Descher v. Descher

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Citation304 So.3d 620
Docket NumberNO. 2018-CA-01338-COA,2018-CA-01338-COA
Parties Jeffrey H. DESCHER, Appellant v. April Pucheu DESCHER, Appellee
Decision Date14 January 2020

304 So.3d 620

Jeffrey H. DESCHER, Appellant
April Pucheu DESCHER, Appellee

NO. 2018-CA-01338-COA

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

January 14, 2020
Rehearing Denied May 12, 2020
Rehearing Denied October 29, 2020





304 So.3d 623

¶1. On May 11, 2015, after seventeen years of marriage, April Descher filed a complaint for divorce against her husband, Jeffrey (Jeff) Descher. Two children were born of the marriage. Before a trial began in March 2017, April and Jeff consented to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences. The parties agreed to allow the chancellor to decide the distribution of the marital property, child custody and custodial child support, and the appropriateness of alimony, among other disputes submitted to the chancellor for resolution.

¶2. Jeff either owned by himself or co-owned with his brother thirteen McDonald's restaurants across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and southern Alabama, along with an apartment complex, a car wash, and a commercial building. This resulted in a profitable and sizable marital estate that was accumulated during the course of the marriage. The chancellor valued the marital estate and found that alimony was appropriate. As a result, the chancellor awarded April lump sum alimony in the amount of $856,794.98 and permanent periodic alimony in the amount of $7,500 per month. The chancellor further ordered Jeff to pay $7,500 per month in child support and to pay the children's college expenses. In addition, the chancellor ordered Jeff to purchase a one million dollar life insurance policy with the two children listed as the sole beneficiaries. Jeff now appeals the award of child support, college expenses, and the life insurance requirement, along with the chancellor's decision to award April permanent periodic alimony. We find that the chancellor equitably distributed the vast marital estate and did not commit manifest error in awarding lump-sum alimony, requiring the payment of child support and college expenses, requiring life insurance for the children's benefit, and awarding permanent periodic alimony. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the chancellor.


¶3. April Descher filed a complaint for divorce in 2015. The parties consented to an irreconcilable-differences divorce on February 15, 2017. The consent decree asked the chancellor to determine the issues raised in April's original complaint, absent the grounds for divorce. The issues determined by the chancellor that are relevant to this appeal were child support and any related expenses, college tuition, life insurance, and permanent periodic alimony.

¶4. Throughout their marriage, the Deschers built a sizeable marital estate. The marital estate came from Jeff's ownership interest in numerous businesses including thirteen McDonald's restaurants, an apartment complex, a car wash, and a commercial building. April was not listed as an owner on any of the businesses acquired during the marriage.1 The record shows that at the time of trial Jeff's ownership interests, along with the estimated valuation of those interests by the court appointed expert,2 were as follows:

304 So.3d 624
1. The business BGJ, LLC owns an office complex building. Jeff owned a 33.33% interest along with his brothers Gregg Descher and Dr. Bill Descher. Jeff's interest was valued at $208,000 at trial.

2. The business C2J, LLC owns a car wash. Jeff owned a 50% interest with Joshua Rimes. At the time of trial, the value of Jeff's interest was $0.3

3. Big D owns 100% of nine subsidiary companies and the apartment complex (Green Tree Apartments). Jeff and his brother Gregg each owned a 50% interest. Each of the nine subsidiary companies owned and operated eleven businesses: (1) Fourteen D owns two McDonald's stores; (2) Fifteen D owns one McDonald's store; (3) Sixteen D owns one McDonald's store; (4) Seventeen D owns one McDonald's store; (5) Eighteen D owns two McDonald's stores;4 (6) Nineteen D owns one McDonald's store; (7) Twenty D owns one McDonald's store; (8) Twenty-One D owns one McDonald's store. The total of Jeff's interests in all of these businesses was valued at $68,300 at trial.5

4. Four D is not a subsidiary of Big D and owns one McDonald's store. Jeff owns a 50% interest in Four D. At trial, Jeff's valued interest was $251,000.

5. Five D is not a subsidiary of Big D and owns one McDonald's store. Jeff owns a 50% interest in Five D. Jeff's valued interest at trial was $710,000.

