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Vincent v. Rickman

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 23, 2017

DAVID H. VINCENT APPELLANT
v.
JOAN VINCENT RICKMAN APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/26/2015

         DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. VICKI B. DANIELS TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: BYRON RUSSELL MOBLEY

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: A.E. (RUSTY) HARLOW JR. KATHI CRESTMAN WILSON

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

          ISHEE, J.

         ¶1. In 1997, David Vincent and Joan Rickman were granted a divorce by the DeSoto County Chancery Court. David was ordered by the chancery court to pay child support for the couple's three children. Later on, the parties also entered into an agreement that required each party to pay one-half of their children's college expenses. Also on two separate occasions, David was ordered by the chancery court to implement an income-withholding order-to be delivered to his employer. But David, an executive in his organization, failed to see to it that the order was implemented.

         ¶2. In February 2014-after David missed a monthly child-support payment, failed to pay various college expenses, and had still not implemented the income-withholding order-Joan filed a petition with the chancery court to cite David in contempt for nonpayment and for other relief. After a trial, in which only the parties testified, the chancellor issued an order finding David in contempt and awarded Joan attorney's fees. David appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶3. In 1997, David and Joan were divorced by a judgment entered by the DeSoto County Chancery Court. At the time of the divorce, the parties had three minor children. The children were placed in Joan's custody, with David being granted certain visitation and directed to pay Joan child support.

         ¶4. At some point after the parties were divorced, Joan's child-support payments were redirected to the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS). On April 24, 2012, the chancery court entered an agreed order that modified the decree of divorce. This agreement changed David's child-support obligation as well as established an obligation on the parties, making them responsible for the payment of certain college expenses for their children.

         ¶5. The provision of the agreement that set out the obligation of the parties in respect to their children's college expenses stated:

[B]oth parties shall be responsible for one -half (Yz) of the costs of a college education for the minor children in an amount not to exceed that of the cost of a public in-state college or university plus campus room and board together with any other charges payable directly to the institution ....

         ¶6. On September 4, 2012, the chancellor cited David for contempt of court for missing required payments. The chancellor awarded Joan a judgment against David in the amount of attorney's fees incurred by her in the prosecution of the contempt action. Additionally, the chancellor directed that all future child-support payments were to be paid through the entry of an income-withholding order. That very same day, an order for income withholding was entered by the court.

         ¶7. David delivered a copy of the chancery court's withholding order to his employer and requested that the employer implement it. Yet David-the executive director at his place of employment-advised the organization's board that he did not believe he was obligated to pay and ...


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