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Arrington v. Arrington

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 11, 2018

HAROLD E. ARRINGTON APPELLANT
v.
MARGIE N. ARRINGTON APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/18/2017

          LEE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. JACQUELINE ESTES MASK JUDGE.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: RONALD WARREN SMITH KRISI ALLEN.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: MARGIE N. ARRINGTON (PRO SE).

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. Harold E. Arrington and Margie N. Arrington agreed to an irreconcilable-differences divorce. Margie's attorney drafted a joint complaint for divorce and a property settlement agreement. Without legal counsel, Harold signed both documents. On February 2, 2012, the joint complaint for divorce with the property settlement agreement attached were filed with the chancery clerk.

         ¶2. On May 15, 2012, the chancellor signed a final decree of divorce. The property settlement agreement was incorporated by reference in the final decree. For reasons that are not explained in the record, the final decree was not filed with the chancery clerk until June 3, 2014.

         ¶3. On August 23, 2013, through an attorney, Harold filed a withdrawal of consent to the joint claim for divorce. Then, on April 15, 2014, Harold filed an amended complaint for divorce on the ground of desertion. Margie answered Harold's amended complaint and filed a counter-complaint for divorce. Finally, on March 27, 2015, Harold filed a motion to set aside the divorce decree.

         ¶4. On May 18, 2017, the chancellor held a hearing "concerning the divorce of [Harold] and [Margie]." The chancellor noted that the final decree "was executed a year before the withdrawal of the consent was entered." The chancellor then ruled that the final decree, which was executed on May 15, 2012, would stand and that all subsequently filed pleadings were dismissed. Harold now appeals this order.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5. This Court will not disturb the findings of a chancellor when supported by substantial evidence unless the chancellor abused her discretion, was manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or applied an erroneous legal standard. Sanderson v. Sanderson, 824 So.2d 623, 625-26 (¶8) (Miss. 2002). "A chancellor's conclusions of law are reviewed de novo." Lowrey v. Lowrey, 25 So.3d 274, 285 (¶26) (Miss. 2009).

         ¶6. In addition, we note that Margie did not file a brief in this appeal. "Automatic reversal is not required where the appellee fails to file a brief." Rogillo v. Rogillo, 101 So.3d 150, 153 (¶12) (Miss. 2012). "Failure of an appellee to file a brief is tantamount to confession of error and will be accepted as such unless the reviewing court can say with confidence, after considering the record and brief of [the] appealing party, that there was no error." Dethlefs v. Beau Maison Dev. Corp., 458 So.2d 714, ...


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