Before Pittman, P.j., Roberts And Smith, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pittman, Presiding Justice,
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/17/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. J. N. RANDALL, JR.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - CUSTODY
DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND RENDERED - 12/17/98
¶1. John M. Lovell, ("John") a U.S. citizen and Mercedes Garcia Lovell Ortega, ("Mercedes") a Spanish national citizen, were married in Charleston, South Carolina on June 12, 1975. The couple separated October 25, 1985, in Spain. The couple had one child, Kristina Mercedes Lovell, ("Kristina") who was born September 9, 1983.
¶2. John filed for a divorce in the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi in May of 1987. By order of the court, the couple was granted a divorce on July 20, 1987. The Judgment of Divorce granted joint custody of Kristina to John and Mercedes, but granted physical custody to Mercedes. The Judgment further ordered John to pay $200 per month in child support.
¶3. In March of 1989, John filed a Motion for Citation for Contempt against Mercedes complaining of her failure to grant his visitation rights. As a result of that Motion, the Chancery Court of Harrison County issued an order stating that it had jurisdiction of the parties. The chancellor further found Mercedes to be in willful and contumacious contempt of court for failing to provide John his specified visitation as set out in the original divorce decree. The chancellor further ordered that Kristina's custody was to be transferred from Mercedes to John for a period of nine (9) months commensurate with the 1989-1990 school year "to make up for lost times." At the end of nine (9) months Kristina was to be transferred back to her mother, and John's visitation reverted to summer months. Mercedes, however, did not comply with the court's order in that Kristina was never sent to live with John in Biloxi.
¶4. The case now before the Court arises from a motion filed by John in the Harrison County Chancery Court on July 5, 1994, seeking to cite Mercedes for contempt of court and requesting that he be granted full custody of Kristina. Mercedes, through her attorney, filed a special appearance to contest jurisdiction of the Harrison County Chancery Court pursuant to the provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act ("UCCJA").
¶5. The chancellor overruled Mercedes' objection to jurisdiction and proceeded with a hearing on John's motion on September 26, 1996. By order dated June 8, 1989, the court granted physical custody of Kristina to John.
¶6. Feeling aggrieved by this decision, Mercedes perfected an appeal to this Court raising the following issues:
I. THE COURT WAS MANIFESTLY IN ERROR WHEN IT OVERRULED THE APPELLANT'S OBJECTION TO JURISDICTION UNDER THE UNIFORM ...