Jenkins v. Robert Wayne Jenkins Jr.

Decision Date21 June 2011
Docket NumberNo. 2010–CA–00129–COA.,2010–CA–00129–COA.
Citation67 So.3d 5
PartiesSusan Kristine (Gregory) JENKINS, Appellantv.Robert Wayne JENKINS Jr., Appellee.
CourtMississippi Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Terry L. Caves, Laurel, attorney for appellant.Thomas T. Buchanan, Laurel, John D. Smallwood, attorneys for appellee.Before GRIFFIS, P.J., MYERS and CARLTON, JJ.CARLTON, J., for the Court:

¶ 1. Susan Kristine Gregory Jenkins (Kris) appeals the judgment of the Jones County Chancery Court, which granted her an irreconcilable-differences divorce from her husband, Robert Wayne Jenkins Jr. (Bobby). Aggrieved with the chancellor's property division, Kris appeals. Finding no abuse of discretion by the chancellor, we affirm.

FACTS

¶ 2. Bobby and Kris were married on November 18, 1999,1 and separated on April 5, 2007. On April 11, 2007, Bobby filed for divorce in the Jones County Chancery Court alleging irreconcilable differences. Shortly thereafter, Bobby filed an amended complaint wherein he sought a divorce on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment or, in the alternative, irreconcilable differences. On June 11, 2007, Bobby and Kris entered into an agreed temporary order.2 Then, on January 7, 2008, Kris filed an answer to Bobby's amended complaint for divorce denying: that she exhibited cruel and inhuman treatment toward Bobby and that irreconcilable differences existed between the parties. Thereafter, Kris propounded discovery upon Bobby. Bobby then moved to quash Kris's discovery and requested that the court enter a protective order finding that Kris's discovery was propounded in a delinquent manner and outside the time period specified by the Uniform Chancery Court Rules. The Jones County Chancery Court entered a judgment granting Bobby's motion to quash Kris's propounded discovery and allowing Bobby's motion for a protective order. Kris then filed a motion in limine on June 11, 2009, requesting that the court hold any and all distribution of marital assets until it had sufficient information and documentation to aid the court in determining what were the marital assets, what the basis was for each asset, and the fair market value of any asset or debt.3 On that same day, Bobby and Kris filed a joint motion requesting that the court grant a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, leaving the contested issues of identifying and dividing the couple's marital assets and debts for the court to resolve. The chancellor then conducted a trial on these contested matters.

¶ 3. At trial, Bobby testified that he was self-employed, prior to and at the time of his marriage to Kris. Bobby testified that in 1986, he founded and was the sole-owner of Mid–Mississippi Sales and Service, Inc. Bobby also testified that in 1993, he founded Industrial Steel Corporation with one partner and obtained a forty-nine percent ownership interest in the company.

¶ 4. Kris testified that she worked as a nurse at Laurel Bone & Joint Clinic from the time of the marriage until August 2006. Kris testified that, in addition to her nursing career, she took care of Bobby's daughter, Michelle, who lived with them for two or three years; and she maintained the couple's home, tending to the cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping. Kris further testified that she left Laurel Bone & Joint Clinic due to a cervical disc rupture, and after she took a period of time off to rehabilitate her cervical disc, she worked at Wesley Medical Center.4 Kris testified that after she began work at Wesley Medical Center, she temporarily left to seek treatment for severe depression. Kris testified that her employers at Wesley Medical Center told her that she would be eligible for rehire after she received treatment for her depression and completed an intensive out-patient program for substance abuse. Kris testified that during the time that she was attending the out-patient program, she sustained a fall while visiting a friend in Jackson and had to undergo surgery on her shoulder and rotator cuffs, which ultimately prevented her from being able to perform her nursing duties. Kris testified that she filed an application for social security disability benefits in November 2008, but it was still pending at the time of trial.

¶ 5. Bobby and Kris testified that until their separation in 2007, they lived in a home on 175 acres that Bobby paid for and owned prior to the marriage.5 Bobby testified that improvements toward the property were made during the marriage, including fencing and the construction of a barn, and that he purchased farm equipment for the property. Bobby also testified that he purchased cattle and horses during the marriage. Bobby testified that he also owned 3.8 acres of real property in Forest, Mississippi, at the time of marriage.6 Bobby also testified that he purchased 240 acres of real property in Jones County on or about April 18, 2007, using funds from the couple's joint checking account to make a partial payment toward the purchase price, and financed the balance.

