OF JUDGMENT: 05/09/2017
FROM WHICH APPEALED: JONES COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, SECOND
JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. FRANKLIN C. MCKENZIE JR. TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: GAY L. POLK-PAYTON.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: MICHAEL CLAYTON BAREFIELD.
GRIFFIS, P.J., WILSON AND TINDELL, JJ.
Laquita Burgess and McKinley Williamson have a daughter,
Elizabeth, who was born in 1999. Prior to 2015, Burgess and
Williamson had an extra-judicial custody and support
arrangement. In 2015, Williamson petitioned the Jones County
Chancery Court to determine custody and support. The court
awarded physical custody to Williamson, visitation to
Burgess, and joint legal custody. The court also ordered
Burgess to pay child support to Williamson. One year later,
Williamson filed a petition for contempt alleging that
Burgess was behind on child support. Burgess answered and
sought a modification of her support obligation. The day
before the hearing on the petition and counterclaim, Burgess
filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the court lacked
jurisdiction. Burgess did not attend the hearing the
following day, although her attorney was present. The
chancery court denied Burgess's motion to dismiss and
found her in contempt for failing to pay child support.
¶2. On appeal, Burgess alleges that the chancery court
lacked jurisdiction and erred in setting child support. We
find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Burgess and Williamson have never been married but have a
daughter, Elizabeth, who was born in Forrest County in 1999.
Burgess allowed Williamson to have physical custody of
Elizabeth in 2003, and Elizabeth lived with Williamson and
his wife in Georgia from 2003 to 2009. Williamson's wife
is a member of the United States Air Force, and in January
2010 the Williamsons moved to Ramstein Air Base in Germany
with Elizabeth and their other two children. Burgess
consented to Elizabeth's move to Germany with Williamson.
On January 20, 2015, Williamson filed a petition for custody
and child support in the Jones County Chancery Court.
Although he and Elizabeth still lived in Germany, Williamson
asserted that he was a resident of Jones County and that the
Jones County Chancery Court had jurisdiction pursuant to the
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
(UCCJEA). See Miss. Code Ann. § 93-27-201 (Rev.
2013). Williamson sought sole physical and joint legal
custody of Elizabeth. He alleged that Elizabeth's
passport had recently expired and that he had been unable to
obtain Burgess's written consent to renew the passport.
As a result, Elizabeth was "unable to leave
Germany." Williamson also sought an order requiring
Burgess to pay child support.
Burgess filed an answer. She denied that Williamson was a
resident of Jones County, but she admitted that the chancery
court had jurisdiction, and she filed a counterclaim for
physical custody of Elizabeth and child support. Burgess
alleged that she was a resident of Forrest County, although
she was then stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland as a member
of the United States Army.
After a trial,  the chancery court entered a final
judgment on September 8, 2015, granting physical custody to
Williamson with joint legal custody and visitation rights to
Burgess. The court ordered Burgess to pay $827 in child
support each month, "[i]n accordance with statutory
guidelines, as applied to [Burgess's] Rule 8.05 Financial
Declaration." Neither party appealed the court's
In November 2016, Williamson filed a petition for contempt
and requested entry of a wage withholding order against
Burgess. Williamson alleged that Burgess had unilaterally
reduced her monthly support payments and had failed to make
some payments altogether. He requested that the court find
Burgess in contempt and enter a judgment for the arrearage
and his attorney's fees. By this time, Burgess had
relocated to a United States Army base in Germany, where she
was served by certified mail.
Burgess answered Williamson's petition and counterclaimed
for a modification of support based on an alleged change in
her income. In her answer, Burgess "denied,"
without explanation, Williamson's allegation that the
court had jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. However, in her
counterclaim, she expressly acknowledged that the chancery
court had "jurisdiction of the parties." She also
waived any ...