COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/07/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON.H.J. DAVIDSON JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: PETITION FOR CONTEMPT DENIED, CUSTODY MODIFIED, AND ALIMONY ORDERED.
FOR APPELLANT: GEORGE M. MITCHELL JR.
FOR APPELLEE: CARRIE A. JOURDAN.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. ROBERTS, J., CONCURS IN RESULT ONLY WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
[¶1] Samuel Keith McMinn, hereinafter Keith, seeks to challenge the decision of the Oktibbeha County Chancery Court in the modification of the final divorce decree against his ex-wife, Sharon McMinn. The trial court originally awarded alimony to Sharon in the amount of $1,000 per month. Keith filed a motion to reconsider, and the trial court granted the motion in part by modifying the alimony award from $1,000 to $750 per month. Keith then filed a complaint to modify the final judgment. In the modification, custody was transferred to Keith, and the trial court ordered Sharon to pay $332 per month in child support for their minor child, Caleb McMinn. Keith raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by not ordering back child support and other educational and medical support, (2) whether the trial court erred by not considering Sharon's personal net worth and neglecting to make on-the-record findings of fact and conclusions of law about the net worth of both parties, and (3) whether the trial court erred when it did not terminate the alimony award. Finding no error, we affirm.
[¶2] The original divorce trial between Keith and Sharon occurred on October 21, 2010. Keith filed a motion to reconsider; however, the trial court did not rule on it before the final judgment of divorce was filed on September 12, 2011. Sharon was awarded custody of their minor son, Caleb. In the equitable distribution of assets, Keith was awarded the marital residence and was responsible for paying the loan on the property. Keith was also ordered to pay $100,000 to Sharon, child support in the amount of $543 per month, and permanent alimony of $1,000 per month. Keith then resubmitted his motion to reconsider, and the trial court entered an order on
January 18, 2012, adjusting the amount of Sharon's alimony award from $1,000 to $750 per month. The trial court did not alter the judgment further.
[¶3] Keith then filed a complaint for modification of the final judgment. In the complaint, Keith asked for custody to be transferred to him, that Caleb's college costs be split equally between them, and for the termination of Sharon's alimony, alleging that Sharon had begun dating and was living with a man, George Rooks. On September 19, 2012, the trial for the modification took place. At trial, Sharon and Rooks admitted to having a relationship, which began in 2011; however, they both denied that Sharon received financial support from him. Sharon also admitted to staying overnight at Rooks's house, vacationing with Rooks and his family, and sharing the expenses for meals while on tri's and the occasional dinner at Rooks's house. However, Sharon kept a separate residence and paid her own bills. Keith argued that Sharon and Rooks were living together or were in a de facto marriage. Further, Keith testified that he observed Sharon's car at Rooks's home five or six times a week.
[¶4] The trial court issued an order on December 7, 2012, on the complaint for modification. In the judgment, the trial court ordered that the physical custody of Caleb be changed from Sharon to Keith. The court noted that Keith stopped paying child support when Caleb came to live with him in June 2011. Keith accrued arrearages that totaled $9,774. Because Caleb moved in with Keith, he was eligible for credit on arrearages that accrued from June 2011 to the date of the judgment, and the ongoing child support of $543 per month was terminated. Sharon was ordered to pay $332 per month in child support until Caleb reached twenty-one years of age or further order of the court. The trial court denied Keith's request to terminate alimony. The trial court admonished both parties to comply with the court's order and not to act unilaterally from that point forward. All of the other elements of the final judgment remained intact.
[¶5] Keith filed a motion entitled " motion for new trial or[,] in [the] alternative[,] [to] reopen for clarification of evidence and motion for reconsideration," on December 17, 2012. Keith argued that the relationship between Sharon and Rooks was a de facto marriage and alimony should be terminated. In the judgment dated December 26, 2012, the court denied the motion and held that a " mere re-argument of the evidence, and its application to the ultimate decision, is not a proper basis for granting of such a motion [(motion to reconsider)]."
[¶6] Keith appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
[¶7] The standard of review in domestic-relations cases is limited. Jackson v. Jackson, 114 So.3d 768, 773 (¶ 10) (Miss.Ct.App. 2013). " Consequently, an appellate court will not disturb the chancery court's findings unless such findings are manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or the court applied the wrong legal standard." Id. Also, " [w]e will not reverse the chancellor's factual findings where there is substantial evidence in the record supporting those findings of fact." Henrichs v. Henrichs, 32 So.3d 1202, 1205 (¶ 8) (Miss.Ct.App. 2009).
[¶8] Further, the chancellor has broad discretion in alimony cases. Byars v. Byars, 850 So.2d 147, 148 (¶ 3) (Miss.Ct.App. 2003). We will not reverse a chancellor's decision unless he was manifestly in error or abused his discretion. Id. " ...