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Anderson v. Anderson

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 19, 2019

STEPHEN DEMOND ANDERSON SR. APPELLANT
v.
EMMARIE G. FLAGGS ANDERSON APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/17/2017

          WARREN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. JANE R. WEATHERSBY, JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DAVID NEIL McCARTY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: DAVID M. SESSUMS

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., WESTBROOKS AND LAWRENCE, JJ.

          LAWRENCE, J.,

         ¶1. In 2012, Emmarie Anderson filed for divorce against Stephen Anderson Sr. on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and adultery. In May 2016, the Warren County Chancery Court Clerk informed Emmarie that the case was set to be dismissed without prejudice under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). A few months later, Stephen filed for divorce against Emmarie on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and adultery. Emmarie then resurrected her 2012 case, amending her complaint but maintaining her grounds for divorce. The two cases were consolidated.

         ¶2. After a trial, the chancellor found Stephen guilty of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. The chancery court awarded Emmarie custody of their three children and Stephen visitation. Stephen was also ordered to pay child support. As part of the property division, the court awarded Emmarie use and possession of the marital home and ordered Stephen to continue paying the mortgage on the marital home, including the taxes and insurance. On appeal, Stephen argues that the chancery court erred in finding him at fault for the divorce and for ordering him to continue paying the mortgage on the marital home. Finding no error, we affirm the chancery court's judgment.

         FACTS

         ¶3. Stephen and Emmarie dated throughout high school and eventually married in 2007. They had three children together-N.F., born in 2000, S.F., born in 2006, and A.F., born in 2008.[1]

         ¶4. The couple had a turbulent marriage from the beginning. At trial, Emmarie testified that, during their first year of marriage, Stephen would have outbursts and "tear up things in the house." She also testified that he would "beat the hell out of [her]" two to three times a week. Emmarie detailed numerous violent instances over the course of their marriage. For example, around 2009, Stephen punched her in the face and caused her to temporarily lose hearing in her right ear. Both Emmarie's mother and the couple's eldest son, N.F., testified that they witnessed Stephen physically abuse Emmarie throughout the marriage.

         ¶5. When asked about her divorce filing in 2012, Emmarie explained that she and Stephen later reconciled, so she did not pursue the divorce. As part of their reconciliation, the couple signed a notarized document, with Stephen promising he would get help. According to Emmarie, Stephen never sought help, and their marriage kept suffering as a result. The couple eventually separated in July 2016, and Stephen moved out of the marital home. In October and November of 2016, Emmarie filed two restraining orders to protect herself and the children from Stephen. The second restraining order remained in effect until the trial.

         ¶6. Emmarie admitted at trial that she committed adultery-once on October 30, 2015. She also testified that Stephen had admitted to several affairs during the marriage. Stephen denied Emmarie's adultery allegations.

         ¶7. The court found Stephen guilty of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. After an analysis of the Ferguson[2] factors, the court found that Emmarie and the children should continue living in the marital home, with Stephen continuing to pay the mortgage. The court specified that Stephen and Emmarie could sell the home when their youngest child reached age 21 or was emancipated, with Emmarie receiving one-third equity and Stephen receiving two-thirds equity. The chancellor also ordered that Emmarie be responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and utilities of the home. The court denied Emmarie's request for alimony. Finally, the court ...


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