Sealy v. Sealy, No. 1144

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtCURETON
Citation295 S.C. 281,368 S.E.2d 85
PartiesVictoria SEALY (Mollinet), Respondent, v. Barbara N. SEALY and Carl F. Sealy, Appellants. . Heard
Decision Date22 March 1988
Docket NumberNo. 1144

Page 85

368 S.E.2d 85
295 S.C. 281
Victoria SEALY (Mollinet), Respondent,
v.
Barbara N. SEALY and Carl F. Sealy, Appellants.
No. 1144.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard March 22, 1988.
Decided April 25, 1988.

Page 86

[295 S.C. 282] Michael L. Brown, Jr., Rock Hill, for appellants.

Victoria Sealy (Mollinet), pro se.

CURETON, Judge:

Respondent, Victoria Sealy Mollinet, petitioned the family court to change custody of her two daughters from their paternal grandmother to herself. The family court granted the petition. The father and grandmother appeal. We affirm.

Victoria Sealy Mollinet (mother) and Carl F. Sealy (father) were married in 1982 and divorced in 1985. They have two children ages five and three years. The divorce decree found both the father and mother unfit to have custody of the children due to their instability and immaturity and granted custody to the paternal grandmother. The mother's home environment was found to be morally unfit for raising the children because she was then living in an adulterous relationship with a man she subsequently married. The divorce decree provided custody would remain with the grandmother:

"until a substantial change of circumstances occur [sic], or after six months have passed, if either party petitions the Court for custody and can show a substantial change of circumstances concerning their lives and their ability to care for the minor children."

The mother relies principally on two changes of condition to establish her right to a change of custody. She has now married her paramour with whom she began cohabitation just prior to the date of the divorce decree, and she and her new husband have established a home in Virginia. The trial judge found that there had been a

Page 87

substantial change of circumstances "in the lifestyle of the [mother]." He specifically noted the mother's remarriage, her establishment of a quiet and respectable home in Virginia, the fact she is a provider of day care services in her home and the fact she had become more responsible than she was at the time of the divorce hearing.

[295 S.C. 283] The appellants claim error in the court's finding the mother's circumstances have changed such as to warrant a change of custody. They argue: (1) remarriage alone is not a sufficient basis to change custody; (2) the father can provide a better home for the children; (3) the custody change requires a removal of the children from this State, which is contrary to the presumption against removal of a child from the State; and (4) the father is in a better financial condition than the mother to support the children. They also argue the trial judge's finding the mother is more responsible now than at the time of the divorce is not sustained by the record. As evidence of this, they point out she missed one-third of her visitation periods with her children, she fell behind in her child support payments, and has moved three times since the divorce.

We hold there is ample evidence to support the trial judge's finding that there had been sufficient change of circumstances to warrant a change of custody of the minor children from the grandmother to the mother.

A party seeking a change of custody assumes the burden of establishing facts and circumstances showing changed conditions that substantially affect the interest and welfare of the child. Chandler v. Merrell, 291 S.C. 227, 353 S.E.2d 135 (1987); Rodgers v. Gray, 285 S.C. 111, 328 S.E.2d 478 (1985); Stutz v. Funderburk, 272 S.C. 273, 252 S.E.2d 32 (1979). Such changed conditions must have occurred since the decree awarding custody. McCoy v. McCoy, 283 S.C. 383, 323 S.E.2d 517 (1984). Although this court's scope of...

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11 practice notes
  • Lewis v. Lewis, No. 26973.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 9, 2011
    ...findings of the trial judge who saw and heard the witnesses and was in a better position to evaluate their testimony.”); Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 283, 368 S.E.2d 85, 87 (Ct.App.1988) (finding the appellate court had “ample evidence to support the trial judge's finding”).5 [709 S.E.2d 6......
  • Woodall v. Woodall, No. 24434
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 6, 1996
    ...should be given broad discretion. McAlister v. Patterson, 278 S.C. 481, 299 S.E.2d 322 (1982); Hough v. Hough, supra; Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 368 S.E.2d 85 (Ct.App.1988). Furthermore, the appellate court should be reluctant to substitute its own evaluation of the evidence on child cus......
  • Morehouse v. Morehouse, No. 2276
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 2, 1994
    ...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......
  • Pitt v. Olds, No. 2692
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 9, 1997
    ...516, 519, 419 S.E.2d 373, 375 (Ct.App.1992); Eckstein v. Eckstein, 306 S.C. 167, 169, 410 S.E.2d 578, 579 (Ct.App.1991); Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 284, 368 S.E.2d 85, 87 (Ct.App.1988). [327 S.C. 520] There is no question but that Father has been actively involved in Ashton's life. There......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Lewis v. Lewis, No. 26973.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 9, 2011
    ...findings of the trial judge who saw and heard the witnesses and was in a better position to evaluate their testimony.”); Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 283, 368 S.E.2d 85, 87 (Ct.App.1988) (finding the appellate court had “ample evidence to support the trial judge's finding”).5 [709 S.E.2d 6......
  • Woodall v. Woodall, No. 24434
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 6, 1996
    ...should be given broad discretion. McAlister v. Patterson, 278 S.C. 481, 299 S.E.2d 322 (1982); Hough v. Hough, supra; Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 368 S.E.2d 85 (Ct.App.1988). Furthermore, the appellate court should be reluctant to substitute its own evaluation of the evidence on child cus......
  • Morehouse v. Morehouse, No. 2276
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 2, 1994
    ...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......
  • Pitt v. Olds, No. 2692
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 9, 1997
    ...516, 519, 419 S.E.2d 373, 375 (Ct.App.1992); Eckstein v. Eckstein, 306 S.C. 167, 169, 410 S.E.2d 578, 579 (Ct.App.1991); Sealy v. Sealy, 295 S.C. 281, 284, 368 S.E.2d 85, 87 (Ct.App.1988). [327 S.C. 520] There is no question but that Father has been actively involved in Ashton's life. There......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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