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Schimpf v. Schimpf Hardy

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 28, 2019

JAMES WALTER SCHIMPF JR. APPELLANT
v.
KARIN L. SCHIMPF HARDY APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/08/2017

          MADISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. CYNTHIA L. BREWER COURT

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MARK A. CHINN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: HEATHER MARIE ABY

          BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., TINDELL AND McDONALD, JJ.

          TINDELL, J.

         ¶1. 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.

         ¶2. 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.

         ¶3. 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.

         ¶4. 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.

         FACTS

         ¶5. 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 extracurricular-activity expenses.

         ¶6. 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 relief.

         ¶7. 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 trust ...


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