Stevens v. Stevens, No. 18191

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtLEWIS; TAYLOR
Citation244 S.C. 113,135 S.E.2d 725
Decision Date31 March 1964
Docket NumberNo. 18191
PartiesChester B. STEVENS, Jr., Appellant, v. Elizabeth Payne STEVENS, Respondent.

Page 725

135 S.E.2d 725
244 S.C. 113
Chester B. STEVENS, Jr., Appellant,
v.
Elizabeth Payne STEVENS, Respondent.
No. 18191.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
March 31, 1964.

McEachin, Townsend & Zeigler, Florence, for appellant.

[244 S.C. 114] W. H. Caldwell, Florence, for respondent.

LEWIS, Justice.

The plaintiff-husband seeks in this action to establish, through the equitable doctrine of a resulting trust, title to an undivided one-half interest in two lots and the improvements thereon located on Resewood Drive, in the City of Florence, South Carolina, legal title to which is now in the name of the defendant, his wife. The lots in question were purchased on January 2, 1951 and title was taken in the name of the defendant. Thereafter, a house was constructed on the lots and the plaintiff and the defendant resided therein with their two children until about October 9, 1962, when, due to marital difficulties, the defendant vacated the premises, taking the two children and most of the furniture and applicances with her.

This action was instituted by the plaintiff in December 1962. He alleged in his complaint that, although title to the property was placed in the name of the defendant at the time of purchase, he contributed fifty (50%) per cent or more toward the

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cost and improvement thereof, with the understanding of the parties that each would own a [244 S.C. 115] one-half undivided interest therein. Upon these allegations, the plaintiff sought a determination that he was the owner of a one-half interest in the land and the improvements placed thereon. The defendant filed an answer in which she denied the material allegations of the complaint and alleged that (1) the lots and improvements thereon were paid for largely out of her earnings, (2) if the plaintiff contributed any part of the cost of the lots and the improvements, he did so with full knowledge that title to the property was in her name and as a gift to her by way of discharge of his marital obligation or support of his family, and (3) the claim of the plaintiff is now barred by the Statute of Limitations. All issues were referred to the Master in Equity for Florence County, who filed a comprehensive report in which he held that the plaintiff had failed to establish his claimed title to the property in question by clear and convincing evidence and recommended that the complaint be dismissed. Upon exceptions being filed thereto, the Resident Judge of the Twelfth Circuit affirmed the report of the Master and ordered the complaint dismissed. From the concurrent adverse findings of the Master and Circuit Judge, the plaintiff has appealed.

The plaintiff claims that he contributed at least one-half toward the purchase of the property and the construction of the improvements thereon under circumstances which gave rise to a resulting trust in his favor and that the court should so decree. The burden was upon the plaintiff to establish the alleged resulting trust by clear, definite and convincing evidence. Privette v. Garrison, 235 S.C. 119, 110 S.E.2d 17; Green v. Green, 237 S.C. 424, 117 S.E.2d 583.

The master and the circuit judge concurred in the factual finding that the plaintiff had failed to establish the alleged resulting trust by the required degree of proof. Whether or not their concurrent findings upon this basic issue should be sustained is the sole question to be determined in this appeal. This issue must be [244 S.C. 116] approached with the well-settled principle in mind that concurrent findings of fact by the master and circuit judge in an equity case will not be disturbed on appeal unless unsupported by the evidence, or clearly against the weight of the evidence when viewed in the light of the degree of proof required.

The parties were...

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2 practice notes
  • Parrott v. Parrott, No. 21712
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 26, 1982
    ...in the recipient. Caulk v. Caulk, 211 S.C. 57, 43 S.E.2d 600; Clanton v. Clanton, 229 S.C. 356, 92 S.E.2d 878; Stevens v. Stevens, 244 S.C. 113, 135 S.E.2d 725; Kirby v. Kirby, 270 S.C. 137, 241 S.E.2d 415. In Burgess v. Burgess, S.C., 286 S.E.2d 142, however, we restored interspousal[278 S......
  • Lollis v. Lollis, No. 22696
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 10, 1987
    ...arises; on the contrary, the presumption is that [291 S.C. 529] the purchase was a gift to the wife or child. Stevens v. Stevens, 244 S.C. 113, 135 S.E.2d 725 (1964); Green, supra; Caulk, supra. The presumption of a gift may be rebutted by parol evidence or circumstances showing a contrary ......
2 cases
  • Parrott v. Parrott, No. 21712
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 26, 1982
    ...in the recipient. Caulk v. Caulk, 211 S.C. 57, 43 S.E.2d 600; Clanton v. Clanton, 229 S.C. 356, 92 S.E.2d 878; Stevens v. Stevens, 244 S.C. 113, 135 S.E.2d 725; Kirby v. Kirby, 270 S.C. 137, 241 S.E.2d 415. In Burgess v. Burgess, S.C., 286 S.E.2d 142, however, we restored interspousal[278 S......
  • Lollis v. Lollis, No. 22696
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 10, 1987
    ...arises; on the contrary, the presumption is that [291 S.C. 529] the purchase was a gift to the wife or child. Stevens v. Stevens, 244 S.C. 113, 135 S.E.2d 725 (1964); Green, supra; Caulk, supra. The presumption of a gift may be rebutted by parol evidence or circumstances showing a contrary ......

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