[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/27/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MITCHELL M. LUNDY JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: FOUND APPELLANT IN CONTEMPT, DECLINED TO FIND APPELLEE IN CONTEMPT, MODIFIED CHILD SUPPORT, AND MODIFIED LEGAL CUSTODY.
FOR APPELLANT: JERRY WESLEY HISAW, H.R. GARNER.
FOR APPELLEE: LEIGH A. RUTHERFORD.
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
[¶1] Clayton Hickey appeals the Desoto County Chancery Court's judgment finding him in contempt for his failure to pay his ex-wife, Melissa Crenshaw Hickey, child support for their six-year-old son and their two-year-old daughter. Clayton claims that the chancellor erred because he was only obligated to pay for one-half of his children's undefined needs, and he had disagreed that the children needed to be in daycare. Clayton also claims that the chancellor should have found Melissa in contempt because she had not fulfilled her obligation to file a joint tax return for 2011. Additionally, Clayton claims that the chancellor erred by modifying his child-support obligation, and awarding Melissa sole legal custody of the children.
[¶2] After careful consideration, we find that the chancellor erred by awarding Melissa sole legal custody of the children when there was no evidence that the children had been adversely affected by the joint-legal-custody arrangement that Clayton and Melissa had agreed to when they divorced. However, we find no merit to Clayton's other claims on appeal. Accordingly, we affirm the chancellor's judgment in part and reverse and render in part.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[¶3] Clayton and Melissa were married on July 17, 2004, and divorced on January 9, 2012. They have two children. When Clayton and Melissa divorced, they entered into a property-settlement agreement. The agreement provided that Melissa would have primary physical custody of the children, but she and Clayton would share joint legal custody of them. The agreement also provided Clayton visitation with the children. According to the agreement, Clayton's visitation included " flexible" periods during weekdays " from time to time." Clayton also received weekend visitation during the first and third weekends of each month. Clayton and Melissa were to split visitation of the children equally during holidays " according to [Clayton's and Melissa's] work schedules." The agreement also addressed Clayton's summer visitation with the children, and visitation on specific holidays and events.
[¶4] As for child support, the agreement provided:
Due to the great disparity in incomes and current financial situations of the parties, the parties hereby request that there be no child support ordered at this
time from [Clayton]; However, should his income ever become equal to that of [Melissa,] then the parties agree that child support should be paid by [Clayton] as per Mississippi [s]tate guidelines.
The agreement went on to state that " [u]ntil such time, the parties agree to split any and all needs of the minor children 50/50." Additionally, the agreement stated that Clayton and Melissa would file joint tax returns for 2011, but Melissa would claim both children as dependents for income-tax ...