Appeals

Deltoro v. McMullen

Deltoro v. McMullen, 322 S.C. 328, 471 S.E.2d 742 (Ct.App.1996), is a published May 1996 opinion from the South Carolina Court of Appeals.  It is the only published opinion from the South Carolina appellate courts which was an outright defeat for my client.

The case involved the right of the South Carolina family court to modify a Virginia child support order against a Virginia resident (Mr. McMullen).  After the family court modified his Virginia child support order, he retained me to handle his appeal.

On appeal, for the first time, Mr. McMullen raised the issue of the South Carolina family court’s lack subject matter jurisdiction to modify a Virginia child support order.  The appeal turned on whether to apply the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) or the recently enacted Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).  Modification of foreign support orders where the other party still lived in the using state was allowed under URESA; it was not allowed under UIFSA.  UIFSA was enacted after Ms. Deltoro filed her support modification case but before the case went to trial.

Initially, the Court of Appeals reversed the family court’s decision, holding that under UIFSA the family court did not have jurisdiction to modify Mr. McMullen’s child support obligation.  Ms. Deltoro’s attorney then sought rehearing, arguing (correctly) that, due to a savings clause, jurisdiction attached under URESA at the time of filing and remained throughout the case.

This appeal was part of the inspiration for my first published article on family law: Creating or Defeating South Carolina Jurisdiction in Multi-State Custody or Support Cases