OF JUDGMENT: 03/04/2016
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. JANE R. WEATHERSBY TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: B. BLAKE TELLER GEORGE PHILIP
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: DAVID M. SESSUMS PENNY B. LAWSON J.
LEE, C.J., FAIR AND GREENLEE, JJ.
After finding that Tammy English was in contempt for failing
to pay Richard Davenport lump-sum alimony, the Warren County
Chancery Court ordered her to satisfy the arrearage in
installments. The chancellor held that English would be
incarcerated if she failed to do so. English appeals and
claims the chancellor erred by (1) finding her in willful and
contumacious contempt of her alimony obligation; and (2)
ordering that she would be incarcerated. But it was within
the chancellor's discretion to find that English failed
to prove that she was unable to satisfy her lump-sum alimony
obligation. And English's inability to pay as a defense
to incarceration is not properly before us. Thus, we affirm
the chancellor's judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Incident to their 2012 divorce, English was ordered to pay
Davenport approximately $8, 400 per month in lump-sum alimony
for 180 months. Davenport v. Davenport, 156 So.3d
231, 235 (¶11) (Miss. 2014). The award was intended to
avoid dividing a number of companies that the former couple
owned, including Good Samaritan Physical Therapy, Inc.
Id. at (¶10). English appealed, and the
Mississippi Supreme Court retained the case.
Meanwhile, English and Davenport were in practically constant
litigation related to English's lump-sum alimony
obligation. English was held in contempt after she failed to
make the September through November 2012 alimony payments,
among other things. She apparently satisfied that contempt
judgment, but she was later found in contempt again after she
did not pay alimony from December 2012 through March 2013.
She satisfied that judgment after she sold her home to her
Next, English failed to pay alimony from September through
December 2013. English sold her lake house and became current
through January 2014. However, she did not pay any alimony
from January to May 2014. On May 13, 2014, the chancellor
entered a judgment in Davenport's favor for more than
$42, 000. The chancellor held that English would be
incarcerated if she did not become current on her alimony by
May 30, 2014.
In November 2014, the supreme court affirmed the
chancellor's divorce judgment. Id. at 241
(¶36). The supreme court also upheld the
chancellor's valuation of the business, the equitable
distribution of the marital property, and the lump-sum
alimony award. Id. The supreme court found no merit
to English's claim that she was unable to pay
approximately $8, 400 per month in lump-sum alimony.
Id. at (¶35).
In March 2015, Davenport filed another contempt petition. At
that time, English had not satisfied the previous contempt
judgment, and she had failed to pay alimony from June 2014
through February 2015. English responded with an emergency
motion to stay an arrest warrant and to modify her alimony
obligation. She claimed she was unable to make the lump-sum
alimony payments, so she should not be held in contempt.
After hearing evidence over the course of three days, the
chancellor found no merit to English's request to modify
her alimony obligation. The chancellor also found that
English was again in contempt. Consequently, the chancellor
awarded Davenport a judgment for approximately $114, 000. The
chancellor held that English had to pay Davenport $50, 000 by
March 1, 2016. She then had to pay him another $50, 000
on June 1, 2016. The remaining balance was due on August 1,
2016. The chancellor held that English would be incarcerated
if she failed to make any of the payments. English also had
to continue making alimony payments as they became due. After
filing an unsuccessful motion for reconsideration, English