Simmons v. Simmons, No. 26970.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtJustice KITTREDGE.
PartiesEssie SIMMONS, Appellant,v.Rubin SIMMONS, Respondent.
Decision Date09 May 2011
Docket NumberNo. 26970.

392 S.C. 412
709 S.E.2d 666

Essie SIMMONS, Appellant,
v.
Rubin SIMMONS, Respondent.

No. 26970.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard Feb. 2, 2011.Decided May 9, 2011.


[709 S.E.2d 666]

Paul E. Tinkler and Joshua P. Stokes, both of Charleston, for appellant.Eduardo Kelvin Curry, of North Charleston, for respondent.Justice KITTREDGE.

[392 S.C. 413] We are presented with a 1990 family court-approved settlement agreement that has been determined to be void in part. This appeal presents the question of whether the family court may revisit, in whole or in part, the now partially voided agreement. The family court ruled in 2008 that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to reconsider the 1990 court-approved agreement. We reverse and remand for reconsideration of the court-approved agreement.

I.

Appellant Essie Simmons (Essie) and Rubin Simmons (Rubin) divorced in 1990. They entered into a settlement agreement, which was approved by the family court. A central part of the parties' agreement required Rubin to give Essie one-third of his Social Security benefits if he began receiving them at age 62 or one-half of those benefits if he began receiving them at age 65. The Social Security benefits were to “be construed only as a property settlement, and shall not in any way be considered or construed as alimony.” 1

[709 S.E.2d 667]

[392 S.C. 414] Rubin attained the age of 62 in 1994 and 65 in 1997, but he failed to pay Essie any portion of his Social Security benefits. In December of 2003, Essie filed a petition for a rule to show cause, seeking to compel compliance with the agreement. Rubin responded by filing a Rule 60(b)(4), SCRCP,2 motion, asserting that the family court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to order division of his Social Security benefits. The family court dismissed Rubin's subject matter jurisdiction challenge, and Rubin appealed. The court of appeals reversed. Simmons v. Simmons, 370 S.C. 109, 634 S.E.2d 1 (Ct.App.2006). The court found that the Social Security Act, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 407(a) (2010), preempted and expressly precluded the parties' agreement to divide Rubin's Social Security benefits. As a result, the court voided that portion the agreement.

At the time of the 1990 agreement, both parties believed Social Security benefits could be equitably divided as property. Essentially, the parties proceeded under a mutual mistake regarding the ability to equitably apportion Social Security benefits.

Because the parties' agreement had been voided in part, Essie sought to reopen the matter in its entirety, including equitable division and alimony. The family court granted Rubin's motion to dismiss, holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to revisit the parties' agreement, even that part declared void by the court of appeals. Essie sought reconsideration, relying in part on Rule 60(b)(5), SCRCP, which provides for relief from judgment when ...

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494 practice notes
  • Stoney v. Stoney, Appellate Case No. 2011-203410
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 29, 2018
    ...650, 652 (2011). In appeals from the family court, the appellate court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Simmons v. Simmons , 392 S.C. 412, 414, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). "De novo review permits appellate court fact-finding, notwithstanding the presence of evidence supporting the ......
  • Moore v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2013–001359.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 7, 2015
    ...in expert witness fees.I. In appeals from the family court, this Court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Simmons v. Simmons, 392 S.C. 412, 414–415, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). Thus, this Court has jurisdiction to find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the......
  • McKinney v. Pedery, Appellate Case No. 2013–002601.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • August 26, 2015
    ...fees?Standard of Review “In appeals from the family court, this Court reviews factual and legal issues de novo.” Simmons v. Simmons, 392 S.C. 412, 414–15, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). To that end, an appellate court may find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the e......
  • Stoney v. Stoney, Appellate Case No. 2011–203410
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 27, 2016
    ...650, 652 (2011). In appeals from the family court, the appellate court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Simmons v. Simmons , 392 S.C. 412, 414, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). “De novo review permits appellate court fact-finding, notwithstanding the presence of evidence supporting the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
491 cases
  • Stoney v. Stoney, Appellate Case No. 2011-203410
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 29, 2018
    ...650, 652 (2011). In appeals from the family court, the appellate court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Simmons v. Simmons , 392 S.C. 412, 414, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). "De novo review permits appellate court fact-finding, notwithstanding the presence of evidence supporting the ......
  • Moore v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2013–001359.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 7, 2015
    ...in expert witness fees.I. In appeals from the family court, this Court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Simmons v. Simmons, 392 S.C. 412, 414–415, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). Thus, this Court has jurisdiction to find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the......
  • McKinney v. Pedery, Appellate Case No. 2013–002601.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • August 26, 2015
    ...fees?Standard of Review “In appeals from the family court, this Court reviews factual and legal issues de novo.” Simmons v. Simmons, 392 S.C. 412, 414–15, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). To that end, an appellate court may find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the e......
  • Stoney v. Stoney, Appellate Case No. 2011–203410
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 27, 2016
    ...650, 652 (2011). In appeals from the family court, the appellate court reviews factual and legal issues de novo. Simmons v. Simmons , 392 S.C. 412, 414, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011). “De novo review permits appellate court fact-finding, notwithstanding the presence of evidence supporting the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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