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Sullivan v. Sullivan

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 21, 2017

JANICE LODEN SULLIVAN APPELLANT
v.
JAMES WAYNE SULLIVAN APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/31/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. JACQUELINE ESTES MASK, JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL LEE DULANEY

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JASON D. HERRING MICHAEL SPENCER CHAPMAN

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. In this appeal, the primary issue is whether the chancellor failed to make specific findings of facts and conclusions of law as required by Ferguson.[1] Because the chancellor failed to do so, we reverse and remand.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Janice Loden Sullivan filed a complaint for divorce on March 8, 2014, in the Lee County Chancery Court against her husband, James Wayne Sullivan. Ultimately, the parties consented to an irreconcilable-differences divorce and submitted the issues of equitable distribution, alimony, and attorney's fees to the chancellor. The chancellor executed a judgment of divorce on August 31, 2015, which was filed with the chancery clerk on September 3, 2015. The chancellor granted the divorce and divided the marital assets. The chancellor also awarded Janice $1, 360 per month from Wayne's retirement account "for up to twelve years effective September 1, 2015."

         ¶3. Janice now appeals, raising several issues which we have condensed as follows: (1) the chancellor did not make specific findings pursuant to Ferguson, and (2) the chancellor failed to make specific findings regarding the alimony award.

         FACTS

         ¶4. Janice and Wayne were married in 1998 and separated in 2014. At the time of the parties' marriage, Wayne was a dean at Itawamba Community College, earning approximately $80, 000 per year. By the time he retired in 2010, his salary was approximately $150, 000 per year. Wayne drew $8, 208.22 per month in state retirement. After retirement, Wayne continued to do contract work, earning approximately $6, 900 per month. During trial, which was held in July 2015, Wayne testified that he anticipated retiring from his contract position in June 2016 and that the retirement account associated with this position totaled $67, 767.

         ¶5. Janice was a registered nurse but quit working in 2012 due to health issues. Janice received $1, 333 per month from a trust established by her deceased mother. There was testimony that Janice's father had regularly been giving Janice as much as $29, 000 a year, sometimes in monthly installments.

         ¶6. The couple bought their current marital home, located in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 2010, for $166, 000. They purchased the home outright using $130, 000 from Janice's father and the remainder from Wayne. The home was appraised at $220, ...


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