ANTHONY J. NEWSON, APPELLANT
LORI L. NEWSON, APPELLEE
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LAMAR COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/23/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHNNY LEE WILLIAMS. TRIAL COURT GRANTED DIVORCE ON THE GROUND OF ADULTERY.
FOR APPELLANT: ALETHEA MICHELLE SHAW-MILTON.
FOR APPELLEE: VICKI R. LEGGETT.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS, CARLTON AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, MAXWELL AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. GRIFFIS, P.J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION, JOINED BY ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
¶1. Anthony Newson appeals an order by the Lamar County Chancery Court disposing of the parties' assets and liabilities. Anthony raises several issues on appeal, including whether the chancellor erred by awarding attorney's fees to Lori Newson. We find the order upon which Anthony bases his appeal to be interlocutory, however, since the order fails to constitute a final judgment, reflecting final adjudication of all claims before the chancery court, and the judgment was not certified as a " final judgment" pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Therefore, we must dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. We remand the matter to the Lamar County Chancery Court for determination of the issues still pending below.
¶2. Anthony and Lori were married on June 8, 1984, and separated on August 20, 2008. On May 19, 2011, the chancellor entered a judgment of divorce, granting Lori a divorce on the ground of adultery. Because Anthony's attorney had notified the chancellor on the day of trial that Anthony had filed for bankruptcy, the chancellor reserved ruling on all issues relating to spousal support and alimony, as well as issues pertaining to division of any marital assets and liabilities, until he had received further information from the bankruptcy court.
¶3. In an order entered March 21, 2012, the chancellor stated that the bankruptcy trustee had informed him of the dismissal of the bankruptcy proceedings. In another order entered August 6, 2012, the chancellor noted that the parties had reached an agreement to partially distribute their assets and liabilities. The chancellor stated that any remaining issues as to " the responsibility of the indebtedness of the respective parties, spousal support/alimony, attorney's fees[,] and/or costs owed by the parties" would be reserved until the final hearing.
¶4. On October 23, 2012, the chancellor entered a " final" order disposing of the parties' assets and liabilities. The chancellor found that Anthony had not made a single payment toward his spousal-support obligation and that the only money Lori had received was $5,903.01 garnished from Anthony's wages and $4,428 from the bankruptcy trustee following the dismissal of Anthony's bankruptcy proceeding. Therefore, the chancellor found that Anthony still owed $64,668.99 in spousal support and that he was in contempt of court for his failure to pay. The chancellor also awarded Lori $1,200 a month in periodic alimony. Finally, the chancellor stated
that the record would remain open to allow Lori's attorney to present an itemized statement of attorney's fees and that he would then determine whether the fees would be awarded under the factors set forth in McKee v. McKee, 418 So.2d 764, 767 (Miss. 1982).
¶5. On January 10, 2013, the chancellor entered an order in response to Anthony's motion to reconsider and set aside the order disposing of the parties' assets and liabilities. The chancellor found that Anthony's motion did not " set forth any specific issue upon which the [c]ourt allegedly erred nor any other grounds as a basis of said Motion and[,] accordingly, said Motion for Reconsideration and to Set Aside Judgment is not well taken and is hereby denied." Anthony now appeals the chancellor's order and raises several issues. ...