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Monroe v. Monroe

January 21, 1999

REBECCA MONROE
v.
JAMES MONROE



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Banks, Justice

ON MOTION FOR REHEARING

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/27/94

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. TIMOTHY E. ERVIN

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MONROE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED AND REMANDED IN PART

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: 12/23/97

EN BANC.

¶1. The motion for rehearing is granted. The original opinions are withdrawn and these opinions are substituted therefor.

¶2. Rebecca Monroe was awarded a divorce on grounds of desertion from James Monroe by the Monroe County Chancery Court on November 27, 1989. She appealed the chancellor's order limiting her support to an award of lump sum alimony in the amount of $12,000. In Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So. 2d 353 (Miss. 1992), this Court determined that the chancellor "committed a severe abuse of discretion" by refusing to grant any periodic alimony in conjunction with the lump sum award. Monroe I, 612 So. 2d at 358-59. Mrs. Monroe now challenges the adequacy of the periodic alimony awarded on remand. We conclude that the chancellor abused his discretion in determining the amount of periodic alimony. Further, absent some explanation by the chancellor, the award should not have been made retroactive only for twelve months and we remand the case for amendment of the judgment consistent with this opinion.

I.

¶3. In Monroe I, we found that the chancellor's decision to grant lump sum alimony, but not periodic alimony, did not adequately take into consideration Mrs. Monroe's emotional condition, the limitations placed on her earnings capacity by her mental illness, the costs of her long- term care, her contributions to the seventeen-year long marriage as well as to her husband's education and career, and ultimately, to Dr. Monroe's financial success. Reiterating concern for Mrs. Monroe's condition and the disparities between her financial situation and that of her former husband, we found that:

"The most significant factor is the disparity between Rebecca's and Jim's income as well as their earning capacity. Jim is in good health and currently earning over $90,000 a year practicing medicine. Dr. Monroe's earning capacity appears steady, with a very good possibility of increasing over time. Rebecca, on the other hand, has experienced a deterioration in her mental state over the last few years, as evidenced by her psychological and emotional treatment at Charter Hospital on two different occasions. While Rebecca's 1987 admittance to Charter was of a voluntary nature, her 1990 treatment was the result of an involuntary commitment by the Chancery Court. Rebecca is currently earning $400 a month delivering pizzas for Domino's, and her prospects of improvement in her earning capacity is around $23,000 at best, being employed as a public school teacher. Rebecca estimates her monthly living expenses at $2,305, while Dr. Monroe lists his at around $2,750. Given Dr. Monroe's significant income, he should have no problem contributing monthly support payments to Rebecca, even though he is responsible for raising their two children. Finally, there was no "marital home," but only a rental house in which Jim and the children remained following Jim's telling Rebecca "not to come home." Monroe I, 612 So. 2d at 357. Finding the chancellor in error, we remanded the case for determination of periodic alimony.

ΒΆ4. A second hearing was held on July 22, 1993, and on February 24, 1994, the chancellor announced his findings of facts and opinion in the case. By order filed April 27, 1994, the chancellor awarded Mrs. Monroe $450 per month in periodic alimony. He made the award retroactive for a period of twelve months, allowing Dr. Monroe the option of paying the $5,400 due in monthly installments ...


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