PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.
THE STATE OF
In The Court of Appeals
South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent,
Deborah Padgett and John Doe, Defendants,
Of whom Deborah Padgett is Appellant.
In the interest of: Michael Padgett, DOB 03/14/90, A child under the age of 18.
C. David Sawyer, Jr., Family Court Judge
Dale Moore Gable, Family Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2006-UP-312
Submitted June 1, 2006 – Filed July 13, 2006
Allen W. Johnson, of
Augusta, Georgia, for Appellant.
Dennis M. Gmerek, of Aiken, for Respondent.
Ziva Peleg Bruckner, of
Columbia, for Guardian Ad Litem.
PER CURIAM: In this appeal from a permanency planning order and from an order denying a motion filed ten months after the merits removal hearing, Deborah Padgett (Mother) seeks to challenge the initial merits order which found she had physically abused and neglected her fourteen year-old-son, Michael. Because we find that the Rule 59(e) motion was untimely and that Mother cannot appeal from the merits removal order by appealing from the subsequent permanency planning order, we affirm.
The merits hearing was held on
Mother appeals from the family court’s permanency planning order of October 4, 2005, and the order denying the Rule 59 (e) motion on November 14, 2005.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
When considering an appeal from the family court, appellate courts have the authority to find the facts in accordance with their view of the preponderance of the evidence. Ex parte Morris, 367 S.C. 56, 61, 624 S.E.2d 649, 652 (2006). However, appellate courts defer to the family court judge’s determinations of witnesses’ credibility because the family court judge had the opportunity to see and hear the witnesses testify. Scott v. Scott, 354 S.C. 118, 124, 579 S.E.2d 620, 623 (2003).
In her notice of appeal, Mother appeals from the October 4, 2005 family court order. We find this appeal untimely.
Rule 203(b)(3) of the South Carolina Rules of Appellate Practice (2006) governs appeals from the family courts and states: “A notice of appeal in a domestic relations action shall be served in the same manner provided by Rule 203(b)(1).” That section provides, “A notice of appeal shall be served on all respondents within thirty (30) days after receipt of written notice of entry of the order or judgment.” Rule 203(b)(1), SCACR.
In this matter, Mother did not file an appeal of the October 4, 2005 order until November 30, 2005, forty-eight days after the Rule 203(b)(1) requirement. Therefore, the appeal of that order is untimely.
In her notice of appeal, Mother also appeals from the November 14, 2005 family court order denying her Rule 59(e) motion of the November 17, 2004 removal order. In the Rule 59(e) motion dated September 15, 2005, Mother raised, for the first time, issues regarding service of process of the complaint and her lack of representation at the merits removal hearing. We find her Rule 59(e) motion was not timely filed with the family court.
Rule 59(e) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[a] motion to alter or amend the judgment shall be served not later than 10 days after receipt of written notice of the entry of the order.” This motion was filed some ten months after the order was entered on November 17, 2004, and provided to her the following day. Therefore, the family court correctly denied the motion. See also Ness v. Eckerd Corp., 350 S.C. 399, 563 S.E.2d 193 (Ct. App. 2002) (holding courts retain jurisdiction to alter judgments for ten days if a motion to alter or amend a judgment is filed; however, after ten days that jurisdiction is lost).
Moreover, Mother includes in her statement of issues on appeal arguments relating to service of process and her lack of appointed counsel at the merits hearing. However, the first argument in the brief is captioned: “Everyone is entitled to due process and ‘the resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.’ Thomas Jefferson.” This section does not address either issue set out in the statement of issues on appeal. It appears to be nothing but a recitation of the facts of the case. Moreover, Mother failed to provide arguments or supporting authority for this assertion. Thus, the issue is deemed abandoned on appeal. See e.g., First Sav. Bank v. McLean, 314 S.C. 361, 363, 444 S.E.2d 513, 514 (1994) (noting where a party fails to cite authority or where the argument is simply a conclusory statement, the party is deemed to have abandoned the issue).
The second argument in the brief combines the service of process issue and the representation issue into one argument. Mother contends she was not properly served with the summons and complaint for the removal hearing, and that she was not represented at the removal hearing as required by section 20-7-110(B) of the South Carolina Code (2004). We hold Mother waived those arguments.
A party waives improper service as a defense by failing to raise the issue in his answer. Rule 12(h), SCRCP; Garner v. Houck, 312 S.C. 481, 487, 435 S.E.2d 847, 850 (1993). Here, Mother’s answer, filed on November 30, 2004, was silent on the issue of service of process and her lack of representation at the merits hearing. It was not until her untimely Rule 59(e) motion, filed on September 15, 2005, that Mother formally raised this issue. Mother simply cannot fail to raise an issue in a responsive pleading filed with the family court, and then seek to raise those issues via a Rule 59(e) motion filed ten months after issuance of the merits order.
Additionally, Mother’s attorney did not raise the issue of her lack of representation until her untimely Rule 59(e) motion. While we are mindful that Mother’s attorney was not appointed to represent her until after the merits hearing had concluded, counsel’s failure to raise this issue in a timely fashion bars mother from arguing this issue on appeal. See Clark v.
For the reasons stated above, the orders of the family court are
HEARN, C.J., and KITTREDGE and WILLIAMS, JJ., concur.
 This motion was captioned “motion for rehearing” by Mother’s counsel. Both the family court and
 We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.
 It should be noted that in the