Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. Mull

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 7, 2017

MICHAEL CHADWICK SMITH APPELLANT
v.
KIMBERLY MARIE MULL APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/09/2015

         LEE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. JACQUELINE ESTES MASK

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAK MCGEE SMITH

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JASON D. HERRING, MICHAEL SPENCER CHAPMAN

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., FAIR AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. Michael Chadwick Smith (Mike) and Kimberly Marie Mull (Kim) married in 2005, and had two children. In 2011, Kim was granted a divorce from Mike on the ground of adultery, and the parties were awarded joint legal custody of the children. This appeal arises from certain provisions contained in the parties' divorce decree. We must decide whether the chancellor erred in (1) denying Mike's request for modification of the visitation-exchange location, (2) finding Mike in contempt of the divorce decree's alcohol provision, and (3) awarding Kim $425 in attorneys' fees. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Mike and Kim were married in Kentucky in 2005, where they both worked for the Toyota automobile-manufacturing company. A plant later opened in Mississippi, and the parties relocated to Tupelo. In 2011, Kim sought a divorce on the ground that Mike had committed adultery-a fact that Mike admitted. Mike countered, seeking a divorce from Kim for habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. Finding Mike's claim without merit, the chancellor denied Mike relief, and granted Kim a divorce. The parties were given joint legal custody of their children, with Kim receiving physical custody and Mike receiving liberal rights of visitation.

         ¶3. In 2012, Kim and the children relocated near Atlanta, Georgia, which impacted Mike's visitation. As a result, the parties modified their visitation agreement to meet in Leeds, Alabama, a halfway point between Tupelo and Atlanta. Because Mike was often in Kentucky for either work or leisure, he requested that Kim meet him in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the parties did so for a time. Eventually, however, problems arose with the visitation-exchange location, and the parties could not agree regarding exchanges when Mike was in Kentucky. Mike petitioned the chancery court to modify the exchange location and order Kim to meet him "at the most convenient location for the exchange of the minor children." Kim counterclaimed asserting that Mike was in contempt of the divorce decree after bringing the children to a private neighborhood cookout where others were consuming alcohol.

         ¶4. The alcohol provision at issue in the divorce judgment ordered: "The parties shall refrain from using alcohol . . . in the presence of the children. Further, the parties shall not allow others, including family members, to conduct such activities in the presence of the minor children." Both parties agreed to this provision in an agreed temporary order, and neither appealed this specific provision in the final judgment following their divorce.

         ¶5. Following a hearing, the chancellor found that modification of the exchange point was unnecessary based upon the evidence presented. The chancellor further found that Mike had violated the alcohol provision of the divorce decree by having the children in the presence of others using alcohol when he knew beforehand that alcohol would be served. The chancellor awarded Kim attorneys' fees for the contempt complaint against Mike. In response, Mike filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment or for clarification of the chancellor's findings. He argued that the alcohol provision was vague and ambiguous-thus he could not have committed a willful violation resulting in the finding of civil contempt.

         ¶6. The chancellor found Mike's arguments unpersuasive and upheld her finding of contempt. Per Mike's request, however, the chancellor explained that her ruling comprehended only the use of alcohol at private social gatherings, and did not pertain to events in venues open to the general public. Mike now appeals, arguing that: (1) the chancellor erred in finding that Mike committed willful contempt because the alcohol provision was vague and ambiguous; (2) because Mike did not commit willful contempt, the resulting attorneys' fees are erroneous; and (3) the chancellor erred by declining to modify the exchange location of the parties when Mike is not at his home in Tupelo.

         STANDARD ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.