McKee v. McKee, 53212

Decision Date28 July 1982
Docket NumberNo. 53212,53212
Citation418 So.2d 764
PartiesJohn B. McKEE, Jr. v. Mary Greenway McKEE.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Kay Farese Luckett, Luckett, Luckett, Luckett & Thompson, Clarksdale, John B. Farese, Ashland, for appellant.

Frank W. Hunger, Lake, Tindall, Hunger & Thackston, Greenville, Lucius E. Burch, Jr., Memphis, Tenn., for appellee.


PATTERSON, Chief Justice, for the Court:

Mary Greenway McKee was granted a divorce from John B. McKee, Jr., by the Chancery Court of Coahoma County. The decree included alimony, custody of the minor children, attorneys fees and expenses for Mrs. McKee. The only issues on appeal by Mr. McKee concern the monetary awards of alimony and attorneys fees.

The parties were married in 1959 and have four children, two of whom were minors at the time of trial. Although Mrs. McKee received a college degree before her marriage, she has not worked outside the home since that time. The testimony is without contradiction that the appellee has been a good mother and representative of her family, participating actively in church, educational, and other community activities. The record reveals that Mrs. McKee has virtually no assets or income, while her husband, during the course of the marriage, has acquired large land holdings through a partnership with his sister. (Even the family home was owned by this partnership.) He also conducts extensive farming operations through this partnership and other corporations. The evidence indicated his net worth to be in excess of $12,000,000.

Mrs. McKee alleged adultery and cruel and inhuman treatment as the basis for her divorce suit. The respondent's pleadings admitted the grounds alleged for divorce and the proof amply supported the allegations. Therefore, Mrs. McKee's entitlement to a divorce and to alimony is unquestioned on appeal. Only the amount and time of payment of the alimony award as well as the amount of attorneys fees are at issue on appeal. The trial court awarded Mrs. McKee a lump sum alimony of $1,250,000, with $150,000 payable on entry of the final decree and the remainder payable in 90 days. She was given use of a Cadillac automobile that was in her possession and furniture and appliances admitted at trial as belonging to her. In addition Mrs. McKee was to remove herself from the parties' residence and deliver possession to the appellant within 90 days of entry of the final decree. Attorneys fees of $56,350 and expenses in the amount of $19,220.86 were awarded Mrs. McKee. A lien was placed on all of the real estate in Coahoma County in which the appellant had an interest in order to secure payment of the above amounts.

This Court has repeatedly stated that the manner and amount of alimony awards are peculiarly and primarily matters for decision by the trial court. E.g. Aldridge v. Aldridge, 200 Miss. 874, 27 So.2d 884 (1946). In the case of Jenkins v. Jenkins, 278 So.2d 446 (Miss.1973), we stated:

As long ago as 1856 in the divorce case of Armstrong v. Armstrong, 32 Miss. 279, we stated with regard to support for the wife:

There appears to be no fixed rule upon this subject, but it depends upon the discretion of the court, to be exercised with reference to an equitable view of all the circumstances of the particular case, the only general rule being, that the wife is entitled to a support corresponding to her rank and condition in life, and the estate of her husband. These principles are recognized by our statute, which provides, that the court may make such allowance "as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case may be fit, equitable, and just." ... (32 Miss. at 290).

278 So.2d at 449-450.

In the present case, we are of the opinion the trial court's determination of a lump sum award of $1,250,000 was not manifestly wrong or against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. There was sufficient evidence that the parties were accustomed to an affluent life style, and, moreover, the proof of the appellant's financial status reveals that his assets were ample to comply with the award without undue burden on himself. However, we do think in view of the large award that the time for payment should be lengthened so as to prevent any likelihood of an oppressive liquidation of assets to meet the judgment. We therefore affirm the chancellor's award of $1,250,000 in lump sum. We hold, however, that $250,000, less any sums that may have been paid on the award, should be paid on the entry of the judgment and mandate of this court. The remaining $1,000,000 to be paid within ninety days, unless the appellant desires additional time, and in that event, not to exceed one year from this judgment. If additional time is requested the unpaid portion shall be subject to interest at the statutory 1 rate for the extended time.

The appellant also contends that the trial court erred in the award of attorneys fees. We are persuaded by this contention, finding the award of attorneys fees not supported by the evidence and excessive. The appellee, Mrs. McKee, contacted an attorney in Memphis, Tennessee, to institute divorce proceedings against her husband....

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  • Ferguson v. Ferguson, 92-CA-00058
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 7, 1994
    ...fees should not be awarded by the court."). The criteria to be utilized in determining attorney fees are found in McKee v. McKee, 418 So.2d 764, 767 (Miss.1982). was an abuse of the chancellor's discretion because there was no proof as to the financial ability of Billy to pay an attorney fe......
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