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Ellison v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 18, 2019

ELEANOR E. ELLISON APPELLANT
v.
STEPHEN D. WILLIAMS APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/28/2017

          UNION COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL HON. C. MICHAEL MALSKI, JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOE M. DAVIS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: RICHARD SHANE McLAUGHLIN

          BEFORE J. WILSON, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND McDONALD, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Eleanor Ellison appeals the Union County Chancery Court's division of her and Stephen Williams's marital estate. Ellison and Williams separated in August 2016 when Williams moved out of the marital home. Ellison and Williams resided in two homes during their marriage and owned both at the time of their separation. The Union County Chancery Court found that both homes were marital property and divided their remaining assets. The chancellor awarded Ellison sixty percent of the marital estate and awarded Williams the remaining forty percent. Ellison timely appeals.

         FACTS

         ¶2. Ellison and Williams married on April 23, 2007, and resided in a home deeded to Ellison by her parents (Ingomar Property). Her parents had fully paid for the home, and they deeded it to Ellison in her name only. The couple resided in the home for almost eight years before they decided to purchase another home in a different school district so that Ellison's grandson could attend school there (Highway 348 Property).

         ¶3. Together Ellison and Williams took out an equity loan on the Ingomar Property to purchase the Highway 348 Property and an additional loan to cover the amount that the equity loan did not. They resided at the Highway 348 Property and rented the Ingomar Property from January 2015 until their separation in September 2016. While residing in the home, Williams took on many repair projects, such as painting rooms, putting down hardwood floors, installing a hot tub, and laying a brick paver around the home.

         ¶4. After Williams left the marital home, Ellison was solely responsible for the finances of both the Ingomar Property and the Highway 348 Property with the exception of two months. She continued to rent out the Ingomar Property, which covered its mortgage, and began receiving $500 a week from her son to help with the Highway 348 Property mortgage and her living expenses because she was not working. Ellison testified that since the separation, her son had loaned her approximately $35, 000.

         ¶5. Shortly after Williams's departure, he began an extramarital relationship. In January 2017, Ellison filed a complaint for divorce and cited Williams's adultery. After a hearing in November 2017, the chancellor granted the divorce and awarded Ellison sixty percent of the marital estate and Williams forty percent. The chancellor also found that the $35, 000 loan from Ellison's son was not marital debt, and the chancellor did not award either party attorney's fees. In 2018, Ellison filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied by the chancery court. Aggrieved, Ellison appealed. After review of the record, we affirm the chancellor's judgment in part and reverse and remand in part for further proceedings.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6. "It is well settled that this Court applies a limited standard of review on appeals from chancery court." Rodgers v. Moore, 101 So.3d 189, 193 (¶8) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012) (internal quotation mark omitted). "The chancery court's factual findings will not be disturbed if they are supported by substantial evidence unless we can say with reasonable certainty that the chancellor abused his discretion, was manifestly wrong or clearly erroneous, or applied an erroneous legal standard." Id. "Questions of law receive a de novo review." Id.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶7. Ellison raises three issues on appeal. Ellison asserts the chancellor erred (1) by misapplying the Ferguson factors, (2) by not finding the loan from her son was marital ...


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