Sexton v. Sexton

Decision Date18 January 1993
Docket NumberNo. 23812,23812
Citation427 S.E.2d 665,310 S.C. 501
PartiesJanet T. SEXTON, Respondent, v. Patrick B. SEXTON and Neely Hunter Sexton, Sr., and Neely Hunter Sexton, Sr., as personal representative of the estate of Freida P. Sexton, deceased, Defendants, of whom Patrick B. Sexton is, Petitioner. . Heard
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Melvin L. Roberts, York, for respondent.

Jack G. Leader, of Elrod, Jones, Leader & Benson, Rock Hill, for defendants.

MOORE, Justice:

This case is before us on a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Appeal's decision reported at --- S.C. ----, 416 S.E.2d 649 (Ct.App.1992), affirming an award of attorney's fees. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

Respondent (Wife) sued petitioner (Husband) for a divorce. During the divorce proceedings, a dispute arose regarding whether the marital home should be included in the marital estate since title to the home was held by Husband's father, Neely Sexton. In October 1988, a divorce decree was issued which equitably divided the parties' personal property and determined the issues of child custody and support. Equitable division of the marital home was held in abeyance while the issue whether the family court had subject matter jurisdiction to divide property held by a third party was determined by this Court on appeal. Sexton v. Sexton, 298 S.C. 359, 380 S.E.2d 832 (1989). The issues of alimony and attorney's fees were also held in abeyance.

On remand from this Court, the family court equitably divided the marital home fifty percent to each party, awarded Wife alimony of $375 per month, and awarded Wife $9,000 in attorney's fees.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals held the family court's finding regarding Husband's earning capacity was unsupported by the evidence. Accordingly, it reversed the award of alimony to Wife and remanded the issue for redetermination. The Court of Appeals also found the equitable division of the marital home inappropriate based on the relative contributions of the parties, including contributions made by Husband's father. The issue of equitable division was therefore remanded for redetermination. The only issue affirmed on appeal was the $9,000 attorney's fee award.

ISSUE

Whether affirmance of the $9,000 attorney's fee was proper?

DISCUSSION

Husband argues the Court of Appeals should not have affirmed the award of attorney's fees for the three reasons discussed below.

(1) Beneficial results were reversed on appeal.

The beneficial result obtained by counsel is a factor essential to determining whether an attorney's fee should be awarded. Glasscock v. Glasscock, 304 S.C. 158, 403 S.E.2d 313 (1991). Husband argues this factor is now undetermined since the issues of alimony and equitable division have been remanded for reconsideration. We agree. This Court has previously reversed the award of an attorney's fee where the substantive results achieved by counsel were reversed on appeal. See, e.g., E.D.M. v. T.A.M., --- S.C. ----, 415 S.E.2d 812 (1992).

(2) Husband's earning capacity is undetermined.

A party's ability to pay is another essential factor in determining whether an attorney's fee should be awarded, as are the parties' respective financial conditions and the effect of the award on each party's standard of living. Glasscock v. Glasscock, supra. Since...

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  • Stoney v. Stoney, Appellate Case No. 2011-203410
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • August 29, 2018
    ...of the award on each party's standard of living." Rogers v. Rogers , 343 S.C. 329, 334, 540 S.E.2d 840, 842 (2001) (citing Sexton , 310 S.C. at 503, 427 S.E.2d at 666 ). Here, the Final Order generally acknowledges the E.D.M. factors in deciding whether to award attorney's fees, but this fi......
  • Stoney v. Stoney
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • July 27, 2016
    ...results obtained by counsel are reversed on appeal, the attorney's fee award must also be reversed. Sexton v. Sexton , 310 S.C. 501, 503–04, 427 S.E.2d 665, 666 (1993) ; see also , E.D.M. v. T.A.M. , 307 S.C. 471, 477, 415 S.E.2d 812, 816 (1992) (reversing the award of attorney's fees where......
  • Srivastava v. Srivastava
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 23, 2014
    ...respective financial conditions and the effect of the award on each party's standard of living.” Id. (citing Sexton v. Sexton, 310 S.C. 501, 503, 427 S.E.2d 665, 666 (1993) ). Here, the family court generally acknowledged in its final order that it considered the four factors in E.D.M. v. T......
  • Browder v. Browder
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • March 26, 2009
    ...results achieved by counsel are reversed on appeal, an award of attorney's fees is subject to reversal. Sexton v. Sexton, 310 S.C. 501, 503, 427 S.E.2d 665, 666 (1993). In light of our disposition as to alimony, the results achieved by Wife's counsel were beneficial. Accordingly, we find an......
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