JAMES WALTER SCHIMPF JR. APPELLANT
KARIN L. SCHIMPF HARDY APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 05/08/2017
MADISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. CYNTHIA L.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MARK A. CHINN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: HEATHER MARIE ABY
CARLTON, P.J., TINDELL AND McDONALD, JJ.
On August 23, 2016, the Madison County Chancery Court entered
an interim order on issues of contempt and modification of
child support and child custody that had arisen between James
Walter Schimpf Jr. (Walt) and his ex-wife, Karin Schimpf
Hardy (Karin). In the interim order, the chancellor awarded
Walt, the noncustodial parent, temporary care and custody of
the parties' two minor children. Following the entry of
the interim order, Walt began to place each month's
child-support payment of $3, 000 in his attorney's trust
account as the payment became due.
On May 8, 2017, the chancellor entered her final judgment.
Among other things, the final judgment modified custody so
that Walt received sole physical custody of the couple's
children. The final judgment also terminated Walt's
child-support obligation and ordered Karin to begin paying
child support. The final judgment did not, however, credit
Walt for the $3, 000 a month in child-support payments that
he had made during the nine months between the entry of the
interim order and the effective termination date of his
support obligation. Instead, the chancellor ordered
"[a]ll child[-]support funds currently in trust accounts
and/or escrow, if any, . . . [to] be immediately disbursed to
Karin." The chancellor also held Walt in contempt for
failing to reimburse Karin for some of the children's
medical and extracurricular-activity expenses. The chancellor
therefore ordered Walt to pay the past-due expenses, plus
interest at the rate of 8% a year.
Walt filed a motion for clarification or reconsideration as
to (1) his continued liability for child support between the
date of entry of the interim order and the effective
termination date of his obligation and (2) the date on which
his 8% interest began to run. Karin filed a motion for a new
trial. By order entered September 26, 2017, the chancellor
denied both parties' posttrial motions. On appeal, Walt
argues the chancellor erred by failing to credit him for the
child-support payments he made during the nine months the
parties' children were temporarily in his sole physical
custody pursuant to the chancellor's interim order.
Because we agree that the chancellor erred as to this issue,
we reverse that portion of the chancellor's judgment. In
rendering a judgment in Walt's favor, we find that Walt
is entitled to a return of the $27, 000 in child-support
payments he made during the nine months he had temporary
physical custody of the parties' children pursuant to the
chancellor's interim order. As to all other aspects of
the chancellor's final judgment, we affirm.
Walt and Karin married in 1994. During the course of their
marriage, they had two daughters. On June 27, 2006, the
chancellor granted the parties a divorce and awarded them
joint legal custody of their minor daughters. Karin received
primary physical custody subject to Walt's visitation.
The chancellor ordered Walt to pay $3, 000 a month in child
support and to pay one-half of the children's medical and
On June 19, 2015, Walt filed a "Petition to Modify
Custody, Visitation[, ] and Child Support and for Contempt
and Other Relief." Walt's petition alleged three
counts of contempt against Karin for her failure to comply
with the divorce decree. Walt also sought sole physical
custody of the parties' children or, alternatively, joint
physical custody and modification of the visitation schedule.
In responding to Walt's petition, Karin filed an answer
and a counterclaim for contempt against Walt. Karin also
sought modification of child support and the visitation
schedule. Karin subsequently filed additional contempt
motions and a request for emergency relief. On June 15, 2016,
the chancellor denied Karin's request for emergency
On August 10, 2016, the chancellor held a hearing on the
parties' various filings for modification and contempt.
After hearing the evidence, the chancellor determined it was
in the children's best interest that she enter an interim
order until she could enter her final judgment. In her August
23, 2016 interim order, the chancellor ordered Walt to place
into his attorney's trust account the sums for child
support and medical expenses that Karin alleged he had failed
to pay her. The chancellor also ordered Walt to begin placing
each month's child-support payment in his attorney's