Morehouse v. Morehouse, No. 2276

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtCONNOR; CURETON, J., and HOWARD
Citation452 S.E.2d 632,317 S.C. 222
PartiesPatricia M. MOREHOUSE, Appellant-Respondent, v. Bruce L. MOREHOUSE, Respondent-Appellant. . Heard
Decision Date02 November 1994
Docket NumberNo. 2276

Page 632

452 S.E.2d 632
317 S.C. 222
Patricia M. MOREHOUSE, Appellant-Respondent,
v.
Bruce L. MOREHOUSE, Respondent-Appellant.
No. 2276.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard Nov. 2, 1994.
Decided Dec. 19, 1994.

Page 633

[317 S.C. 224] Allen C. Pate, and Mary Layton Wells, of Scott & Roberts, Florence, for appellant-respondent.

Joseph T. McElveen, Jr., of Bryan, Bahnmuller, King, Goldman & McElveen, Sumter, for respondent-appellant.

CONNOR, Judge:

In this domestic action, both Patricia M. Morehouse and Bruce L. Morehouse appeal various aspects of the family court's order. After a thorough review of the record, briefs, and arguments of counsel, we affirm.

Wife brought this action against Husband for, among other things, separate support and maintenance, alimony, custody of [317 S.C. 225] the parties' three-year old daughter, child support, visitation, equitable division of marital assets, and attorney fees. Husband counterclaimed for custody, child support, equitable division of the marital assets and attorney fees, and requested the court bar Wife from alimony. The family court awarded Wife temporary custody and established visitation and support pending a final hearing.

Wife subsequently moved to terminate visitation pending a Department of Social Services (DSS) investigation into allegations Husband physically and sexually abused the daughter. At the request of DSS, Husband

Page 634

accepted a voluntary restriction on his visitation, which the family court approved. In addition, the court ordered an evaluation by a mental health professional to assess the abuse allegations. After the investigation, the court removed the visitation restrictions.

Wife subsequently amended her complaint to seek a divorce on the ground of one year continuous separation. The family court held a final hearing and granted the parties a divorce, awarded custody to Husband, awarded Wife visitation, denied alimony, divided the marital estate fifty-fifty, ordered Wife to pay $10,000 of Husband's attorney fees, and ordered Husband to pay the guardian ad litem and expert witness fees. Both parties appeal. 1

I. Custody

Wife argues the family court erred in awarding custody of their young daughter to Husband, claiming the best interest of the child favored awarding custody to her. The best interests of the child are paramount in custody disputes. Epperly v. Epperly, --- S.C. ----, 440 S.E.2d 884 (1994). The family court must consider the character, fitness, attitude and inclinations on the part of each parent as they impact the child. Id.

In reviewing the family court's factual determinations, we may take our own view of the preponderance of the evidence. Hough v. Hough, --- S.C. ----, 440 S.E.2d [317 S.C. 226] 387 (Ct.App.1994). We need not, however, disregard the findings of the trial court. Id. Particularly where evidence is disputed, we may adhere to the findings of the trial judge, who saw and heard the witnesses and was in a superior position to judge their credibility. Id.; Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 368 S.E.2d 85 (Ct.App.1988). We should be reluctant to substitute our own evaluation of the evidence on child custody for that of the trial court. Stroman v. Williams, 291 S.C. 376, 353 S.E.2d 704 (Ct.App.1987).

The family court judge noted the parties shared the responsibilities and duties concerning the child. He rejected Wife's claims Husband had abused the child, and stated he "was comfortable that the [Husband] did not do anything improper to his child and that he does not comprise a threat to her in any way." He further held the unfounded claims of abuse reflected the degree of animosity and anger Wife felt toward Husband and caused the child to be subjected to unnecessary examinations as well as repeated inquiries and counselling. In addition he noted Wife continued to live with her parents and found that environment "less than desirable" for the child. The judge also noted Husband continued to reside in the former marital home where the child grew up. He placed emphasis on Husband's unwavering commitment to maintaining a close relationship with the child. He further stated he "observed the demeanor and presentations of the parties and their witnesses, and had the benefit of the recommendation of ... the Guardian ad litem, as well as Dr. Ralston" who had evaluated the child because of Wife's allegations of abuse and had found no evidence to support them. Moreover, the guardian recommended placing the child with Husband.

The family court stated that although Wife accused Husband "of almost every kind of...

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9 practice notes
  • Calhoun v. Calhoun, No. 2793.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 17, 1998
    ...earnings of both spouses in addition to the twelve factors set out in S.C.Code Ann. § 20-3-130(C) (Supp.1997). See Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 452 S.E.2d 632 In weighing the relevant factors, the family court found the husband's retirement income was substantially less than his pr......
  • Jenkins v. Jenkins, No. 3331.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 16, 2001
    ...is equitable, it is irrelevant that we might have weighed specific factors differently than the family court. Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 229, 452 S.E.2d 632, 636 (Ct.App.1994). This court will affirm the family court judge if it can be determined that the judge addressed the fact......
  • Baker v. Wolfe, No. 2919.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 21, 1998
    ...This is especially true in cases involving the welfare and best interests of children.") (citations omitted); Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 225-26, 452 S.E.2d 632, 634 (Ct.App.1994) ("In reviewing the family court's factual determinations, we may take our own view of the p......
  • Fields v. Fields, No. 3230.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 6, 2000
    ...will affirm the family court's valuation of marital property if it is within the range of the evidence presented); Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 452 S.E.2d 632 (Ct.App.1994) (same). Here, the family court divided the two stocks in question, awarding the Dove stock to Wife because it......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Calhoun v. Calhoun, No. 2793.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 17, 1998
    ...earnings of both spouses in addition to the twelve factors set out in S.C.Code Ann. § 20-3-130(C) (Supp.1997). See Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 452 S.E.2d 632 In weighing the relevant factors, the family court found the husband's retirement income was substantially less than his pr......
  • Jenkins v. Jenkins, No. 3331.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 16, 2001
    ...is equitable, it is irrelevant that we might have weighed specific factors differently than the family court. Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 229, 452 S.E.2d 632, 636 (Ct.App.1994). This court will affirm the family court judge if it can be determined that the judge addressed the fact......
  • Baker v. Wolfe, No. 2919.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 21, 1998
    ...This is especially true in cases involving the welfare and best interests of children.") (citations omitted); Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 225-26, 452 S.E.2d 632, 634 (Ct.App.1994) ("In reviewing the family court's factual determinations, we may take our own view of the p......
  • Fields v. Fields, No. 3230.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 6, 2000
    ...will affirm the family court's valuation of marital property if it is within the range of the evidence presented); Morehouse v. Morehouse, 317 S.C. 222, 452 S.E.2d 632 (Ct.App.1994) (same). Here, the family court divided the two stocks in question, awarding the Dove stock to Wife because it......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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