OF JUDGMENT: 06/17/2015
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. JAMES B.
PERSONS TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DEAN HOLLEMAN
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: EARL L. DENHAM PHILLIP LANE NORWOOD
MATTHEW PAUL PAVLOV
GRIFFIS, P.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.
Dr. Ronnie Ali, 49, and nurse practitioner Amy Ali, 27, were
married in 2003 and had a child together a few months later.
They separated after almost seven years of marriage, and Amy
filed for divorce.
Over the next several years they filed more than two hundred
pleadings, with Amy filing the lion's share. The trial
was bifurcated due to complex financial issues, especially
those relating to several "urgent care" medical
clinics owned by the couple. On March 7, 2013, Amy was
granted a divorce on habitual cruel and inhuman treatment
grounds. The remaining issues were tried over twelve days in
February and March of 2014. A year later the chancellor
entered a detailed twenty-six-page decision, dividing the
parties' property and awarding Amy custody of the minor
child, child support, and alimony.
Ronnie states in his brief that though he feels the
chancellor erred in the equitable distribution, he
"chooses" not to challenge it. Visitation, child
support, alimony, attorney's fees, and life insurance
remain at issue on appeal. We conclude that the chancellor
applied the correct legal standards and acted within his
discretion in awarding child support, alimony, and
attorney's fees. Those awards must be affirmed. We
remand, however, on the issues of visitation and insurance.
"When [an appellate court] reviews a chancellor's
decision in a case involving divorce and all related issues,
[the court's] scope of review is limited by the
substantial evidence/manifest error rule." Yelverton
v. Yelverton, 961 So.2d 19, 24 (¶6) (Miss. 2007). A
chancellor's factual findings will not be disturbed
unless manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or an erroneous
legal standard was applied. Carambat v. Carambat, 72
So.3d 505, 510-11 (¶24) (Miss. 2011). As long as
substantial evidence supports the chancellor's findings,
an appellate court is without authority to disturb them, even
if it would have found otherwise as an original matter.
Joel v. Joel, 43 So.3d 424, 429 (¶14) (Miss.
2010). Additionally, if the chancellor has made no specific
findings of fact, we generally "proceed on the
assumption that he resolved all such fact issues in favor of
the appellee." Ferrara v. Walters, 919 So.2d
876, 881 (¶8) (Miss. 2005) (citation omitted). Questions
of law, on the other hand, are reviewed de novo. Irving
v. Irving, 67 So.3d 776, 778 (¶11) (Miss. 2011).
The chancellor's final judgment contained no express
order for permanent holiday or summer visitation, though it
at times appears to presuppose they had been
awarded. On appeal, Ronnie contends this was error;
and Amy concedes that it appears to be an oversight that
should be clarified on remand to the chancery court. As this
issue is conceded, we remand to the chancery court to clarify
the visitation order.
Ronnie submits in his brief that the periodic alimony award,
$5, 500 per month, is not appropriate in this case because
"there was absolutely no disparity in Amy's
financial position as compared to Ronnie's horrific
financial position" after the equitable division. While
he does not directly challenge the division, he nevertheless
urges that, in mathematical terms, Amy received more value in
the property division (approximately $390, 000) than the net
value of the marital estate (approximately $280, 000), and
significantly more than his net deficit after property
division, attorney's fees, and litigation expenses (which
he puts at $417, 000). Ronnie also points to Amy's income
of $6, 000 per month as a nurse ...