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Archie v. Archie

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 15, 2013

Amos ARCHIE, Jr., Appellant
v.
Debbie Johnson ARCHIE, Appellee.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Frederick Anderson Johnson, Melissa Ann Malouf, William Edward Ballard, Jackson, attorneys for appellant.

M. Judith Barnett, attorney for appellee.

Before GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES and JAMES, JJ.

BARNES, J.

¶ 1. After four years of divorce proceedings, Amos and Debbie Archie were granted a divorce (" Final Judgment of Divorce and Opinion of the Court" ) on March 9, 2010. However, since the 2010 judgment required clarification and correction, the chancery court issued a " Third Amended Order and Opinion of the Court" on May 9, 2012, from which Amos now appeals. Upon review, we find that Amos was erroneously required to pay child support, college expenses, and insurance for his emancipated children, and we reverse and render the judgment on these issues. We also reverse the chancellor's award of alimony and remand for correction and clarification on the issues of the equitable distribution of marital assets and alimony in accordance with this opinion.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 2. Amos and Debbie were married on April 15, 1989. They had two children born of the marriage: Brittney Nicole Archie, born on September 26, 1987, and Amos Corey Archie III (Corey), born on February 21, 1990. The marriage suffered from domestic violence and infidelity, and Debbie filed a complaint for divorce on June 14, 2006.

¶ 3. A temporary judgment was entered on August 6, 2007, ordering Amos to pay $500 per month in child support " until further order of the court." On August 22, 2007, an agreed temporary order was filed, ordering: (1) Amos to pay $600 in monthly child support; (2) both parties to pay one-third of Brittney's college tuition and book

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costs; and (3) both parties to pay one-half the medical costs for the minor children. The temporary order also granted Debbie exclusive possession of the marital home. However, this temporary order was later rescinded.

¶ 4. After two hearings before the chancellor— one on March 7, 2008, and one on July 22, 2008— the parties consented to divorce based on irreconcilable differences. They agreed Debbie would have sole custody of Corey and that Amos and Corey would seek counseling in an effort to rehabilitate their strained relationship. The parties also agreed to submit the remaining issues (child support, alimony, attorney's fees, college expenses, and division of marital assets) to the chancery court's discretion.

¶ 5. On September 25, 2009, Debbie filed a petition for citation for contempt, claiming that Amos had failed to pay child support as ordered by the chancery court. Then, on January 25, 2010, the agreed temporary order dated August 22, 2007, was rescinded by the Honorable J. Dewayne Thomas due to lack of jurisdiction. That same day, Amos was found guilty of contempt by the chancellor originally assigned to the case, the Honorable Patricia Wise, and he was ordered to pay $5,550.

¶ 6. A final judgment of divorce (" 2010 Order" ) was entered on March 9, 2010, awarding Debbie exclusive use of the marital home and the value of the couple's Pre-Paid Legal Services stock ($25,557). Although Amos was not given any equity in the marital home, he was ordered to pay the remaining balance owed on the mortgage. Amos was, however, awarded ownership of his eleven rental properties, the value of which was unknown.[1] The judgment also required Amos: (1) to pay one-half of college expenses for Brittney; (2) to maintain health insurance for Corey; (3) to pay one-half of the medical costs for the children; and (4) to " pay [Debbie] reasonable periodic sums of child support in the amount of $180 per month."

¶ 7. Debbie filed a petition for rehearing for clarification of several issues on March 19, 2010. One concern was that the chancellor failed to provide how Debbie was to obtain the $25,557 value of the legal stock and failed to make a finding as to the current value of the stock. A hearing was held regarding these issues on September 29, 2010.

¶ 8. On October 6, 2010, the chancery court entered an " Order on Motion for Clarification," identifying scrivener errors (i.e., transposing the names of the two children) in the judgment and holding in abeyance any decision regarding the legal stock, as its value remained in dispute. The record reflects that the majority of the stock was liquidated in 2006, prior to the filing of the complaint for divorce; therefore the value of the stock in the 2010 Order was overstated. The proceeds from the sale of the stock were allegedly used for Brittney's college education. The order for clarification also acknowledged that Brittney was emancipated, that Corey was a minor, and that the intent was for Amos to pay $180 per month in child support. Finally, the order stated that while Debbie was to maintain health insurance for Corey, Amos was responsible for the amount of the premium, and both parties were to split equally any uncovered medical costs.

¶ 9. After another hearing on April 3, 2012, regarding the value of the legal stock, the chancery court entered a " Third Amended Order and Opinion of the Court" (" 2012 Order" ) on May 9, 2012. This order contained several changes in the areas of the equitable distribution of assets, as

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well as the award of child support and alimony. The 2012 Order reduced the value of the legal stock awarded to Debbie to $976.10,[2] but awarded Debbie $250 per month in periodic alimony. The 2012 Order further stated Amos was to: (1) pay $500 in child support " as set forth in the temporary order" ; (2) maintain " health and life insurance for the children" ; (3) " pay one-half (50%) of all college expenses for both children, Brittney and [Corey]" ; and ...


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