OF JUDGMENT: 10/16/2017
OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. H.J. DAVIDSON JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TOM P. CALHOUN III.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: RODNEY PURVIS FAVER.
CARLTON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.
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."
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.
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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withdrawn and the parties agreed to a divorce in accordance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. .
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 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
hearing,  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 ...