Monroe v. Monroe, No. 91-CA-997

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBefore ROY NOBLE LEE; PITTMAN; Ervin; ROY NOBLE LEE; ROBERTS
Citation612 So.2d 353
Decision Date17 December 1992
Docket NumberNo. 91-CA-997
PartiesRebecca MONROE v. James MONROE.

Page 353

612 So.2d 353
Rebecca MONROE
v.
James MONROE.
No. 91-CA-997.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Dec. 17, 1992.

Page 354

Roger H. McMillin, Jr., Sumners Carter & McMillin, New Albany, for appellant.

Pamela Loftin Hall and Michael Malski, Carnathan & Malski, Amory, for appellee.

Before ROY NOBLE LEE, C.J., and SULLIVAN and PITTMAN, JJ.

PITTMAN, Justice, for the court:

The Appellant, Rebecca Monroe, was awarded a divorce on the grounds of desertion. By mutual agreement, custody of the two minor children was granted to the natural father, James (Jim) Monroe. Pursuant to the divorce, the Chancellor awarded Rebecca Monroe $12,000 in lump sum alimony. Following the divorce, Rebecca experienced bouts with mental illness, and was committed to Charter Hospital for care. Rebecca's attorney filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the chancellor. After considering the circumstances of this case, we find that the chancellor abused his discretion in failing to award Rebecca Monroe any periodic alimony.

I.

Jim Monroe and Rebecca Webb Monroe were married on August 21, 1970 in Brandon, Mississippi. Both being recent college graduates, the couple moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to enable Jim to attend Southwest Theological Seminary. Jim had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Mississippi College, and was interested in a counseling curriculum at the Seminary in Fort Worth. Rebecca supported the family by working as a teacher's assistant there for the year. However, when Christmas came, Jim decided that the counseling program was not for him. After expressing his desire to attend medical school, Jim was told that he needed to improve his undergraduate grades. The Monroes moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, so that Jim could attend the University of Southern Mississippi.

Once in Hattiesburg, Rebecca obtained a teaching position at Oak Grove High School, and the couple moved into student housing on the USM campus. Since their marriage, Rebecca supported the couple on her teacher's salary. Following a year of teaching at Oak Grove High School, Rebecca worked at the Small Business Administration for the summer, before accepting a teaching position at Prentiss High School for the next year. Rebecca made this ninety mile commute each day for three years. Jim, while enrolled as a full time student,

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was employed as a student worker on campus, working at the greenhouse and occasionally washing dishes.

After five and a half years at USM, Jim was accepted into the Kansas City College of Osteopath Medicine in 1976. The Monroe's moved to Independence, Missouri, where Rebecca got a teaching position in the Grandview Public School System, some twenty-five miles away. While in medical school, Jim was awarded a public health scholarship, which paid for his tuition and books, as well as giving him a $400 stipend to be used for living expenses. This scholarship is given to individuals who agree to work in rural environments following graduation in lieu of repaying the government for the student loans. The Monroe's were able to live in a subsidized townhouse system, with an initial cost of $800. When the Monroe's moved out, they were refunded $1,500. The first year of medical school proved difficult for Jim, and the school requested that he repeat his first year. It therefore took Jim five years to graduate from medical school.

While Jim was enrolled in medical school, Rebecca was working three jobs to support the family. Besides her teaching position, both she and Jim worked for their church performing custodial tasks on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Finally, Rebecca worked with children after school each day in an arts and crafts program. The money she received from the arts and craft program, which was about $100 a month, was used as her "pin" money. Rebecca used this "pin" money to buy gifts, furnishings, and pay for some graduate school courses in literature. Rebecca stopped teaching in 1980 when she became pregnant with their first child, Anna. At that time, Jim had one and a half years remaining in medical school.

While Jim was in medical school, Rebecca withdrew money set aside for her retirement, which amounted to $200 from the Mississippi Retirement System and $5,000 from the Missouri Retirement System. This money was deposited in a savings account which covered overdrafts from the Monroe's checking account. By the end of medical school, the savings account had been entirely depleted.

Upon graduation in May, 1981, Jim accepted an eighteen month internship in Battle Creek, Michigan, paying $25,000 a year. After his internship was completed in December, 1982, the family moved to Smithville, Mississippi, wherein Jim accepted employment as a physician with Three Rivers Health Care, Inc. at a starting salary of $54,000. The Monroes were provided with a rent-free house in which they lived for two and a half months before finding a place of their own. The Monroes had another daughter, Sarah in 1983, nine months after moving to Smithville. After having settled in Smithville, the Monroes purchased life insurance policies and began to accumulate savings averaging between $1,500 and $5,000. They soon purchased twenty acres of land nearby, which they had titled jointly.

