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Belding v. Belding

March 23, 1999

DEAN BELDING APPELLANT
v.
SHARON BELDING APPELLEE



Before Thomas, P.j., Diaz, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 1/17/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JASON H. FLOYD, JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DIVORCE AWARDED TO MRS. BELDING; CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILD AWARDED TO MRS. BELDING, APPELLEE.

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 03/23/99

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

CERTIORARI FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

¶1. The Harrison County Chancery Court granted a divorce to Sharon Belding on the ground of her husband Dean's adultery. In addition to the award of custody of their minor son to Mrs. Belding, Mr. Belding claims that the chancellor erred in (1) ordering him to pay $300 per month in child support; (2) awarding the marital domicile to Mrs. Belding and requiring him to pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and expenses associated with the home; (3) denying him an award of attorney's fees and assessing all court costs against him; (4) denying his motion for a new trial; (5) refusing to order the psychological summary of Dr. Virginia DeRoma released to him; (6) finding that his adulterous behavior precipitated the breakup of the marriage; and (7) failing to award him sole possession of real property located in the state of Georgia. We find that these issues do not merit reversal and affirm.

FACTS

¶2. Dean and Sharon Belding were married in Winder, Georgia in 1988. Three years later, while residing in Hawaii, they adopted their son Robert Benjamin Belding, who was born in Romania on May 18, 1991. Mr. Belding was a member of the United States Navy. From March 1993 to August 1994 the couple was separated while Mrs. Belding was in West Virginia receiving medical treatment and Mr. Belding was stationed in Hawaii. During that time their son was with the maternal grandmother. Mrs. Belding returned to Hawaii and in 1995 the entire family moved to Long Beach, Mississippi as a result of Dean's naval transfer.

¶3. The Beldings separated on May 16, 1996. There was evidence presented that at some stage after arriving in Mississippi, Mr. Belding admitted to his wife that he had two adulterous relationships in Hawaii while his wife was gone. On May 24, 1996, Mrs. Belding filed for a divorce on the ground of adultery. During the pendency of the action, the court awarded joint custody of Robert to both Mr. and Mrs. Belding. Mr. Belding was ordered to pay $200 per month as temporary support. All parties were ordered to submit to psychological evaluations.

¶4. A trial was held on November 8 and 12-13, 1996. The court entered judgment on January 17, 1997, awarding a divorce to Mrs. Belding on the ground of adultery, awarding primary custody of Robert to Mrs. Belding, and ordering Mr. Belding to pay $300 per month in child support. Mrs. Belding was also awarded the exclusive use, possession and enjoyment of the marital home. Mr. Belding was ordered to pay the mortgage, property taxes, and insurance associated with the home. Mr. and Mrs. Belding were each awarded a one-half interest in their home in Georgia; however, Mrs. Belding was to be responsible for the mortgage, property taxes, and insurance. She was also entitled to any rental income from the property. Mr. Belding's subsequent motions for reconsideration, a new trial, and his request for Dr. DeRoma's psychological summary report were all denied.

DISCUSSION

¶5. This Court does not reevaluate the evidence, retest the credibility of witnesses, nor otherwise act as a second fact-finder. Unless the chancellor was manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or applied an erroneous legal standard, we will affirm. Wright v. Stanley, 700 So.2d 274, 280 (Miss.1997). If there is substantial evidence in the record to support fact-findings, no matter what contrary evidence there may also be, we will uphold the chancellor. Smith v. Jones, 654 So.2d 480, 485 (Miss.1995).

I. Child custody

¶6. In child custody cases, the best interest of the child must be kept paramount. Sellers v. Sellers, 638 So.2d 481, 485 (Miss.1994). In determining what that interest requires, several factors are considered. They are:

(1) age, health and sex of the child;

(2) a determination of the parent that has had the continuity of care prior to the separation;

(3) which has the best parenting skills and which has the willingness and capacity to ...


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