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Lee v. Lee

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 25, 2014

CHRISTOPHER DANIEL LEE, APPELLANT
v.
NIKKI G. LEE, APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/09/2013.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: ADAMS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON.E. VINCENT DAVIS. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DIVORCE GRANTED ON THE GROUND OF HABITUAL DRUNKENNESS; VISITATION SET.

FOR APPELLANT: M. DEVIN WHITT.

FOR APPELLEE: LISA JENKINS CHANDLER.

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

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

Page 905

GRIFFIS, P.J.

¶1. Christopher D. Lee appeals the judgment of divorce granted in favor of Nikki G. Lee. He argues that the chancellor erred when he found that there was sufficient evidence to grant Nikki a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness, and that Chris was required to pay for transportation costs for visitation. We find no error and affirm.

FACTS

¶2. Chris and Nikki met in 2006 and dated for two years. They were married on May 31, 2008. At the time, Nikki worked at Corr-Williams, and Chris worked offshore.

¶3. Their son, Will, was born on July 31, 2009. Chris had a child from a previous relationship. Shortly after Will's birth, Chris changed jobs and started work as a contractor for Denbury. This gave him more time at home, even though he still worked seven days on and seven days off.

¶4. On May 3, 2011, Nikki filed a complaint for divorce on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and habitual drunkenness. After the trial, the chancellor granted Nikki a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness. The chancellor awarded sole physical custody to Nikki, " reasonable" visitation to Chris, and joint legal custody to both. The chancellor also divided their property. Because of Nikki's planned relocation to Wisconsin once the divorce was final, the responsibility of paying transportation

Page 906

costs for visitation exchanges between Wisconsin and Mississippi fell to Chris. It is from this judgment that Chris now appeals.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶5. The scope of review in domestic cases is limited by the substantial evidence/manifest error rule. Jundoosing v. Jundoosing, 826 So.2d 85, 88 (¶ 10) (Miss. 2002) (citing Magee v. Magee, 661 So.2d 1117, 1122 (Miss. 1995)). This Court will not disturb a chancellor's findings unless they were manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or the chancellor applied an erroneous legal standard. Id. (citing Johnson v. Johnson, 650 So.2d 1281, 1285 (Miss. 1994)).

ANALYSIS

I. Whether the chancellor committed manifest error in the grant of a divorce to Nikki on the ground of habitual drunkenness.

¶6. Chris asserts that it was error for the chancellor to grant Nikki a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness. Chris argues that Nikki did not meet her burden in proving habitual drunkenness. Alternatively, Chris argues that Nikki's knowledge of his drinking habits prior to their marriage barred the suit.

A. Burden of Proof

¶7. On appeal, Chris argues the chancellor erred in finding sufficient grounds for divorce. " A court may grant a divorce on the ground of habitual drunkenness if the plaintiff proves that: (1) the defendant frequently abused alcohol; (2) the alcohol abuse negatively affected the marriage; and (3) the alcohol abuse continued at the time of ...


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