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ESCO HAROLD SCHILLING v. CAROLYN RIMES SCHILLING

MARCH 07, 1984

ESCO HAROLD SCHILLING
v.
CAROLYN RIMES SCHILLING



BEFORE WALKER, P.J., HAWKINS AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

WALKER, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This is an appeal from the Chancery Court of Pike County, Mississippi, wherein the appellee (Carolyn Rimes Schilling) was granted a divorce from the appellant (Esco Harold Schilling) on the basis of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and adultery. Aggrieved with the holding of the lower court, the appellant has perfected an appeal to this Court.

Although lengthy testimony was adduced as to the grounds upon which the divorce was granted, we find it unnecessary to recite those facts as the appellant assigns no error in that regard.

 During trial it was established that Mrs. Schilling was unemployed and had no real assets of her own. She and her husband were married in 1960 when they were both nineteen years of age. She aided him in his campaign for chancery clerk and in 1967 quit her job in order to work with him as Deputy Chancery Court Clerk, a position she held for thirteen years. At the time she became aware of his extramarital affair, she was being paid $2,000.00 per month. Mr. Schilling endorsed all of Mrs. Schilling's paychecks, and, according to him, deposited them in a joint account. Virtually all of the property acquired by the couple during their twenty-one years of marriage was titled in Mr. Schilling's name. Mrs. Schilling testified her monthly expenses totalled approximately $3,222.00.

 The chancellor found Esco Schilling to have substantial holdings of stocks, real estate and mineral interests, including oil production income in excess of $3,500.00 per month and an average monthly income exclusive of oil production income of not less than $5,000.00, or a total of $8,500.00 per month. The court further found that Mr. Schilling had a net worth of not less than $750,000.00. Reasoning that Carolyn Schilling had made a very substantial contribution to the financial position of the appellant, the court awarded Mrs. Schilling lump sum alimony in the amount of $240,000.00 and monthly alimony of $1,500.00 to be reduced to $1,000.00 per month upon full payment of the lump sum award. The court also awarded Mrs. Schilling $900.00 per month as child support for the couple's three children. Mr. Schilling does not contest the findings of the court relative to his monthly income and net worth.

 Before the final decree was entered, appellant filed his motion to modify wherein he alleged the lump sum alimony

 was grossly excessive and also that he was unable to pay the amount within the period specified in the decree. The appellant asked the court to reduce the amount of the lump sum award or in the alternative to allow the lump sum award be paid in periodic payments and as a further alternative asked the court to allow him to transfer some leasehold interests or mineral or royalty interest as part payment of the lump sum settlement.

 Mr. Schilling's motion was based in part on his inability to pay the lump sum award, yet, it was established at a hearing on the motion, that since the time of the trial he had sold his van for approximately $8,000.00 and purchased a 1982 Oldsmobile 98 for $13,000.00; purchased two mineral leases in Amite County for which he paid roughly $40,000.00; and purchased 26.31 net royalty acres for $60,513.00. It was also established that he had recently received a check for $8,500.00 from production on the Olive Field Wells where he owned 3.74 royalty acres. The amount of income to be generated by the Olive Field wells was not included in the court's assessment earlier of $3,500.00 per month as income from mineral interests.

 The court finding its earlier ruling placed an undue financial burden on Mr. Schilling in view of his minimal liquidity position modified its ruling to the extent that Mr. Schilling pay the amount of $249,083.00 *fn1 as follows: on or before May 1, 1982 the sum and amount of $80,000.00; on or before September 1, 1982 the sum and amount of $85,333.00; and on or before February 1, 1983 the sum and amount of $83,750.00.

 On this appeal Mr. Schilling contends that, under the circumstances of this case, the court's award of lump sum alimony is excessive and unduly burdensome and represents an abuse of the trial court's discretion and should therefore be set aside or reduced.

 By the terms of the statute the chancery court has discretion, having regard to the circumstances of the parties to make an award for the support of the wife and children as may seem equitable, and numerous decisions of this Court relating thereto unvaryingly hold that the chancellor's decision adjudicating the award will not be set aside by this Court unless it is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Harrell v. Harrell, 231 So. 2d 793 (Miss. 1970). See also Miss. Code Annot. 93-5-23 (1972).

 In Brabham v. Brabham, 226 Miss. 165, 84 So. 2d 147 (1955) this Court set forth the following conditions to be

 considered in determining the amount of an award of alimony and child support:

 (1) the health of the husband and his earning capacity; (2) the health of the wife and her earning capacity; (3) the entire sources of income of both parties; (4) the reasonable needs of the wife; (5) the reasonable needs of the child; (6) the necessary living expenses of the husband; (7) the estimated amount of income taxes the respective parties must pay on their incomes; (8) the fact that the wife has the free use of the home, furnishings and ...


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