamps.

853 S.E.2d 349

Husband testified and offered documentation of outstanding back taxes, credit card debts, and court ordered restitution, all of which existed at the time the marital litigation began.3 Husband asserted Wife's name was on all of the credit cards and she specifically used a Macy's credit card. However, he did not offer the cards as evidence, and he did not offer any receipts or billing statements showing Wife used the cards. Wife denied use of the credit cards, claiming Husband put her name on the credit card applications. Wife also asserted the parties began filing taxes separately in 1998.

Wife lives in a home on Society Hill Road (the Society Hill Property) that she and her siblings inherited in 2001. Wife agreed to purchase her siblings’ interest for five dollars and future installment payments, and they conveyed the Society Hill Property to her in 2010. She testified she was still paying each sibling but was unable to regularly pay.

Husband lives in Brooklyn, New York. He admitted he purchased property on Crane Lane (the Crane Lane Property) but claimed he sold it back to the previous owner after learning it was subject to a substantial lien. He did not offer any other evidence of this transaction.

By order dated May 9, 2016, the family court found Husband's conduct contributed to the parties’ separation and granted Wife a divorce on the ground of adultery.4 The court imputed a monthly income to Husband of $4,000 based on his lifestyle, and the family court also imputed a monthly income to Wife of $1,256 per month based on minimum wage. The family court gave Husband a credit for a lump sum payment Wife previously received from Social Security for Daughter but found Husband still had a $34,869.93 arrearage in child support. The court ordered Husband to continue to pay $47.30 per week in child support for Daughter and to pay $9.46 per week toward his arrearage. The court also ordered his arrearage

432 S.C. 425

payment to increase to $100 per week once Daughter was emancipated. The family court found that Husband testified he was willing to pay for one-half of Daughter's graduation expenses and one-half of the School Trip and ordered him to pay accordingly. The family court awarded the Crane Lane Property to Wife, finding it was marital property and that Husband waived any interest in the property. The family court found Wife inherited the Society Hill Property and it was Wife's nonmarital property. The court also ordered an equal division of any future lump sum settlement from Social Security, Workers’ Comp, or buyout from Husband's former employer, as well as Husband's retirement account. The court held Husband's criminal restitution was not a marital debt and both parties were responsible for the remaining debts in their respective names. The family court awarded Wife $200 per month in permanent periodic alimony and ordered the obligation to increase to $300 per month once Daughter was emancipated. The family court also ordered Husband to pay $5,000 of Wife's attorney's fees. This appeal followed.

ISSUES ON APPEAL

I. Did the family court err in ordering Husband to pay one-half of the expenses for Daughter's School Trip and graduation?

II. Did the family court err in dividing the marital estate?

III. Did the family court err in requiring Husband to pay alimony?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"The family court is a court of equity." Lewis v. Lewis , 392 S.C. 381, 386, 709 S.E.2d 650, 652 (2011). On appeal from the family court, an appellate court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Stoney v. Stoney , 422 S.C. 593, 596, 813 S.E.2d 486, 487 (2018) (per curiam). Thus, an appellate court has the authority to find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the evidence. Lewis , 392 S.C. at 384, 709 S.E.2d at 651. However, this broad scope of review does not require an appellate court to disregard the fact that the family court, which saw

853 S.E.2d 350

and heard the witnesses, was in a better position to evaluate their credibility and assign comparative weight to their testimony.

432 S.C. 426

Id. at 385, 392, 709 S.E.2d at 651–52, 655. Moreover, the appellant bears the burden of convincing an appellate court that the family court committed error or that the preponderance of the evidence is against the family court's findings. Id. at 392, 709 S.E.2d at 655. The appellant also bears the burden of providing an appellate court with an adequate record for review. Ricigliano v. Ricigliano , 413 S.C. 319, 338, 775 S.E.2d 701, 711–12 (Ct. App. 2015).

LAW/ANALYSIS

As an initial matter, we find Husband abandoned several of his issues on appeal. Husband argues the family court erred in (1) imputing his income, (2) ordering him to pay attorney's fees, and (3) denying a motion for recusal. However, Husband did not cite any authority to support his assertions. Instead, he solely discussed the facts relating to his arguments and summarily concluded the family court erred. See Rule 208(b)(1)(E), SCACR (requiring each of the appellant's argument sections contain "discussion and citations of authority"); Bryson v. Bryson , 378 S.C. 502, 510, 662 S.E.2d 611, 615 (Ct. App. 2008) ("An issue is deemed abandoned and will not be considered on appeal if the argument is raised in a brief but not supported by authority."); see also Butler v. Butler , 385 S.C. 328, 343, 684 S.E.2d 191, 199 (Ct. App. 2009) (declining to address...

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1 practice notes
  • State v. Reyes, Appellate Case No. 2019-001593
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 16, 2020
    ...instruction or otherwise comment to the jury on" suicide-attempt evidence because such a charge may be an improper charge on the facts); 853 S.E.2d 344 State v. Belcher , 385 S.C. 597, 600, 685 S.E.2d 802, 803-04 (2009) (requiring limitations to a jury charge allowing malice to be inferred ......
1 cases
  • State v. Reyes, Appellate Case No. 2019-001593
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 16, 2020
    ...instruction or otherwise comment to the jury on" suicide-attempt evidence because such a charge may be an improper charge on the facts); 853 S.E.2d 344 State v. Belcher , 385 S.C. 597, 600, 685 S.E.2d 802, 803-04 (2009) (requiring limitations to a jury charge allowing malice to be inferred ......

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