Tuesday, January 23, 2007

S.C. Supreme Court offers guidance on when a matter is stayed on appeal

In Arnal v. Fraser, the Supreme Court offers guidance on when a matter is stayed under the appellate court rules. Rule 225(a), SCACR, in governing matters which are stayed while on appeal, provides:

As a general rule, the service of a notice of appeal in a civil matter acts to automatically stay matters decided in the order on appeal, and to automatically stay the relief ordered in the appealed order, judgment, or decree. This automatic stay continues in effect for the duration of the appeal unless lifted by order of the trial judge, appellate court, or judge or justice thereof. The lower court retains jurisdiction over matters not affected by the appeal including the authority to enforce any matters not stayed by the appeal.

This case dealt with several orders of the family court that Father argued were void because the family court was without jurisdiction. Father's first argument dealt with enforcement of a order requiring him to make payments to Mother. Although this order was appealed, the Supreme Court pointed out that family court orders regarding a child or requiring payment of support for a spouse or child's are exceptions to the automatic stay. Rule 225(b)(6), SCACR. Hence, the was jurisdiction in the family court.

The next issue dealt with medical expenses for the child. The issue of apportioning medical expenses from the final divorce order was on appeal, but Father asked the family court to determine whether the medical expenses previously submitted by Mother were subject to the provisions of the final order. This issue could be addressed by the family court because the court was not modifying the order on appeal.

Father next argued that the family court lacked jurisdiction to order him to pay certain educational expenses. The amended final order on appeal did not address educational expenses, thus these matters were not affected by the appeal, and the family court had jurisdiction to issue its orders.

Finally, Father argued that the family court erred in terminating his overnight visitation for failing to meet the videotaping requirements mandated by the family court. The final divorce order on appeal set very specific parameters for Father's visitation. Thus, the family court did not have jurisdiction to modify terms of visitation because the appellate court would have exclusive jurisdiction over the matter on appeal.

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