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Inge v. Inge

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 3, 2017

DENISE L. INGE APPELLANT
v.
EVIE INGE APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/26/2016

         OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. DOROTHY WINSTON COLOM

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAY HOWARD HURDLE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: TAMEKIA R. GOLIDAY

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

          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Denise Inge filed for divorce in 2001 after twenty-five years of marriage to her husband, Evie. Evie thereafter moved out of the marital home. The case languished on the docket for over fourteen years until the parties consented to an irreconcilable differences divorce. They submitted the equitable division and distribution of the marital estate to the chancellor for determination. Following a hearing, the chancellor awarded each party his/her respective retirement account and awarded Denise the marital home upon payment of $45, 000 to Evie for his interest in the home. On appeal, Denise argues that the chancellor ordered her to pay Evie too much and that the reasoning of the final judgment contains factual and legal errors. We find no reversible error and affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Evie and Denise were married in June 1976. They had two children, who were born in 1979 and 1982. Around June 2000, Evie moved out of the marital bedroom and into a separate bedroom. In September 2001, Denise filed for divorce, and Evie moved out of the marital home shortly thereafter. He lived with his brother for about three years and then purchased a home of his own.

         ¶3. During the marriage, both parties worked. Evie was a driver at UPS, and Denise was a welder at Babcock and Wilcox. Evie continued to work at UPS until he retired in 2007 at age fifty-eight. Evie now receives $3, 050 per month in retirement from UPS and $1, 875 per month from Social Security. Because of carpal tunnel syndrome, Denise had to stop working in 2001 at age forty-seven. She subsequently applied for and was awarded Social Security disability and receives disability payments of $1, 528 per month. At age sixty-five (beginning July 1, 2019), Denise will be eligible to receive monthly retirement payments of approximately $957.33 from her former employer.[1]

         ¶4. No temporary order of support was ever entered after Evie moved out of the marital home. However, for six years, Evie continued to make monthly mortgage payments on the marital home of $1, 330.55 until the mortgage was paid off in October 2007. Denise has continued to pay taxes and insurance on the home. Evie also testified that, after he moved out, he cashed out a 401(k) account and gave Denise $16, 000, which he says was to assist with their second child's college education. Denise testified, "I think it was [$10, 000], " which she said she needed for bills.

         ¶5. The marital home appraised for $170, 000 in 2015, and neither party disputes the accuracy of the appraisal. Denise testified that she made improvements to the home in 2002 and again in 2013. The 2002 improvements consisted of painting and repairs to the interior and exterior of the home and remodeling in the kitchen and bathrooms. Denise testified that she paid her brother, a contractor, $21, 110 for the work. The 2013 improvements consisted of an enclosed garage, a sunroom, and new siding. Denise testified that she paid her brother $19, 650 for the work. Denise presented pictures and one-page summaries of the work performed but no receipts or copies of checks.

         ¶6. After Denise filed for divorce in 2001, the case languished on the docket for over fourteen years with long periods of inactivity. Finally, in December 2015, the parties filed a consent to an irreconcilable differences divorce and agreed to submit one issue to the court: "The determination and an equitable division and distribution of the marital estate, including but not limited to real estate and the parties' retirement . . . ."

         ¶7. A hearing was held in December 2015 and April 2016, and the chancellor entered a final judgment dividing the marital estate in July 2016. In the final judgment, the chancellor conducted a Ferguson[2] analysis, awarded each party his/her respective retirement account, and awarded Denise the marital home upon payment to Evie of $45, 000 for his equity in the home. The judgment provides that if Denise opts not to buy out Evie, the home shall be listed for ...


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