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Hunt v. Hunt

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 6, 2019

MARVIN HAYES HUNT APPELLANT
v.
MARINA HUNT APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/16/2017

          OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. H.J. DAVIDSON JR. JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TOM P. CALHOUN III.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: RODNEY PURVIS FAVER.

          BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.

          CARLTON, P.J.

         ¶1. Marina Hunt filed a petition for a citation of contempt against her former husband, Marvin Hayes Hunt (Hayes), seeking to enforce a "personal effects" provision of their marital property settlement agreement that was incorporated by reference into their divorce decree. The provision listed specific personal property items belonging to Marina that Hayes was to return to her. This petition was Marina's second contempt petition about the same issue. The Oktibbeha County Chancery Court had denied Marina's first contempt petition, finding that although Marina asserted that Hayes possessed the property, Hayes had sworn under oath that he did not possess the property and did not know where it was. In that same order, however, the chancery court instructed Hayes that he must "diligently search and . . . make any reasonable inquiries as to the whereabouts of the property and return it to Marina or inform her about its whereabouts immediately."

         ¶2. After a hearing on Marina's second contempt petition, the chancery court found Hayes in contempt of the divorce decree and the court's prior order on Marina's first contempt petition. The chancery court also ordered Hayes to pay Marina the attorney's fees she incurred in pursuing her second contempt petition. Hayes appealed, asserting that the chancery court manifestly erred in finding him in contempt and awarding attorney's fees based on that contempt determination. Finding no error, we affirm the chancery court's judgment.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶3. Marina filed a complaint for divorce, child custody, and other relief against Hayes in September 2013. The fault grounds set forth in the divorce complaint were eventually withdrawn and the parties agreed to a divorce in accordance with a "Child Custody and Property Settlement Agreement" which the parties executed on March 31, 2015. On November 6, 2015, the chancery court entered a supplemental order granting the Hunts a "full and final dissolution of their marriage and divorce from each other. . . ."

         ¶4. Less than a month later, Marina filed a contempt petition against Hayes that included, among other matters, a request that Hayes be ordered to "return [Marina's] personal effects as set out in the marital [property] settlement agreement." The "personal effects" provision in the property settlement agreement provides as follows:

[Hayes is required to] return all of the clothes, and personal effects, books, the big mirror from the living room, big picture that used to hang over the living room couch which Marina received from her grandmother, all of [Marina's] [c]hina and furniture and furnishings that [Marina] brought to the marriage, correspondence, her desk and hutch, [Andy's[1] desk, Christmas decorations [that Marina] brought to marriage, credenza from the foyer with the black granite top, kitchen table with six chairs, the table with the glass top and four chairs, and the decorative rocks that he dug out from the front yard, provided, however, that [Hayes] is only obligated [to return] such items in his possession or which he knows the whereabouts of, within sixty days.

         After a hearing, [2] the chancery court ruled on Marina's contempt petition and entered its order on March 28, 2016. With respect to Marina's request for her personal effects and certain personal property as set forth in the property settlement agreement, the chancellor first described the parties' testimony at the hearing, as follows:

What we have is Marina testifying that she was to receive certain items of personal property, but has not received them. She blames Hayes for his refusal to hand over those items. Hayes, on the other hand, says he cannot hand over those items he ...

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