LESLIE B. SHUMAKE, JR.
KATARINA SITTON SHUMAKE
OF JUDGMENT: 10/15/2015
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. ROBERT L. LANCASTER
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: LESLIE B. SHUMAKE, JR. (PRO SE) A.
E. (RUSTY) HARLOW, JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: T. JACKSON LYONS
DICKINSON, P.J., KITCHENS AND COLEMAN, JJ.
Leslie Shumake appeals the judgment of the Chancery Court of
DeSoto County that found him in contempt for failure to pay
his alimony obligations, denied his motion to modify alimony,
and placed an equitable lien on his law practice to secure
the payment of future alimony. Mr. Shumake argues that the
chancellor erred by imposing the equitable lien, abused his
discretion by failing to grant the motion to modify alimony,
erred by rejecting his inability-to-pay defense to the
contempt action, erred in the award of attorney fees, and
erred by awarding Ms. Shumake the unpaid balance of the
arrearage on the parties' former first mortgage.
We affirm on all issues except the chancellor's award of
attorney fees for Ms. Shumake's successful contempt
action. We reverse the attorney fee award and remand for the
chancellor to subtract the fees attributable to Ms.
Shumake's defense of Mr. Shumake's modification
The parties were divorced by a final judgment entered on
February 20, 2009. Shumake v. Shumake, 156 So.3d
900, 902 (Miss. Ct. App. 2013). The chancellor ordered Mr.
Shumake to pay Ms. Shumake permanent periodic alimony in the
amount of $5, 750 per month. Id. On March 12, 2009,
Ms. Shumake filed a complaint for citation of contempt,
arguing that Mr. Shumake had failed to pay the amount of
alimony ordered. Id. Mr. Shumake answered,
counterclaimed for contempt, and filed a complaint for
modification, arguing that his bankruptcy filing was a
material change in circumstances. Id.
After several hearings and various orders, on April 12, 2012,
the chancellor ordered Mr. Shumake to pay his former wife $3,
250 per month until the completion of his Chapter 13
bankruptcy payments. Id. After completion of the
bankruptcy payments, Mr. Shumake's periodic alimony
payments would be raised to $4, 225 per month. Id.
The chancellor noted that, because the bankruptcy payments
were approximately $4, 000 per month, Mr. Shumake would have
an additional $4, 000 available to meet his alimony
obligations once his bankruptcy payments concluded. The
chancellor also found Mr. Shumake in arrears in his alimony
payments in the amount of $58, 550, and ordered him to pay an
additional $1, 500 per month, following the completion of his
bankruptcy payments, until he had fully paid the arrearage.
Mr. Shumake appealed from the order of April 12, 2012, and
this Court assigned his appeal to the Court of Appeals. The
Court of Appeals reversed and rendered the chancery
court's order for Mr. Shumake to pay the $58, 550
arrearage. Id. at 905. This Court granted Ms.
Shumake's petition for certiorari, reversed the judgment
of the Court of Appeals, and reinstated the chancery
court's order. Shumake v. Shumake, 147 So.3d
352, 356 (Miss. 2014). We held that the chancellor did not
abuse his discretion by ordering Mr. Shumake to pay the
alimony arrearage. Id.
On November 14, 2014, Ms. Shumake filed a complaint for
citation of contempt, claiming that Mr. Shumake was in
arrears in the amount of $38, 600 on his periodic alimony
payments. She also complained that, despite Mr. Shumake's
completion of his bankruptcy payments, he had not increased
his alimony payments to $4, 225 and had failed to pay the
additional $1, 500 per month toward the $58, 550 arrearage as
ordered. Further, Ms. Shumake claimed that Mr. Shumake had
not paid the current arrearage of $10, 467.49 on the
parties' first mortgage on the marital domicile as
ordered in the divorce judgment. She requested interest on
the arrearages as well as attorney fees and costs.
Mr. Shumake filed an answer and a countercomplaint for
modification of his alimony obligations. He admitted that he
had not paid the full amounts ordered by the court, but
asserted that he was not in wilful contempt because he had
been unable to pay the sums ordered. He argued that the
bankruptcy order discharged his responsibility for the amount
in arrears on the first mortgage. He argued also that his