McKinney v. PederyAnnotate this Case
Petitioner Frank Pedery argued the court of appeals erred in affirming the family court's termination of Respondent Bonnie McKinney's alimony obligation to him and the family court's failure to award Pedery attorney's fees. In June 2009, McKinney sought a reduction or termination of her alimony obligation based on Pedery's continued cohabitation with his paramour, Cynthia Hamby, and a substantial change of circumstances. According to McKinney, a decrease in her income and deterioration of her health constituted the substantial change in circumstances. On August 26, 2011, the family court issued an order terminating McKinney's alimony obligation based on its finding that Pedery "continuously resided with [Hamby] for not only in excess of ninety days but on a continuous basis for an extended period of time . . . ." The court of appeals affirmed the family court's order. Pedery argues that McKinney failed to meet her burden of proof with regard to her argument that Pedery continuously cohabitated with Hamby for purposes of S.C. Code Ann. 20-3-130(B). After review, the Supreme Court agreed, "[w]e do not deny that the facts indicate that Pedery and Hamby's living situation is a permanent arrangement of a romantic nature. Rather, we focus on the specific requirement under the plain language of section 20-3-130(B). If the statute merely required the supported spouse to "reside with" his paramour, then termination of McKinney's alimony obligation would be proper. However, the statute mandates cohabitation for ninety consecutive days. The Court found that the testimony in the record concerning McKinney's changed income and health issues could support, at least, a reduction in McKinney's alimony obligation. Therefore the case was remanded the case for the family court to determine whether McKinney's alimony obligation should be reduced or terminated on the basis of a change in circumstances in her health and income.