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03/24/97 HOPKINS v. HOPKINS

March 24, 1997

HOPKINS
v.
HOPKINS



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Herring, Hinkebein, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J

ANNWOOD J. HOPKINS, APPELLANT v. WILLIAM L. HOPKINS, APPELLEE

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/24/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HONORABLE WILLIAM TAYLOR

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PEARL RIVER COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: MOTION TO FREEZE ASSETS DENIED BY CHANCELLOR

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 03/24/97

Annwood Hopkins filed a motion to freeze assets held in a brokerage account with Merrill Lynch. She appeals the chancellor's denial of her motion. We find no error in the chancellor's ruling.

Discussion

William and Annwood Hopkins were granted a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences on December 8, 1994. William appealed to this Court for relief from certain portions of the divorce decree. We rendered a decision on those issues in Hopkins v. Hopkins, 96-CA-00774 COA (Miss. Ct. App. May 6, 1997). In the May decision, this Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings on the distribution of assets. The retirement accounts that are the subject of this appeal are part of the assets that were designated for further review.

Presently pending before this Court is the denial of Mrs. Hopkins's request that certain funds held by Merrill Lynch, that were the property of her husband, be required to be paid into the registry of the court to insure future payments of alimony. The crux of her argument is that Mr. Hopkins has failed to pay the alimony decreed by the chancery court in a timely manner; therefore, the court should secure future payments. In support of this proposition, she cites the supreme court decision in Morreale v. Morreale, 646 So. 2d 1264 (Miss. 1994). Morreale is similar in that Mr. Morreale repeatedly refused to pay court ordered sums to Mrs. Morreale. The distinction, though, is that in Morreale, the property at issue was real property. In this case, the property is a retirement account. As noted by the late chancellor Taylor, there are tax consequences involved with the removal of funds from retirement accounts. These tax issues would affect both former spouses.

Our standard of review in domestic relations is limited. This court will not overturn the findings of the chancery court, unless its findings were manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous. Johnson v. Johnson, 650 So. 2d 1281, 1285 (Miss. 1994). We note that while the chancery court has authority to impose a lien on property to insure future payments where equity requires it, it is not mandatory. Daigle v. Daigle, 626 So. 2d 140, 147 (Miss. 1993). ...


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