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Littlefield v. Littlefield

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 27, 2019

PERRY EDWARD LITTLEFIELD APPELLANT
v.
BROOKE DIXON LITTLEFIELD APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/05/2018

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LAFAYETTE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. H.J. DAVIDSON JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PERRY EDWARD LITTLEFIELD (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JAMES ROGER FRANKS JR. WILLIAM RUFUS WHEELER JR. TIFFANY KAIL PHARR

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.

          TINDELL, J.

         ¶1. Perry Edward "Eddie" Littlefield appeals the opinion and final judgment of the Lafayette County Chancery Court entered on February 5, 2018, which granted a divorce in favor of Brooke Dixon Littlefield on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. Eddie also challenges the chancellor's equitable division of the couple's marital property following Brooke's waiver of certain rights to marital property and the chancellor's dismissal of his counterclaim with prejudice. Finding no error, we affirm the chancellor's judgment of divorce and division of the property. We also affirm the chancellor's dismissal of Eddie's counterclaim with prejudice.

         FACTS

         ¶2. Eddie and Brooke were married in Lafayette County, Mississippi on May 3, 2012, until their separation on or about May 11 or 12, 2017. The couple had no children from the marriage and very little personal property to divide. On May 18, 2017, Brooke filed her complaint for divorce on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment or, in the alternative, for irreconcilable differences, and Eddie filed his answer and counterclaim for divorce on the ground of adultery. The parties filed an agreed scheduling order, setting deadlines for all dispositive and pre-trial motions and setting the divorce trial for November 13, 2017. On November 9, 2017, four days before trial, Eddie filed a motion to amend his counterclaim, requesting that the chancellor dismiss his claim for divorce on the ground of adultery. The chancellor denied this motion as untimely.

         ¶3. Divorce proceedings occurred on November 13, 2017, and January 8, 2018. The chancellor heard testimony from several witnesses, including Eddie, Brooke, and Brooke's mother, Jean Dixon, and was provided with text messages exchanged between Eddie and Brooke. On February 5, 2018, the chancellor entered his opinion and final judgment, finding Brooke's testimony to be credible and sufficiently corroborated by other evidence. The chancellor also noted Eddie's extremely disruptive and antagonistic behavior during the divorce proceedings. In his opinion and final judgment, the chancellor granted a divorce in favor of Brooke on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and dismissed Eddie's counterclaim for divorce based upon adultery with prejudice.

         ¶4. The chancellor also found that the parties acquired most of their debts and personal property during the marriage. Because Brooke waived her right to most of the marital and disputed property, the chancellor awarded this property to Eddie. Brooke was awarded all remaining property, including a 2007 Infiniti, while Eddie was awarded the couple's Nissan Xterra. The chancellor also denied Eddie's request for alimony and for Brooke to bear responsibility for the remainder of his student loans. Aggrieved by this judgment, Eddie now timely appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5. We apply a limited standard of review when examining a chancellor's decision in domestic-relations matters. Williams v. Williams, 224 So.3d 1282, 1284 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017). "Chancellors are afforded wide latitude in fashioning equitable remedies in domestic-relations matters, and their decisions will not be reversed if the findings of fact are supported by substantial credible evidence in the record." Henderson v. Henderson, 757 So.2d 285, 289 (¶19) (Miss. 2000). We review the facts of a divorce decree "in a light most favorable to the appellee," and unless the chancellor's judgment was manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or based on an erroneous legal standard, the judgment should stand. Fisher v. Fisher, 771 So.2d 364, 367 (¶8) (Miss. 2000).

         ¶6. When reviewing chancellor's judgment of property division, we are required "to ensure that the chancellor followed the appropriate standards and did not abuse his discretion." Wells v. Wells, 800 So.2d 1239, 1243 (ΒΆ8) (Miss. Ct. App. 2001). We also review the chancellor's decision to deny Eddie's motion to amend his counterclaim ...


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