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FRANK COVINGTON v. ANNA COVINGTON

OCTOBER 31, 1984

FRANK COVINGTON
v.
ANNA COVINGTON



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, PRATHER AND SULLIVAN

SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

These parties were divorced on January 4, 1982, and the judgment of divorce provided, among other things, that appellant would pay unto the appellee lump-sum alimony in the amount of $50,000, which was to be paid in yearly installments of $10,000 per year, the payments being due on June 1, 1982, June 1, 1983, etc. Appellant was also ordered to contribute $8,000 to appellee's attorney's fees, plus $500 for expenses, these fees and expenses to be paid by March 4, 1982.

On June 21, 1982, appellee was granted a judgment for $10,380, on the first lump-sum alimony payment, which

 appellant failed to pay by June 1st. This judgment included $350 attorney's fees and court costs. On June 7, 1983, when appellant failed to pay the second installment of the lump-sum alimony, he was again adjudged to be in contempt and appellee was awarded a judgment of $10,465, which included attorney's fees and costs of court.

 The original judgment of divorce was appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court and was there affirmed and petition for rehearing was denied. Covington v. Covington, 440 So. 2d 544 (Miss. 1983).

 On August 5, 1983, yet a third motion to find the defendant in contempt was filed in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, requesting that the appellant be incarcerated in the Hinds County jail until he had purged himself of the contempt of court by paying unto the appellee the sum of $29,345 for the outstanding indebtedness owed on the lump-sum alimony, plus interest from the date of the judgments, less the sums already paid by the defendant.

 Appellee's attorney sent notice of this motion to the appellant, Dr. Frank L. Covington, Jr., Biloxi, Mississippi, and his attorney, Honorable David P. Oliver at 1922 22nd Street, Gulfport, Mississippi. Both Appellant Covington and Attorney Oliver received this notice.

 Five days after the filing of the motion, appellant's attorney filed a special appearance for dismissal, in which he alleged that his proper address was 1922 23rd Avenue, and, as process was not served by a Harrison County deputy sheriff on the respondent, that the proceedings should be quashed. Appellant further moved in his special appearance for dismissal for a judgment on the pleadings under Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure 12-C.

 On the 29th day of August, the motion came on to be heard and Chancellor Paul G. Alexander denied the motion for dismissal on special appearance and proceeded to hear the contempt.

 At the commencement of the contempt hearing, appellee's counsel offered to stipulate that appellant had paid $5,000 on the arrearage and was now in arrears in a total of $24,345, to which appellant's counsel responded that he could not argue with that. Thereupon, appellee rested. Appellant offered no proof and the chancellor found Frank L. Covington, Jr. to be in arrears in his lump-sum alimony

 payment in the amount of $24,345. He further assessed to appellant the sum of $250 toward attorney's fees for this hearing and all costs of court, for a total arrearage of $24,595. The chancellor then ordered appellant incarcerated in the custody of the sheriff of Hinds County, Mississippi, until such time as he shall have purged himself of said contempt by the payment of $24,595 into the registry of the court.

 The issue presented by this appeal is: Must the defendant in a contempt proceeding be served with process to confer personal jurisdiction on the chancery court when the court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant at the time of the divorce, or is actual notice by letter under motion practice of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure sufficient?

 The answer is that when the chancery court had personal jurisdiction of the defendant at the time of the divorce that personal jurisdiction continues and notice to the defendant by mail is sufficient and actual ...


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