McNaughton v. McNaughton, 19442

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation189 S.E.2d 820,258 S.C. 554
Decision Date15 June 1972
Docket NumberNo. 19442,19442
PartiesStella Marie McNAUGHTON, Appellant, v. John R. McNAUGHTON, Respondent.

Geddes H. Martin, of Robinson, Paul & Belk, Charleston Heights, for appellant.

John R. McNaughton, pro se.

LITTLEJOHN, Justice.

Stella Marie McNaughton was granted an absolute divorce from John R. McNaughton on the ground of desertion. The court denied her request for alimony and attorney fees, and appeals.

The McNaughtons were married in 1943 and lived together until January 1, 1970. For 22 years the husband was engaged in the printing business in Charleston. During the last few years he would do the actual printing while his wife would take care of the office operations. The wife also operated a wedding and party shop, dealing in wedding invitations, party napkins, and similar items.

Over the years, an aura of incompatibility crept into the McNaughtons' relationship. On January 1, 1970, the husband moved out of their home and did not return.

Hans F. Paul, Esquire, of the Charleston bar was a friend and nextdoor neighbor of the McNaughtons. Shortly after the husband's departure, both parties apparently turned to him for assistance in ironing out certain matters, including the distribution and settlement of their business and property interests. The following agreement was prepared by Mr. Paul and was executed by the husband and wife on February 7, 1970:

'PROPERTY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

'Whereas, the parties hereto are experiencing irreconcilable marriage difficulties, and the probabilities of a reconciliation are at least remote; and

'Whereas, the parties recognize that some distribution of the property of each must be made, and the ownership of other property must be determined. It is the desire of the parties hereto to, by the signing of this Agreement, take out of contemplation in any suit for divorce absolute or limited divorce, the hereinafter set forth; and

'Whereas, John R. McNaughton has heretofore done business as McNaughton Printing Company, with principal offices at 4262 Spruill Avenue, North Charleston, South Carolina, and in this regard, the business has acquired certain accounts receivable and equipment, merchandise, fixtures and appliances. The said Stella Marie McNaughton has heretofore, and continues, to do business as a party supply house and wedding consultant at the same address. In this regard, she has various supplies, merchandise, accounts receivable and payable; and

'Whereas, the parties own various and sundry real estate which the said John R. McNaughton is desirous of conveying to the said Stella Marie McNaughton.

'Now, therefore, in consideration of the mutual benefits and to relieve the said John R. McNaughton of any further financial responsibility to the said Stella Marie McNaughton, the parties hereto agree as follows:

'First: That the said John R. McNaughton does hereby sell, convey, setover, transfer and assign all of his right, title and interest in and to the business known as McNaughton Printing Company, including all accounts receivable and payable, all wares, merchandise, supplies, fixtures, equipment and appliances, as will by reference to Exhibit 'A' more fully and at large appear. The same is made a part hereof.

'Second: The said John R. McNaughton does hereby release, quitclaim, remise and forever relinquish any right, title and interest in and to the business of the said Stella Marie McNaughton, as well as all wares, merchandise, supplies and equipment appertaining thereto.

'Third: The said John R. McNaughton does by separate Deed hereby convey all of his right, title and interest in and to that said Lease Agreement dated August 15, 1957, and recorded in the RMC Office for Charleston County in Book K--64, page 360. Reference is made to the said instrument which shall be executed simultaneously herewith and made a part of this Agreement.

'Fourth: The said John R. McNaughton does hereby assign, set-over, quitclaim, transfer and remise all of his right, title and interest in and to the household furnishings and effects situate within the premises heretofore occupied by the parties as their residence and described in the aforesaid Lease Agreement.

'Fifth: The said Stella Marie McNaughton does hereby release and discharge the said John R. McNaughton from any further financial responsibility until such time as a Court of competent jurisdiction determines the duties and responsibilities that each has to the other and in consideration of the conveyances herein effected.

'Sixth: The said Stella Marie McNaughton will not make claim for support and/or alimony before such time as a suit for divorce absolute or a limited divorce is instituted in a Court of competent jurisdiction, and the above provisions shall be considered and asserted as a defense to such claim.

'Seventh: Either party hereto is relieved one from the other of making any claim for financial assistance and/or support from the other and neither party shall assert any right thereto.'

On May 13, 1971, the wife commenced this action in the Family Court for Charleston County. Her complaint alleged desertion by the husband and prayed for an award of an absolute divorce, alimony, and attorneys' fees. The husband's answer admitted the separation but denied that it was without cause or excuse or legal provocation.

The wife was awarded $100 temporary attorneys' fees and $100...

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18 cases
  • Davis v. Davis
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 21, 2006
    ...to the marital relationship." Spence v. Spence, 260 S.C. 526, 529, 197 S.E.2d 683, 684 (1973) (quoting McNaughton v. McNaughton, 258 S.C. 554, 558, 189 S.E.2d 820, 822 (1972)); Johnson v. Johnson, 296 S.C. 289, 300, 372 S.E.2d 107, 113 (Ct.App.1988). "Generally, alimony should place the sup......
  • Collins v. Collins
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • September 24, 1984
    ...are able to work. An award of alimony and attorney's fees rests within the sound discretion of the trial judge, McNaughton v. McNaughton, 258 S.C. 554, 189 S.E.2d 820 (1972), upon a consideration of, among other things, the needs of the petitioner and the ability of the respondent to pay. L......
  • Nienow v. Nienow
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 9, 1977
    ...attorneys' fees were justified. Like alimony, attorneys' fees are generally discretionary with the trial judge. McNaughton v. McNaughton, 258 S.C. 554, 189 S.E.2d 820 (1972); Smith v. Smith, supra. We have heretofore recognized the legal prerogative of the appellant to maintain an independe......
  • Bingert v. Bingert
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • November 19, 1976
    ...Lum v. Lum, 138 N.J.Eq. 198, 47 A.2d 555 (1946); Kontner v. Kontner, 103 Ohio App. 360, 139 N.E.2d 366 (1956); McNaughton v. McNaughton, 258 S.C. 554, 189 S.E.2d 820 (1972). We believe, however, that the right to support of one spouse by the other during marriage is, as defined by our statu......
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