May 30, 2012 South Carolina pubished opinion

Tillman v Oakes

Father sought a change in custody based on a breakdown in communication and other “serious issues” after trial, the family court ordered a change in custody for one child. It based its decision on several findings including the breakdown in communication, an incident of excessive corporal punishment and the desires of the child. After the appeal was filed, father filed another petition alleging abuse and seeking to terminate visitation for mother. The family court held it was without jurisdiction and instructed father to seek relief from the appeals court. The panel reversed and remanded for a new trial on the original order. It found that the findings of the family court insufficient to justify a change in custody. Specifically, it noted the breakdown in communication was mutual, the corporal punishment incident was isolated and the ten year old child’s desires were not entitled to much weight. It also expressed concern that the family court did not include all the “serious issues” which it felt justified the change of custody. On the new petition, the panel held the petition was not automatically stayed and that the appeal did not affect visitation rights as neither party appealed those provisions. It ordered the family court to provide periodic updates as to the visitation petition.

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