6. Six D is not a subsidiary of Big D and owns one McDonald's store. Jeff owns a 50% interest in Six D. His valued interest at trial was $152,000.

7. Twelve D is not a subsidiary of Big D. Jeff is the sole owner of Twelve D, which owns and operates one McDonald's store. His valued interest at the time of trial was $912,000.
304 So.3d 625

The total sum of Jeff's interests in all of the businesses he acquired during the marriage was valued at $2,301,300.

¶5. April worked for the Descher business conglomerate. She was responsible for monogramming the uniforms of the corporation's employees, handling gift certificates, and addressing customer complaints at any of the thirteen restaurants.6 April testified that she worked as an assistant at Benefield Eye Care before her marriage and as a sales clerk during high school. Otherwise, April has only worked for the Descher family. The chancellor found that April's yearly income was $36,288, with an adjusted gross income of $2,491.25 per month. Her Rule 8.05 financial statement listed $12,784.82 in her personal monthly expenses and $3,402.33 in expenses for the two children, for a total of $16,168.33 in monthly expenses.7 Because April would receive the home and her vehicle free and clear of any debt, this left her personal monthly expenses at $7,199.50 per month.

¶6. Jeff's Rule 8.05 statement listed his monthly income before taxes as $65,931.33. Further, his Rule 8.05 listed his after-tax monthly income at $40,986.34. However, during his questioning by April's attorney, it was proved that these figures were not accurate. Jeff and his accountant reduced his actual before-tax income by claiming section 179 pass-through expenses,8 which are tax deductions for business expenses in the type of corporations that Jeff had set up. While those expenses may be tax deductible, they are still income for the purpose of evaluating child support and alimony. For example, Jeff claimed $500,000, which was actually income for Big D, in pass-through deductions as expenses for opening a new McDonald's restaurant after his separation from April. That $500,000 deduction was used to reduce Big D's net-profit income by $500,000. In other words, Big D's 2016 net-profit was $941,198, but Jeff deducted $500,000 from that $941,198 as a business deduction for the new McDonald's. That $500,000 was still income for Jeff and his brother and was used to open a new business. Just because it was classified as a deduction on his tax returns does not mean that it was not income for the purposes of child support and alimony. There were numerous other deductions as well. The chancellor added all of the deductions Jeff used to reduce his before-tax income on his Rule 8.05 statement and instead of arriving at the number suggested by Jeff ($65,931.33), the chancellor found that the actual before-tax monthly income for Jeff was $96,316.66. The chancellor then reduced that figure by the taxes owed and concluded that Jeff's after-tax monthly income was not $40,986.34 (as stated in his Rule 8.05 statement), but, in fact, was $71,377.67. This is the monthly income the chancellor used in evaluating child support and alimony.

¶7. The chancellor found that it was in the best interest of the minor children for April to retain physical custody. Jeff was ordered to pay $7,500 in child support each month until the oldest child reached age twenty-one, married, or was otherwise emancipated. In addition, the chancellor determined that Jeff was responsible for the cost of the children's private or public

304 So.3d 626

college education and related expenses, along with any health and medical expenses. Jeff was also ordered to obtain a one million dollar life insurance policy that named the children as beneficiaries to ensure that the support would continue if Jeff prematurely died.

¶8. The chancellor then valued the entire marital estate in an effort to determine an equitable distribution. The judgment indicates that the chancellor was thorough in his distribution of the marital estate. As a result of the distribution, April received the marital home, valued at $625,000, and a 2016 GMC Denali, both of which would be free and clear of any indebtedness once Jeff paid the loans in total, as ordered. Further, April received $45,500 (from the sale of a Yellowfin boat) and her personal property. Jeff received his full interests in all the above-listed business entities, $45,500 from the sale of the Yellowfin boat, a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser, and his personal property. The chancellor found that the total marital estate was valued at...

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  • Lewis v. Lewis
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • 25 April 2023
    ...The sum of those payments is $6,200. [3] The house note alone was $1,577 per month-or $18,924 for the year. [4] Descher v. Descher, 304 So.3d 620, 630 (¶26) (Miss. Ct. App. 2020) (emphasis omitted) (quoting Castle v. Castle, 266 So.3d 1042, 1053 (¶43) (Miss. Ct. App. 2018)), cert. granted, ......

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