Before Sullivan, P.j., Banks And Roberts, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, Justice, For The Court.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/29/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SEBE DALE, JR.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FORREST COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
¶1. On November 3, 1995, Cliff Brown filed a petition seeking modification of a prior decree issued by the Chancery Court of Forrest County awarding his ex-wife, Lauren Brown, $400 per month in order to make "house payments" and $250 per month in child support. This award stemmed from the Browns' divorce on irreconcilable differences in 1977. In his petition, Cliff alleged that his obligation to pay the $400 per month house payment and the $250 per month child support payment had expired. Cliff and Lauren's daughter, Brittany, reached the age of majority in 1993. As a result, Cliff claimed that he should no longer be required to make any payments. However, Cliff reported the payments as alimony on his federal and state tax returns for some eighteen (18) years.
¶2. On April 30, 1998, the lower court held, as stipulated by both parties, that Brittany was emancipated and that the $250 child support payments should lawfully cease. However, the chancellor held that the $400 per month payments that Cliff had been making to Lauren as house payments, were alimony and not child support. The Chancellor ruled that the payments, as alimony, were to continue despite Brittany's majority. ¶3. Cliff comes before this Court seeking the reversal of the chancellor's decision and raising the following point of error:
I. THE CHANCERY COURT'S FINDING THAT THE $400 PER MONTH PAYMENT WAS ALIMONY AND NOT CHILD SUPPORT WAS ERRONEOUS AND SHOULD BE REVERSED.
¶4. Cliff's argument is without merit in light of his original pleadings, the judgment responding to those pleadings and by his actions in swearing to the tax authorities that he had been paying "alimony" to Lauren. The chancellor adJudged the $400 monthly payments to be alimony and not child support. This decision was supported by credible evidence and was well within the chancellor's discretion. As a result, this Court holds that the decision of the chancellor below is affirmed.
¶5. Lauren and Cliff Brown were married in March of 1969. The marriage produced one daughter, Brittany, in September of 1972. The couple separated in September of 1976.
¶6. On January 5, 1977, the Browns jointly filed a complaint for divorce, seeking dissolution of their marriage on the then-new grounds of irreconcilable differences. In their joint complaint, the Browns incorporated a signed property settlement agreement ...