¶ 6. The record reflects that Bobby and Kris shared the responsibility of managing the couple's finances during the marriage. Bobby testified that he possessed his own separate checking account, which he used to pay the couple's taxes and insurance, the home's maintenance and improvements, and vacation expenses. Bobby and Kris testified that they also had a joint checking account which was used for household expenses. Bobby and Kris further testified that Kris contributed a portion 7 of her salary to their joint checking account each month, and she placed the remainder of her salary into her retirement account.

¶ 7. After the trial, the chancellor granted the divorce, classified the couple's separate and marital property, then equitably divided and distributed the marital assets. Dissatisfied, Kris filed her motion for reconsideration on November 10, 2009, and her amended motion for reconsideration on November 13, 2009. After a hearing on Kris's motion, the chancellor denied Kris's motion for reconsideration. Feeling aggrieved, Kris appeals and raises the following issues for the Court's review: whether the chancellor committed reversible error in his division of the marital assets and marital debts; whether the chancellor committed reversible error in his determination of the fair market value of the marital assets; and whether the chancellor committed reversible error in his determination of the valuation date for the division of marital property.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 8. This Court's standard of review regarding property division and distribution in divorce cases is a limited one. Oswalt v. Oswalt, 981 So.2d 993, 996 (¶ 11) (Miss.Ct.App.2007) (citing Reddell v. Reddell, 696 So.2d 287, 288 (Miss.1997)). “A chancellor's division and distribution will be upheld if it is supported by substantial credible evidence. However, this Court will not hesitate to reverse if it finds the chancellor's decision is manifestly wrong, or that the court applied an erroneous legal standard.” Id. (citing Carrow v. Carrow, 642 So.2d 901, 904 (Miss.1994)).

DISCUSSION

I. Did the chancellor commit reversible error in his division of the marital property?

¶ 9. Kris argues that the chancellor committed reversible error in his division of the marital assets and marital debts. Specifically, Kris argues that the chancellor erred: by finding that only the appreciation of the homestead property was subject to equitable division; by classifying Industrial Steel Corporation and the 3.8 acres of land as non-marital assets; by failing to consider Kris's total disability and health condition at the time of trial; and by inadequately dividing all of the marital assets and marital debts.

¶ 10. “When attempting to equitably divide property at issue in a divorce, the chancellor should first classify the parties' assets as marital or non-marital based on Hemsley v. Hemsley, 639 So.2d 909 (Miss.1994).” Boutwell v. Boutwell, 829 So.2d 1216, 1221 (¶ 19) (Miss.2002). The Mississippi Supreme Court held in Hemsley that [a]ssets acquired or accumulated during the course of a marriage are subject to equitable division unless it can be shown by proof that such assets are attributable to one of the parties' separate estates prior to the marriage or outside the marriage.” Hemsley, 639 So.2d at 914. Thus, the chancellor may equitably divide only the property that is deemed marital property. Curry v. Curry, 45 So.3d 724, 726 (¶ 8) (Miss.Ct.App.2010) (citing Messer v. Messer, 850 So.2d 161, 167 (¶ 24) (Miss.Ct.App.2003)).

¶ 11. “After classifying the parties' assets as either marital or non-marital, the chancellor should then proceed to equitably divide the property using the factors set forth by the supreme court in Ferguson v. Ferguson, 639 So.2d 921, 928 (Miss.1994).” Curry, 45 So.3d at 726 (¶ 9). Lastly, the chancellor should determine “whether the equitable division of the marital property, considered in light of the non-marital assets, adequately provides for both parties. If the distribution of the parties' assets, including any separate property, fails to adequately provide for the parties, the chancellor then considers whether to award alimony to one of the parties.” Id. at 727 (¶ 9) (internal citations omitted).8

¶ 12. While considering the above-stated guidelines, we now turn to a review of the property division and distribution in the case at hand. The record contains the chancellor's order dividing and distributing the marital property. The chancellor provided as follows:

Division of marital assets is governed under the law as stated in Hemsley v. Hemsley, 639 So.2d 909 (Miss.1994) and Ferguson v. Ferguson, 639 So.2d 921 (Miss.1994).

First, the character of the parties['] assets, i.e., marital or non-marital, must be determined pursuant to Hemsley and subsequent cases. The property determined to be marital is then equitably divided, employing the Ferguson factors as guidelines.

Assets acquired during the course of a marriage...

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