Before McMILLIN, P.j., Herring, And King, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herring, J., For The Court:
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/26/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. CHARLES D. THOMAS
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: APPELLANT FOUND IN CONTEMPT OF COURT FOR FAILING TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT.
¶1. Jerry Glass appeals to this Court from an Order of the Chancery Court of Lee County, Mississippi, which was rendered against him on July 26, 1997, in the amount of $7,307.50, plus attorney's fees and costs. The judgment rendered against him, finding him in contempt of court, was the result of his failure to make the child support payments required by the court's directives. We affirm.
¶2. Jerry and Marie Glass obtained a divorce on July 20, 1976. During their marriage they had two children, Yolanda Glass, born April 19, 1971, and Lamond Glass, born October 25, 1974. Pursuant to the divorce decree dated July 20, 1976, the children were placed in the custody of Marie Glass, and Jerry Glass was ordered to pay child support in the amount of $30 per week, which commenced on July 23, 1976.
¶3. Subsequently, on August 1, 1980, Jerry Glass was found in contempt of court for failure to pay child support. Thereafter, on April 16, 1991, the Chancery Court of Lee County, Mississippi, entered an order redirecting the child support payments to the Department of Human Services (DHS). In November of 1991, Aircap Industries, the employer of Mr. Glass, began withholding child support payments and forwarding them to DHS pursuant to a withholding order entered by the Chancery Court of Lee County.
¶4. On January 16, 1996, Jerry Glass filed a motion for modification of the decree requiring him to make child support payments. In his motion, Mr. Glass requested that the court remove his obligation to make child support payments, due to the fact that both of his children had reached the age of majority. In her answer, Marie Glass alleged that not only was Jerry Glass not entitled to relief from making the child support payments, but he also was in contempt of court for failing to make past child support payments in the amount of $13, 541.75. *fn1 Mrs. Glass arrived at this figure based on a sworn schedule or accounting which she prepared with the assistance of DHS and which purported to show an arrearage in her former husband's child support payments from July, 1976, through October, 1991. The arrearage for the period from July, 1976, through October, 1991, as shown in the accounting prepared by Mrs. Glass, came to $13,850. In addition to the accounting prepared by Mrs. Glass, an affidavit of accounting was prepared by Tiffany Andrews of DHS which purported to show the arrearage in child support payments by Mr. Glass from November, 1991 to March, 1996. This accounting was combined with the accounting prepared by Mrs. Glass for the previous period, and the total arrearage in child support payments was reflected as $13,541.75. The reason for the reduction in the total amount once the affidavits were combined was the emancipation of the children during the period covered in the second accounting. Mr. Glass continued to make child support payments after the children reached majority, and the amount paid by Mr. Glass was applied to the arrearage, thereby reducing the total amount in arrears.
¶5. An updated affidavit of accounting prepared by DHS was presented at trial that reflected the additional time period from March 1996 to June of 1997. The updated affidavit stated the sum of the arrearage to be $10,732.50, as opposed to the previous figure of $13,541.75. *fn2 According to the record, DHS arrived at $10,732.50 by assuming that the original accounting prepared by Mrs. Glass (which reflected child support payments from July, 1976, through October, 1991) was accurate. DHS then applied its own calculations from that point forward.
¶6. Mrs. Glass testified that the sole basis of her accounting was a "piece of paper" on which she wrote down the payments by Mr. Glass over the years. She presented her notes in this regard at trial, which showed nine payments made by Mr. Glass from November 2, 1989, to November 25, 1992. She first testified that the notes she presented at trial were the only notes she had concerning the child support payments because her house had burned. However, on cross-examination she conceded that her house burned when she and Mr. Glass were still living together and that the fire had nothing to do with the loss of her notes. She testified that she could not recall whether he made the payments as shown in her notes by check or by cash, although he usually paid by check.
¶7. Jerry Glass presented a number of canceled checks at trial which indicated child support payments made by him to Marie Glass for which she had not given him credit. The amount of the uncredited checks totaled $710. Mrs. Glass later admitted during the course of her testimony that the payments by check in the amount of $710 had in fact been made. Mr. Glass also testified that he made his child support payments in cash about fifty percent of the time and by check fifty percent of the time. The parties stipulated that "if called, a Bank of Mississippi representative would testify that from 1989 back they could not pull microfilm checks; therefore, [at trial Mr. Glass had] microfilm checks from 1990 only." The parties chose not to obtain microfilm checks for the years following 1990 because by 1991, the trial court had directed that all child support payments should be paid to DHS, which kept accurate records of the payments.
¶8. Following the trial of this case, Chancellor Charles D. Thomas gave Mr. Glass a credit on his child support arrearage in the sum of $2,715, which represented the total of the amount that Mr. Glass paid in child support for Yolanda Glass after she reached the age of majority on April 19, 1992. He also gave Mr. Glass credit for the uncredited checks totaling $710, and subtracted all of these credits from the $10,732.50 arrearage claimed by DHS. The Chancellor then entered judgment for Mrs. Glass against Mr. Glass in the sum of $7,307.50. Jerry Glass now appeals to this Court.
¶9. The appellant raises the following issues on appeal which are taken verbatim from his brief:
I. WHETHER THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN BASING ITS JUDGMENT ON SPECULATIVE EVIDENCE.
II. WHETHER MARIE GLASS'S CLAIM IS BARRED BY THE STATUTE ...