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Easterling v. Easterling

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 20, 2018

CHARLES D. EASTERLING APPELLANT
v.
LAJUANA EASTERLING APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/08/2016

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PERRY COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. SUSAN RHEA SHELDON, JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PHILLIP LLOYD LONDEREE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: S. CHRISTOPHER FARRIS

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND TINDELL, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. This case considers the chancellor's denial of a motion to reconsider a judgment that granted a modification of alimony payments. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Charles D. Easterling and Lajuana Easterling had been married for thirty-seven years when they were divorced on January 23, 2013. They entered into a property-settlement agreement that stipulated the terms of their divorce. Among the terms, Charles was required to pay monthly periodic alimony in the amount of $2, 500 to Lajuana; Lajuana retained possession of the marital home; and Charles was obligated to pay the monthly note on the home.

         ¶3. Prior to and at the time of the divorce, Charles worked as a tool pusher for Ensco, an off-shore oil-drilling contractor. After the divorce, Charles remarried, and he now has an adopted daughter and two stepchildren who reside in his home. However, Charles testified that due to circumstances in the oil industry beyond his control, he was terminated from Ensco in 2015. Charles testified that he was without a regular income. He said that he had attempted to find other employment in the oil industry, but to no avail. He further testified that he picked up odd jobs when available.

         ¶4. On August 13, 2015, Charles filed a complaint for modification of his alimony obligation. A hearing was held with both Charles and Lajuana in attendance on December 2, 2015. There was no record or written order of the proceedings. But each party agreed that the court temporarily reduced Charles's alimony obligation to $600 per month. From that date until the final judgment, Charles paid the reduced amount of alimony and ceased monthly payments on the home-equity line of credit, which forced Lajuana to begin paying the interest on the mortgage.

         ¶5. A trial was held on May 10, 2016. The chancellor found that Charles's termination from Ensco was an unanticipated, unforeseen loss of employment beyond his control that resulted in a substantial material change in circumstances. Therefore, the chancellor then analyzed the Armstrong factors and granted Charles a permanent reduction of his alimony payments to $1, 500 per month.

         ¶6. Charles then filed a motion to reconsider and asked the chancellor to completely eliminate his alimony obligation. ...


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