Brown v. Brown, No. 2001-CA-00211-COA.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBefore McMILLIN, C.J., THOMAS, and MYERS, JJ.
Citation817 So.2d 588
Docket NumberNo. 2001-CA-00211-COA.
Decision Date05 March 2002
PartiesStephanie Cummings BROWN, Appellant, v. Matt BROWN, Appellee.

817 So.2d 588

Stephanie Cummings BROWN, Appellant,
v.
Matt BROWN, Appellee

No. 2001-CA-00211-COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

March 5, 2002.

Rehearing Denied May 28, 2002.


817 So.2d 589
Scott Joseph Schwartz, Hattiesburg, for Appellee

Before McMILLIN, C.J., THOMAS, and MYERS, JJ.

THOMAS, J., for the Court.

¶ 1. Matt Brown was granted a divorce from Stephanie Cummings Brown on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. Stephanie was awarded $300 per month rehabilitative alimony for thirty-six months. Stephanie appeals the chancellor's decision asserting the following issues as error:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING A DIVORCE TO MATT ON THE GROUNDS OF HABITUAL CRUEL AND INHUMAN TREATMENT.
II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING STEPHANIE'S REQUEST FOR SEPARATE MAINTENANCE.

Matt cross-appeals on the following issue:

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ORDERING MATT TO PAY REHABILITATIVE ALIMONY IN THE AMOUNT OF $300.00 A
817 So.2d 590
MONTH FOR THIRTY-SIX MONTHS.

Finding error, we reverse and render on the grant of divorce and remand for separate maintenance proceedings.

FACTS

¶ 2. Matt and Stephanie were married on November 20, 1993, and lived together until they separated May 26, 2000. At the time of their separation, Matt was employed as a teacher, coach, and athletic director and Stephanie was employed as a computer programmer. They had no children. Both Matt and Stephanie had bachelor's degrees earned before their marriage. Matt received a master's degree in education administration in 1998. Their incomes were very similar at the time of trial.

¶ 3. Matt sought a divorce on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment based upon physical and mental abuse that he alleged to have occurred during their marriage. Matt testified that there were no less than four physical attacks by his wife. One of these occurred at his place of employment. Stephanie admitted to only one such conflict which occurred a few months before their separation in which she slapped Matt. Matt admitted to shoving Stephanie into the washer and dryer on the same occasion.

¶ 4. It was at approximately the time of this conflict that Stephanie found out about Matt's relationship with another woman. Matt refused to answer under Fifth Amendment constitutional grounds as to whether a sexual relationship with the woman was the reason for the separation and divorce. Matt also alleged that Stephanie hated his profession and constantly berated him for it which ruined the marriage for him.

¶ 5. Stephanie did not desire a divorce and she requested separate maintenance and Matt's return to the marital home. After conducting a full trial on the matter, the chancellor granted Matt a divorce on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. In his ruling, the chancellor adopted the parties stipulation as to the disposition of assets and debts accumulated during the marriage and awarded Stephanie rehabilitative alimony in the amount of $300 per month for thirty-six months.

ANALYSIS

I. DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN GRANTING A DIVORCE TO MATT ON THE GROUNDS OF HABITUAL CRUEL AND INHUMAN TREATMENT?

¶ 6. The standard of review employed by this Court in domestic relations cases is abundantly clear. Chancellors are vested with broad discretion, and this Court will not disturb the chancellor's findings unless the court was manifestly wrong, the court abused its discretion, or the court applied an erroneous legal standard. Andrews v. Williams, 723 So.2d 1175, 1177(¶ 7) (Miss.Ct.App.1998). (citing Sandlin v. Sandlin, 699 So.2d 1198, 1203 (Miss.1997); Johnson v. Johnson, 650 So.2d 1281, 1285 (Miss.1994); Crow v. Crow, 622 So.2d 1226, 1228 (Miss.1993); Gregg v. Montgomery, 587 So.2d 928, 931 (Miss.1991)). However, we will not hesitate to reverse should we find that a chancery court was manifestly wrong, abused its discretion, or applied an erroneous legal standard. Glass v. Glass, 726 So.2d 1281, 1284(¶ 11) (Miss.Ct.App.1998) (citing Bowers Window & Door Co., Inc. v. Dearman, 549 So.2d 1309 (Miss.1989)).

¶ 7. Stephanie asserts that there was insufficient evidence to support the chancellor's awarding of a divorce to Matt on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman

817 So.2d 591
treatment. The ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment must be established by a preponderance of the evidence. Daigle v. Daigle, 626 So.2d 140 (Miss.1993). In Daigle, the Mississippi Supreme Court stated as follows
In order to establish habitual, cruel and inhuman treatment, the evidence should prove conduct that either endangers life, limb,
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1 practice notes
  • IN RE CONSERVATORSHIP OF ESTATE OF LOYD, No. 2002-CA-00054-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • October 28, 2003
    ...and we will only reverse if we determine that his findings were against the substantial weight of the credible evidence. Brown v. Brown, 817 So.2d 588, 591(¶ 7) (Miss.Ct.App.2002). The substantial weight of the evidence supports the chancellor's decision. This issue is without III. DID THE ......
1 cases
  • IN RE CONSERVATORSHIP OF ESTATE OF LOYD, No. 2002-CA-00054-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • October 28, 2003
    ...and we will only reverse if we determine that his findings were against the substantial weight of the credible evidence. Brown v. Brown, 817 So.2d 588, 591(¶ 7) (Miss.Ct.App.2002). The substantial weight of the evidence supports the chancellor's decision. This issue is without III. DID THE ......

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