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Gossett v. Gossett

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 5, 2018

CHESTER L. GOSSETT IV APPELLANT
v.
TIFFANY SMITH GOSSETT APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/08/2016

          WASHINGTON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. MARIE WILSON TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TONYA YEVETTE POWELL

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: NICK CRAWFORD VICKI L. GILLIAM

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND TINDELL, JJ.

          TINDELL, J.

         ¶1. Chester Gossett filed a complaint for divorce from his wife, Tiffany Gossett, on the grounds of adultery and cruel and inhuman treatment or, alternatively, irreconcilable differences. Tiffany answered and filed a counterclaim for divorce on the same grounds. The Washington County Chancery Court dismissed both Chester's complaint and Tiffany's counterclaim. On appeal, Chester argues the chancellor erroneously dismissed his divorce complaint because he presented sufficient evidence to establish both fault-based grounds.

         ¶2. Upon review, we find no manifest error in the chancellor's determination that Chester failed to sufficiently prove cruel and inhuman treatment. We therefore affirm that portion of the chancellor's judgment. As to Chester's adultery allegation, however, we find the chancellor misapplied the relevant legal standard. We therefore reverse the portion of the chancellor's ruling regarding Chester's adultery claim and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         FACTS

         ¶3. Chester and Tiffany met and began dating in 2005. Chester informed Tiffany that he had served thirteen years in prison before being released in 2004 and placed on lifetime supervised parole. The couple dated for almost two years before marrying in 2007. Their daughter was born in June 2011, and in May 2012, the couple bought a home just down the street from Chester's mother's home. Chester's mother, who was a retired teacher, often watched the parties' daughter while the parties worked.

         ¶4. The parties' marriage began to deteriorate in March 2014, leading to their eventual separation in December 2014. On March 25, 2015, Chester filed his divorce complaint, and on April 29, 2015, Tiffany answered and filed her counterclaim for divorce. Each party asserted the fault-based grounds of adultery and cruel and inhuman treatment or, alternatively, irreconcilable differences. On June 30, 2015, the chancellor entered an order granting Tiffany temporary custody of the parties' daughter and granting Chester scheduled visitation. Following a one-day trial, the chancellor entered a final judgment on March 9, 2016, that denied the parties' requested relief, dismissed their divorce filings, and terminated the temporary-relief order. Aggrieved by the dismissal of his divorce complaint, Chester appeals.[1]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5. In domestic-relations cases, this Court's review is limited. Williams v. Williams, 224 So.3d 1282, 1284 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017). We leave the chancellor's factual findings undisturbed unless the chancellor was manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous or applied an incorrect legal standard. Id. Where substantial evidence supports the chancellor's findings, we will not reverse the decision on appeal. Smith v. Smith, 90 So.3d 1259, 1262 (ΒΆ7) (Miss. ...


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