On August 7, 1987, Rebecca was admitted into Charter Hospital in Jackson for treatment of emotional and psychological problems. Her stay there lasted until September 4, 1987, incurring $9,000 in medical bills. Approximately ten days after her admittance to Charter, Jim brought a deed to the jointly held twenty acres, which he asked Rebecca to sign, to allow him to sell the property and use some of the proceeds to pay her medical bills. Rebecca executed this deed and the property was sold for $20,000. Jim paid Rebecca's $9,000 medical expenses and kept the rest of the money, stating that he paid off the remaining $3,000-4,000 mortgage on the property. Five days after signing the deed, Jim visited Rebecca in the hospital and the subject of divorce was first discussed.

There was another instance while Rebecca was in the hospital where Jim tried to get Rebecca to sign a document giving up her claim to any of Jim's pension benefits. However, even in her vulnerable condition, she refused to sign the document. On the day of Rebecca's release, September 4, 1987, Jim informed her that he wanted a divorce and that she need not return home to Smithville, but should go live with her mother in Brandon. He later left all of her

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clothes in the hospital waiting room. Rebecca stated that the savings account, checking account, and credit cards had been changed to Jim's name only, thereby denying her access to their use. Rebecca moved to Brandon and lived with her mother.

Jim gave Rebecca $200 that day, and sent the same amount each week. In March, 1988, Rebecca received a letter from Jim stating his intention to stop supporting her as of August, 1989. However, this support stopped in March, 1989. Rebecca did not receive any further support until she was awarded temporary alimony in the amount of $550 a month. During this separation period, both daughters...

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14 practice notes
  • Crowe v. Crowe, No. 91-CA-0553
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 4, 1994
    ...such as estimated amount of income taxes, the use of the family home or automobile, and the payment of insurance. Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353 (Miss.1992); Boykin v. Boykin, 565 So.2d 1109, 1111 (Miss.1990); McNally v. McNally, 516 So.2d 499, 501 (Miss.1987); Skinner v. Skinner, 509 So.2......
  • Magee v. Magee, No. 93-CA-00512-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 28, 1995
    ...where the decision is seen to be oppressive, unjust or grossly inadequate so as to evidence an abuse of discretion." Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353, 357 (Miss.1992). Although there is a distinction between alimony and retirement benefits, it is now settled that Pete's pension and 401K moni......
  • Turpin v. Turpin, No. 93-CA-01372-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 4, 1997
    ...where the decision is seen to be oppressive, unjust or grossly inadequate so as to evidence an abuse of discretion." Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353, 357 Magee v. Magee, 661 So.2d 1117, 1124 (Miss.1995) ¶15 As was stated in Draper v. Draper 627 So.2d 302, 304, 305 (Miss.1993): A chancellor'......
  • Bland v. Bland, No. 91-CA-1157
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 9, 1993
    ...ability of Page 588 the husband to pay." Both parties should be allowed "to maintain a 'decent standard of living.' " Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353, 357 The chancellor's finding regarding the lump sum alimony was that Elaine had abandoned a good job with a future of owning an interest in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Crowe v. Crowe, No. 91-CA-0553
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • August 4, 1994
    ...such as estimated amount of income taxes, the use of the family home or automobile, and the payment of insurance. Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353 (Miss.1992); Boykin v. Boykin, 565 So.2d 1109, 1111 (Miss.1990); McNally v. McNally, 516 So.2d 499, 501 (Miss.1987); Skinner v. Skinner, 509 So.2......
  • Magee v. Magee, No. 93-CA-00512-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 28, 1995
    ...where the decision is seen to be oppressive, unjust or grossly inadequate so as to evidence an abuse of discretion." Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353, 357 (Miss.1992). Although there is a distinction between alimony and retirement benefits, it is now settled that Pete's pension and 401K moni......
  • Turpin v. Turpin, No. 93-CA-01372-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 4, 1997
    ...where the decision is seen to be oppressive, unjust or grossly inadequate so as to evidence an abuse of discretion." Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353, 357 Magee v. Magee, 661 So.2d 1117, 1124 (Miss.1995) ¶15 As was stated in Draper v. Draper 627 So.2d 302, 304, 305 (Miss.1993): A chancellor'......
  • Bland v. Bland, No. 91-CA-1157
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 9, 1993
    ...ability of Page 588 the husband to pay." Both parties should be allowed "to maintain a 'decent standard of living.' " Monroe v. Monroe, 612 So.2d 353, 357 The chancellor's finding regarding the lump sum alimony was that Elaine had abandoned a good job with a future of owning an interest in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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