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Ethridge v. Ethridge

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 26, 2017

THOMAS E. ETHRIDGE, III APPELLANT
v.
CHRISTY WARD ETHRIDGE APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/05/2016

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED FORREST COUNTY CHANCERY JUDGE HON. M. RONALD DOLEAC TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT DIANNE HERMAN ELLIS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE S. CHRISTOPHER FARRIS

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.

          IRVING, P. JUDGE.

         ¶1. Thomas Ethridge III appeals the judgment of the Forrest County Chancery Court, arguing that the court erred in awarding Christy Ethridge physical custody of their minor child and in not awarding him a new trial after learning of Christy's alleged perjured testimony.

         ¶2. Finding no error, we affirm..

         FACTS

         ¶3. Thomas and Christy were married February 20, 2015, and one child was born to the marriage. Thomas and Christy filed competing complaints for divorce, and the chancery court consolidated the complaints. The parties later withdrew all fault grounds and agreed to a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, leaving the issue of custody, among other issues, to be determined by the chancery court. At the conclusion of the trial, the court conducted an on-the-record Albright[1] analysis to determine custody and visitation. The court awarded physical custody to Christy and joint legal custody to Christy and Thomas.

         ¶4. After the court's ruling, Thomas filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure 59 and 60, arguing that Christy perjured herself during her testimony and, given the Albright analysis, he should have been awarded custody of the child or more extensive visitation. He contended that the failure of the trial court to award custody to him was based solely upon the court's excessive reliance upon the tender-years doctrine and was therefore an abuse of discretion. Thomas's motion was denied, and this appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5. "In reviewing a child custody decision, we will affirm unless the chancellor was manifestly wrong, [the decision] was clearly erroneous, or [the chancellor] applied an erroneous legal standard. Error arises if the chancellor's decision is not supported by substantial evidence in the record." Limbaugh v. Limbaugh, 749 So.2d 1244, 1246 (¶9) (Miss. Ct. App. 1999).

         ¶6. Before discussing the issues raised by Thomas, Christy has raised an issue that requires addressing. She argues that Thomas's notice of appeal states that he is appealing from the April 26, 2016 ruling on his motion for a new trial. The notice does not state that he is appealing from the judgment of divorce and custody that was entered by the court on January 5, 2016. Therefore, she argues the ...


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