Before Bridges, C.j., Coleman, And Irving, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bridges, C.j.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/30/1996
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM L. GRIFFIN JR. COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: WASHINGTON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DIVORCE GRANTED. CHANCELLOR AWARDED 100% OF HOME AND OTHER MARITAL ASSETS TO WIFE.
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 04/06/1999
¶1. After thirty years of marriage, Joyce and Joseph (Joe) Parsons were granted a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences. The only issue presented to the chancellor for decision was the division of marital assets. Aggrieved by the chancellor's ruling that the house located at 528 Mayer Street in Greenville was a non-marital asset, Joe appeals. Finding no merit to the issue raised, we affirm.
¶2. Joyce and Joe Parsons were married on July 20, 1966. Joyce was 38 years old and Joe was 39. Each had children from a previous marriage. At the time of the marriage, Joe lived in a sales trailer belonging to his employer. Joyce brought into the marriage a house located at 1733 Dahlia Drive in Greenville of which she was the sole owner. The Dahlia Drive house remained in Joyce's name after the marriage and served as the marital home for several years.
¶3. Upon Joe's acceptance of a job with Blue Bell Wrangler in Wichita, Kansas, the Dahlia Drive house was sold and the sales proceeds (approximately $40,000) were applied to a house in Wichita, which was jointly owned by Joyce and Joe. While in Wichita, Joyce worked as a licensed practical nurse in a hospital.
¶4. Three years later Joe was transferred by Blue Bell to Nashville, Tennessee. The sales proceeds from the Wichita house were applied to the purchase price of a Nashville house. Again, Joyce and Joe were joint owners. In Nashville, Joyce held various jobs including working for two newspaper offices, for International Services at Peabody College, and as office manager for a podiatrist.
¶5. In February 1980, Joe was transferred with Blue Bell to Greenville, and Joyce and Joe jointly purchased a house at 253 Clover Circle. Joyce worked full-time as an office manager for Delta Bus Lines, Inc. Joe worked with Blue Bell for approximately a year in Greenville before accepting an early retirement package. After paying the necessary taxes and taking a vacation, Joe's retirement fund dwindled from $116,000 to $40,749.49, which funds were placed into a joint account with Dean Witter Reynolds for investment purposes.
¶6. The record shows that after retirement Joe owned and operated a gas station for about a year and held various jobs. Joyce continued to work full time for Delta Bus Lines, Inc.
¶7. Joyce testified that in December 1989, the parties separated and agreed to divide their marital assets. Joe executed a quitclaim deed giving Joyce exclusive ownership of the Clover Circle house in exchange for which he withdrew all monies from the Dean Witter Reynolds account and all but $380 from the joint checking account at Magnolia Federal Bank. Joe also assigned the title to a 1984 Oldsmobile to Joyce. He retained ownership of a 1988 Oldsmobile. Joe left for Biloxi. Joyce remained in Greenville.
¶8. With the funds from the Dean Witter account, Joe formed Magnolia Motors, a used car dealership, and purchased a certificate of deposit in the amount of $31,000 from Deposit Guaranty National Bank. While in Biloxi, he lived with his daughter.
¶9. According to Joe's testimony, he was going to Biloxi because the economic situation in Greenville was bad and he had to move to provide adequately for his family. He executed the quitclaim deed to enable Joyce to sell the house expeditiously without the necessity of him returning from Biloxi to sign any closing papers. The money withdrawn from the Dean Witter account, according to Joe, was to provide the financial backing to get into the used car business. Joe further testified that all bank accounts were opened in Biloxi in Joe and Joyce's names. However, the chancellor found that the accounts were opened in Joe and his daughter's names, not Joyce's name.
¶10. On July 29, 1991, Joyce sold the Clover Circle house. After paying off the mortgage, Joyce testified she received approximately $55,000 to $60,000. She purchased two $10,000 certificates of deposit with part of the sales proceeds.
¶11. Joe and Joyce attempted to reconcile in 1992 and jointly purchased a house at Lake Ferguson using a portion of the sales proceeds from the Clover Circle house. The two $10,000 certificates of deposit remained in Joyce's name and were not commingled with marital assets. The parties opened a joint checking account at the Bank of Hollandale. The mortgage payments of $313 on the Lake Ferguson house were withdrawn from the bank account monthly. The bank records show Joe deposited approximately $34,000 into the account, comprising $7,000 to open the account, two car sales and his monthly ...