Dorman v. Dorman, No. 98-CA-00258-COA.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBEFORE BRIDGES, C.J., COLEMAN, IRVING, AND PAYNE, JJ.
Citation737 So.2d 426
PartiesJacqueline Sullivan DORMAN, Jack Sullivan and Mary Ann Sullivan, Appellants, v. Bryan DORMAN, Wayne Dorman and Wife, Deborah Dorman, Appellees.
Decision Date23 February 1999
Docket NumberNo. 98-CA-00258-COA.

737 So.2d 426

Jacqueline Sullivan DORMAN, Jack Sullivan and Mary Ann Sullivan, Appellants,
v.
Bryan DORMAN, Wayne Dorman and Wife, Deborah Dorman, Appellees

No. 98-CA-00258-COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

February 23, 1999.


737 So.2d 428
Thomas L. Booker, Jr., Laurel G. Weir, Philadelphia, Attorneys for Appellants

Scott A.C. Johnson, Philadelphia, Attorney for Appellees.

BEFORE BRIDGES, C.J., COLEMAN, IRVING, AND PAYNE, JJ.

PAYNE, J., for the Court:

PROCEDURAL POSTURE AND ISSUES PRESENTED

¶ 1. This case is before the Court on appeal of the judgment of the Chancery County of Neshoba County by Jackie Dorman and her parents Jack and Mary Ann Sullivan challenging the denial of divorce and the award of custody of the minor child to the paternal grandparents and the denial of visitation rights for Jackie. Specifically, Jackie and her parents raise the following four issues for our review:

I. WHETHER THE CHANCELLOR ERRED IN NOT GRANTING JACKIE A DIVORCE ON THE GROUNDS OF HABITUAL CRUEL AND INHUMAN TREATMENT AND UNCONDONED ADULTERY
II. WHETHER THE CHANCELLOR ERRED IN NOT GRANTING JACKIE CUSTODY OF THE MINOR CHILD
III. WHETHER THE CHANCELLOR ERRED IN PLACING CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILD WITH PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS
IV. WHETHER THE CHANCELLOR ERRED IN NOT GRANTING JACKIE VISITATION WITH THE MINOR CHILD

On review of the record and the briefs filed by both parties, we reverse and remand for further action consistent with this opinion.

FACTS

¶ 2. Jackie Sullivan Dorman and Bryan Dorman were married on December 9, 1994. The union produced one child, a son, Ryan Scott Dorman, born June 4, 1995. On November 1, 1996, Bryan filed for divorce from Jackie on the grounds of adultery, habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, and irreconcilable differences. Bryan sought, inter alia, primary custody of the minor child and child support from Jackie, an equitable division of marital property, and attorney's fees. Jackie filed her answer and cross-complaint for divorce on November 11, 1996. In her pleadings, Jackie sought divorce from Bryan on the same three grounds as Bryan alleged in his petition, and she sought the same relief as Bryan. The chancellor conducted a hearing for pendente lite relief regarding the custody and support of the minor child and placed the child in the temporary custody of Jackie. Bryan was granted visitation for three day intervals every seven days.1 In addition, Bryan was ordered to pay temporary child support in the amount of $75 per month.

¶ 3. Subsequently, a two day trial on the merits was conducted on May 29, 1997 and November 24, 1997. After the first day of trial on May 29, 1997, the chancellor, in a July 11, 1997 order, found that neither Jackie nor Bryan was entitled to a divorce because both had engaged in adulterous affairs, and he found that based on their personal conduct, specifically their use of drugs, that neither Jackie nor Bryan was fit to have custody of the minor child. On

737 So.2d 429
August 5, 1997, the minor child's paternal grandparents moved to intervene in the action, seeking custody of the minor child based on the chancellor's July 11, 1997 order. On August 31, 1997, the minor child's maternal grandparents filed pleadings seeking to deny the paternal grandparents' motion to intervene and requesting that they be allowed to intervene and be awarded custody of the minor child. After the second day of trial, the chancellor issued an order on December 10, 1997, awarding custody of the minor child to the paternal grandparents with reasonable visitation rights for the maternal grandparents and no visitation rights for Jackie. Subsequent to this order, the chancellor issued another order on December 29, 1997, requiring both Jackie and Bryan to pay $100 per month in support of the minor child to the custodial grandparents. From these actions by the chancellor flowed this appeal

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 4. 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 (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 (Miss.Ct.App.1998) (citing Bowers Window & Door Co., Inc. v. Dearman, 549 So.2d 1309 (Miss.1989)). Further, the polestar consideration in child custody decisions is the best interest and welfare of the child. Whittington v. Whittington, 724 So.2d 922, 924 (Miss.Ct.App.1998) (citing Albright v. Albright, 437 So.2d 1003, 1005 (Miss.1983)).

ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF LAW

Issue I: Denial of Divorce

¶ 5. Jackie's first assignment of error alleges that the chancellor erred in denying her a divorce on the grounds of adultery and habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. After review of the record, the briefs of both parties, and the applicable precedents, we reverse and remand for further findings of fact and conclusions of law as set forth below.

¶ 6. We begin with the general rule that a chancellor's denial of a divorce will not be disturbed on appeal absent our determination that the lower court was manifestly wrong as to law or fact. Benson v. Benson, 608 So.2d 709, 710 (Miss. 1992) (citing Chaffin v. Chaffin, 437 So.2d 384 (Miss.1983)). But, the chancellor's failure to articulate sufficiently specific findings of fact and conclusions of law may in itself constitute manifest error. See generally Sandlin v. Sandlin, 699 So.2d 1198, 1204 (Miss.1997).

¶ 7. Turning to Jackie's faultbased grounds for a divorce, we first address her adultery claim. Our statutory law provides that adultery is a valid ground for dissolving the matrimonial bonds with two exceptions: where it appears the adulterous activity was done in collusion to gain a divorce or unless the parties cohabited after the ascertaining knowledge of the...

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10 practice notes
  • Patrick v. Boyd, No. 2014–CA–01266–COA.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 2016
    ...chancellor did not apply Grant's clear-and-convincing-evidence standard.” Therefore, I would reverse and remand. See Dorman v. Dorman, 737 So.2d 426, 431 (¶ 11) (Miss.Ct.App.1999) (“While we do not require so-called ‘magic words,’ we do require enough words indicative of the basis for the c......
  • Jordan v. Jordan, No. 2005-CA-01834-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • August 14, 2007
    ...ruling, we must have before us in the record the basis for its ruling. Only then can we pass judgment on that ruling. Dorman v. Dorman, 737 So.2d 426, 431(¶ 12) ¶ 30. The chancellor cited Drumright v. Drumright, 812 So.2d 1021, 1026(¶ 9) (Miss.Ct.App.2001), for the proposition that in deter......
  • Hoskins v. Hoskins, No. 2008-CA-01369-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • November 10, 2009
    ...divorce unless we determine that the chancery court was "manifestly wrong as to law or fact" or abused its discretion. Dorman v. Dorman, 737 So.2d 426, 429(¶ 6) (Miss.Ct.App.1999). We review questions of law de novo. Kumar v. Kumar, 976 So.2d 957, 961(¶ 13) I. Whether the chancellor erred i......
  • Ford v. State, No. 98-KA-00444-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • February 23, 1999
    ...believed the State's witnesses, and convicted Ford. ¶ 9. The testimony of Shanta Lucas was ample evidence to support the jury's finding 737 So.2d 426 that Ford was guilty of burglary of an occupied dwelling. Lucas testified that the doors and windows were locked when she went to sleep. She ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Patrick v. Boyd, No. 2014–CA–01266–COA.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 2016
    ...chancellor did not apply Grant's clear-and-convincing-evidence standard.” Therefore, I would reverse and remand. See Dorman v. Dorman, 737 So.2d 426, 431 (¶ 11) (Miss.Ct.App.1999) (“While we do not require so-called ‘magic words,’ we do require enough words indicative of the basis for the c......
  • Jordan v. Jordan, No. 2005-CA-01834-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • August 14, 2007
    ...ruling, we must have before us in the record the basis for its ruling. Only then can we pass judgment on that ruling. Dorman v. Dorman, 737 So.2d 426, 431(¶ 12) ¶ 30. The chancellor cited Drumright v. Drumright, 812 So.2d 1021, 1026(¶ 9) (Miss.Ct.App.2001), for the proposition that in deter......
  • Hoskins v. Hoskins, No. 2008-CA-01369-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • November 10, 2009
    ...divorce unless we determine that the chancery court was "manifestly wrong as to law or fact" or abused its discretion. Dorman v. Dorman, 737 So.2d 426, 429(¶ 6) (Miss.Ct.App.1999). We review questions of law de novo. Kumar v. Kumar, 976 So.2d 957, 961(¶ 13) I. Whether the chancellor erred i......
  • Ford v. State, No. 98-KA-00444-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • February 23, 1999
    ...believed the State's witnesses, and convicted Ford. ¶ 9. The testimony of Shanta Lucas was ample evidence to support the jury's finding 737 So.2d 426 that Ford was guilty of burglary of an occupied dwelling. Lucas testified that the doors and windows were locked when she went to sleep. She ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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