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How a Lack of Credibility Can Hurt in the Long Run: Conits v. Conits

While divorce proceedings can be settled out of court, sometimes one of the spouses involved takes certain action that makes things difficult. Whether this is repeatedly missing meetings that were mutually agreed upon, or hiding assets, or any of a thousand other things, it draws out a divorce proceeding to new lengths in both stress levels and time spent and leaves the behaving spouse frustrated.

 

Every once in awhile, though, a misbehaving spouse in a divorce proceeding goes too far and pays the consequences. This is exactly what happened in a recent divorce case handed down by the South Carolina Court of Appeals in mid-March, Conits v. Conits.

 

The Facts

 

Wife Peggy and husband Spiro were married in Greece in 1985. Soon thereafter, the couple moved to Greenville, South Carolina. At the time of the marriage, the husband owned property in both Travelers Rest and Simpsonville, South Carolina, as well as property in Greece. During the marriage, the husband opened four restaurants in the area and bought numerous other pieces of property. Throughout the marriage, the wife stayed at home to raise their three children, all of whom were grown adults at the time she filed for divorce in 2009.

 

Inconsistent Financial Disclosures

 

After the divorce was filed, both husband and wife disclosed their assets and made claims as to whether their property was marital or nonmarital. The husband, however, showed a complete lack of credibility when it came to his financial claims.

 

He claimed that $235,000 that he borrowed from his brother, and which his wife knew nothing about, was a marital debt, and should therefore be split in the divorce.

 

The husband also made inconsistent financial disclosures regarding a farm that he owned in Greece. In a 2009 disclosure, he listed himself as being a one-third owner of a 30-acre farm in Greece, valued at $20,000, and claimed that it was nonmarital. In his 2010 financial disclosure, however, the farm was missing. Then, in the final financial disclosure that was presented at trial, he claimed that it was a three-acre farm, that he had a 50 percent ownership of it, and that it was marital property worth $21,875.

 

Court Notes Credibility Issues, Sides With Wife

 

Noting the inconsistent disclosures, the family court in the case sided with the wife on both the issue of the marital debt, as well as the farm. In fact, the court completely sided with the wife’s claim that the farm was worth $1.4 million, and that it was marital property, subject to equitable distribution between both husband and wife. The debt, on the other hand, was inadequately proven by the husband – he had nothing to show that it existed except his own claim that it did, and the court found his credibility so poor at that point that it determined it needed more.

 

When the husband appealed the family court’s findings to the Court of Appeals, he was quickly shut down: The Court of Appeals granted extreme deference to the family court on credibility issues, summarily dismissing his arguments, and even upholding the family court’s generous award that the husband pay the wife’s attorney’s fees.

 

South Carolina Divorce Attorneys Can Help

 

This is just one of the countless examples of a divorce being made difficult by one side. Having a firm Greenville family law attorney on your side during these trying times can help immensely. Call the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC to represent you in this difficult time.

Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.

Your lawyer for your life.

Greenville, Spartanburg, Oconee, Anderson, Pickens, South Carolina Attorney At Law