Sullivan, P.j., Banks And Waller, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Banks, Justice
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 1/30/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DON GRIST
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MARSHALL COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
DISPOSITION REVERSED AND REMANDED - 10/8/98
¶1. This case is before the Court on appeal from a division and distribution of marital property incident to a divorce. We must determine whether the chancellor's findings of fact and Conclusions of law were sufficient to support the court's equitable distribution of the marital property. Because appellee has filed no brief and because we cannot say with confidence that there has been no error in certain aspects of the judgment of the chancellor, we reverse and remand this matter for additional proceedings.
¶2. The Appellant, Patricia Davis Selman, and the Appellee, A.W. Selman, were married on February 10, 1973. A.W. moved out of the marital home on or about February 19, 1996. On June 27, 1996, A.W. filed a Complaint of Divorce on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and irreconcilable differences. Patricia initially contested the divorce, but the parties later agreed to a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 93- 5-2 (1994). On October 28, 1996, the parties filed their Agreement and Consent to Divorce on the Grounds of Irreconcilable Differences. Pursuant to this agreement, they specifically submitted for determination by the chancellor the issues of child custody and support; alimony; the equitable division and distribution of marital property, including responsibility for the payment of the debts of the parties; attorneys' fees; and court costs. A trial was held before the chancellor on October 28, 1996.
¶3. There are three children from the marriage: Patrice, born September 17, 1970; Antonios (Tony), born August 25, 1976; and April, born March 18, 1983. April lives with her mother in the marital home. Tony, twenty years old at the time of the trial, is mentally impaired and is also living with his mother, who is his sole means of support. Patrice also moved back with her mother around July of 1996. Patrice has her own child, Brittany, who was five years old at the time of trial. Patrice works two jobs, but she and her mother both testified that she does not pay rent and that her income does not go toward helping with the household bills.
¶4. Testimony established that the marital home was acquired in June of 1979 for a purchase price of $39,995.00. A.W. testified that Patricia provided no portion of the funds necessary for the initial purchase of the home. Both parties agreed there remained an outstanding mortgage balance of $30,198.80, while the assessed value of the home was $40,720.00. Equity in the marital home at the time of the trial, therefore, was approximately $10,500.00. The monthly payment on the house is $447.58. A.W. made these mortgage payments during the marriage, and continued to pay them up until the time of the trial. Patricia testified, however, that at certain times in the past the payments had fallen behind and that she had taken out loans to catch them up. She also stated that she bought furniture and other items for the house, and that her retirement account had been drawn out completely in December of 1995, in the amount of $5000.00 to expend on the home, and that the only retirement funds she had began to accrue in February of 1996. At the time of the trial the house was in need of roof repair at an approximate cost of $500.00.
¶5. Both Patricia and A.W. worked throughout the marriage. Patricia stated that she and A.W. contributed jointly for groceries, family support, and other expenses during the marriage. Value of the couple's household furnishings was placed at approximately $5,000.00.
¶6. A.W. had worked as a restaurant manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) for nineteen years, and was earning approximately $26,000.00 per year when he quit his job to go into the church on June 3, 1996. He had no retirement program from his prior employment at KFC. He testified that at the time of the trial he was a minister earning only a gross monthly income of $700.00; after taxes he estimated his net monthly income at $650.00. He stated that he earned approximately $200.00 of this gross monthly income from substitute teaching, but that this work is "unpredictable." The remaining $500.00 of his declared monthly income is typically gathered from offerings at the church's revival services. The church pays him no official salary.
¶7. A.W. took possession of a 1985 Oldsmobile which he valued at $1,500.00. This car is debt-free but is currently not running. He also took possession of a 1992 Oldsmobile he valued at $8,500.00. He testified that there was an outstanding debt of $461.00 on this car. Patricia testified that A.W. also took the couple's 1995 income tax return check of approximately $900.00 and that she had received no portion of the money. A.W. had an outstanding balance on a personal loan of $3,000.00, for which the monthly payment is $186.00. He stated at trial that he was staying with his brother and paying rent of $250.00 per month, but that this was a temporary situation and that he would have to find another place to stay.
¶8. Patricia works as an investigator for the Holly Springs Police Department, and earns approximately $25,000.00 per year. Her gross monthly salary is $2,064.00 and her net monthly income is $1,531.31. She has a vehicle provided by the city which she drives when on duty. She also has the ability to earn additional outside income ...