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Holman v. Holman

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 4, 2017

BRIDGET WARREN HOLMAN APPELLANT
v.
DAVID SCOTT HOLMAN APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/12/2015

         DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. PERCY L. LYNCHARD JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JERRY WESLEY HISAW.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: JOHN STANNARD FARESE.

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. Bridget Warren Holman appeals the chancellor's findings regarding the distribution of marital property, the award of attorney's fees, and child support. Upon review, we affirm in part, and reverse and remand in part.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Bridget and David "Scott" Holman were married July 10, 2003. They have two minor children together, and Bridget has a minor child from a previous relationship.

         ¶3. On January 15, 2013, Bridget filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery, habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, and/or irreconcilable differences. In March 2013, Scott counterclaimed for divorce on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and/or irreconcilable differences. Both Bridget and Scott sought custody of their minor children and an equitable distribution of the marital property. An agreed temporary order was entered in August 2013; Bridget received temporary custody of the minor children, and Scott paid $2, 500 per month in child support.

         ¶4. The case lingered because Bridget changed attorneys and there were various contempt and discovery issues. The trial initially began on June 16, 2015; Bridget was represented by her fourth attorney. Late that day, Bridget testified about an incident when Scott spanked one of the children. The chancellor construed Bridget's testimony as an allegation of abuse, appointed a guardian ad litem, and rescheduled the trial.

         ¶5. The trial resumed on October 12, 2015. Before then, Bridget terminated her fourth attorney and proceeded to represent herself. At the conclusion of the trial, the chancellor dismissed Bridget's complaint for divorce on the ground of adultery, and awarded Scott a divorce on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. The chancellor awarded custody of the minor children to Bridget, divided the marital property, and ordered Bridget to pay Scott's attorney's fees for the child-abuse allegation.

         ¶6. After the trial, Bridget retained new counsel. Her counsel obtained Scott's payroll records. Then, Bridget filed a motion for reconsideration and/or a new trial. Scott filed a similar motion. The motions were denied by the chancellor. From this judgment, Bridget now appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7. In an appeal from chancery court, we apply a limited standard of review. Scott v. Scott, 115 So.3d 847, 849 (¶6) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012). "We will not disturb the chancellor's factual findings if they [are] supported by substantial evidence." McNatt v. Turbeville, 162 So.3d 881, 883 (¶9) (Miss. Ct. App. 2015). "However, we will reverse the chancellor if he abused his discretion, was manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or applied an erroneous legal standard." Id. "We review questions of law de novo." Id.

         ANALYSIS

         I.Scott's Financial ...


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