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Seale v. Seale

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 18, 2014

JEFFREY KEEFE SEALE, SR., APPELLANT
v.
CHERIE NANEZ SEALE, APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/31/2013.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LAUDERDALE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAWRENCE PRIMEAUX. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GRANTED DIVORCE, DIVIDED MARITAL PROPERTY, AND AWARDED ALIMONY TO THE APPELLEE.

FOR APPELLANT: MARTY CRAIG ROBERTSON.

FOR APPELLEE: ROBERT D. JONES.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND CARLTON, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

Page 988

CARLTON, J.

¶1. Jeffrey Seale Sr. appeals the judgment of the Lauderdale County Chancery Court awarding alimony to Cherie Seale and distributing the couple's marital property. On appeal, Jeffrey raises the following issues: (1) whether the chancellor erred in his classification of certain debts;

Page 989

(2) whether the chancellor erred in his distribution of the couple's marital property; and (3) whether the chancellor erred bye awarding permanent alimony to Cherie. Upon review, we find no abuse of discretion by the chancellor and therefore affirm.

FACTS

¶2. After seventeen years of marriage, Jeffrey and Cherie obtained a final judgment of divorce. The parties had two children during the course of their marriage, both of whom were minors at the time of the divorce. At the start of the parties' marriage, Jeffrey worked as a stockbroker, and Cherie worked as an office administrator for a securities firm. Jeffrey later attended and graduated from medical school, completed a residency program, and began working as a physician in Meridian, Mississippi. Although Cherie continued to work while Jeffrey attended medical school, she opted to stay at home and raise the couple's children after the family moved to Meridian.

¶3. In the proceedings below, the chancellor granted Cherie a divorce on the ground of adultery and awarded her custody of the parties' children. After conducting an analysis of the Ferguson [1] factors, the chancellor divided the couple's marital property as follows: (1) Cherie received $77,107 in marital assets and $38,334 in marital debt; and (2) Jeffrey received $31,513 in marital assets and $292,127.12 in marital debt.

¶4. Based on the parties' respective incomes and the amount of their debt in comparison with their total assets, the chancellor found that the division of the marital estate left Cherie with a " definite deficit." The chancellor therefore conducted an analysis of the Armstrong [2] factors to determine whether an award of alimony was appropriate. He concluded that Cherie " should have rehabilitative periodic alimony during a transition period . . . and . . . permanent periodic alimony in a nominal amount." Based on his findings, the chancellor ordered Jeffrey to pay Cherie $1,500 in " rehabilitative periodic alimony" for forty-eight months. The chancellor also ordered Jeffrey to pay Cherie $100 in nominal permanent alimony until Cherie's remarriage or either party's death. Aggrieved by the chancellor's rulings on the issues of distribution of the marital property and permanent alimony, Jeffrey appeals to this Court.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶5. " This Court's standard of review in domestic[-]relations matters is extremely limited." Phillips v. Phillips, 45 So.3d 684, 692 (¶ 23) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010). On appeal, we " will not disturb a chancellor's award of alimony and division of marital assets unless the [chancellor] was manifestly wrong, abused [his] discretion[,] or applied an erroneous legal standard." Watson v. Watson, 882 So.2d 95, 98 (¶ 14) (Miss. 2004) (citing Sandlin v. Sandlin, 699 So.2d 1198, 1203 (Miss. 1997)). Furthermore, though we only interfere with a chancellor's findings of fact where the chancellor applied an erroneous legal standard or his factual findings were manifestly wrong or ...


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