Bryant M. Hartfield - Page 4

                                        - 3 -                                         
          because of illness.  Consequently, during 2003, petitioner paid             
          the full costs of supporting S.L.B., including the costs of                 
          housing, clothing, food, personal hygiene, transportation, and              
          school supplies.3                                                           
               Petitioner contends that he and Ernestine Bethel entered               
          into a common law marriage before 2003 and, consequently, that              
          S.L.B. was his stepchild during 2003.  Accordingly, petitioner              
          contends that he is entitled to a dependency exemption, head-of-            
          household filing status, and an earned income tax credit.4                  
               We first address the alleged common law marriage of                    
          Ernestine Bethel and petitioner.5  South Carolina recognizes the            
          common law marriage of two parties who contract to be married.              
          Callen v. Callen, 620 S.E.2d 59, 62 (S.C. 2005).  Such an                   
          agreement may be inferred from the facts and circumstances.  Id.            
          In Callen, the South Carolina Supreme Court stated that the “fact           
          finder is to look for mutual assent:  the intent of each party to           
          be married to the other and a mutual understanding of each                  

               3Although S.L.B. remained on the health plan of Ernestine              
          Bethel, S.L.B. does not appear to have incurred any health-                 
          related expenses during 2003.                                               
               4We decide the instant case on the record without regard to            
          the burden of proof and sec. 7491.                                          
               5Petitioner does not contend and has offered no evidence               
          that he is S.L.B.’s biological father, her adoptive father, her             
          stepfather, or her foster parent.                                           

Page:  Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  Next

Last modified: May 25, 2011