Turner v. Turner, 97-CA-01556-COA.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBEFORE KING, P.J., BRIDGES, AND LEE, JJ.
Citation744 So.2d 332
PartiesRichard Edward TURNER, Appellant, v. Bonnie Hawkins TURNER, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 97-CA-01556-COA.,97-CA-01556-COA.
Decision Date08 June 1999

744 So.2d 332

Richard Edward TURNER, Appellant,
Bonnie Hawkins TURNER, Appellee

No. 97-CA-01556-COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

June 8, 1999.

744 So.2d 334
Harlon H. Varnado, Attorney for Appellant

Philip Mansour Jr., Greenville, Attorney for Appellee.


KING, P.J., for the Court:

¶ 1. Richard Edward Turner has appealed from the judgment of the Chancery Court of Humphreys County which ordered him to pay an additional $150 in monthly child support and $1,500 in attorney fees to Bonnie Hawkins Turner. Aggrieved by this judgment, Richard Turner has appealed and raised the following issues, as taken verbatim from his brief:

1. A material change in circumstances has occurred to warrant a reduction in child support and not an increase in child support.
2. Richard should have been given credit for support of his two younger children living in his home.
3. The lower court failed to make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and, further, failed to make a written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the chid support guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in Richard's case.
4. Bonnie's evidence did not substantiate award of her attorney's fees and Bonnie has an estate of her own and is capable of paying her own attorney's fees.


¶ 2. On September 11, 1992, Richard Turner and Bonnie Turner were granted a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences in the Humphreys County Chancery Court. There was one child born of that union, Richard Edward Turner, II. The parties entered into a "Separation, Child Custody, Support and Property Settlement Agreement", which was approved by the chancellor.

¶ 3. The agreement provided, inter alia, that Richard would (1) pay $500 per month in child support; (2) maintain medical insurance for the benefit of the minor child and pay all reasonable medical expenses not covered by insurance; (3) insure his life in an amount not less than $500,000 with the minor child named as beneficiary under said policy; and (4) pay all tuition and tuition-related expenses of the minor child in attending day care, kindergarten, and private schools.

¶ 4. On March 19, 1997, Richard Turner petitioned the Humphreys County Chancery Court to modify the final divorce decree. In his petition, Richard requested the chancery court to, inter alia, (1) reduce his monthly child support obligation in accordance with the child support guidelines; (2) order all reasonable medical, dental, visual, and prescription drug expenses incurred on behalf of the minor child not covered by insurance to be equally divided between the parties; (3) relieve him from paying all tuition and tuition-related expenses of the minor child to attend private school; (4) relieve him of the obligation of carrying life insurance with the minor child as beneficiary and, instead, allow him to establish a trust fund with his three children as equal beneficiaries.

¶ 5. On June 9, 1997, Bonnie Turner answered Richard Turner's motion for modification and filed a cross-complaint for

744 So.2d 335
contempt and modification. In her cross-complaint for modification of the final divorce decree, Bonnie requested the chancellor to increase the child support award, citing "certain material changes ... in the circumstances of the parties" to support such a modification

¶ 6. On September 25, 1997, the chancellor denied Richard Turner's motion for modification on the ground that he failed to demonstrate a material change in circumstances.

¶ 7. The chancellor granted Bonnie Turner's cross-complaint for modification and increased Richard Turner's child support obligation from $500 to $650. The chancellor found a material change in circumstances with respect to Richard Turner's improved financial condition. Further, the chancellor found that "the needs of the minor child ... have increased and that expenses associated with the care and maintenance of said child have also increased." Bonnie Turner was also awarded attorney fees in the amount of $1500.



¶ 8. Richard Turner complains that because his financial earnings and assets have decreased since the rendering of the divorce decree in 1992, the chancellor erred in not reducing his child support obligation. Richard Turner alleges a reduction in monthly income from $2,575 to $2,000 since 1992. The chancellor found that Richard Turner failed to demonstrate "a material change in circumstances that would warrant a modification of the Final Decree of divorce." However, the chancellor granted Bonnie Turner's request for an increase in child support.

¶ 9. Although we agree that the chancellor was correct in denying Richard Turner's request for reduction of child support, we find that the chancellor's grant of an increase in child support does not enjoy support in the record. Therefore, we reverse and remand.

¶ 10. The determination of child support is within the sound discretion of the chancellor. This Court will not disturb a chancellor's determination of child support in the absence of manifest error or an abuse of that discretion. McEwen v. McEwen, 631 So.2d 821, 823 (Miss.1994); Smith v. Smith, 585 So.2d 750, 753 (Miss. 1991).

¶ 11. Support agreements for divorces granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences are subject to modification. Thurman v. Thurman, 559 So.2d 1014, 1017 (Miss.1990). Consequently, as equity demands, the child support provisions agreed to by the parties, are, therefore, subject to modification upon a showing of a material change in circumstances not contemplated at the time of the divorce decree. Lahmann v. Hallmon, 722 So.2d 614, 622 (Miss.1998).

¶ 12. In McEachern v. McEachern, 605 So.2d 809, 813 (Miss.1992), the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the proponent of modification of a financial obligation must establish a material change in circumstances of one or more of the interested parties, either the father, mother, or children, arising subsequently to the rendering of the original decree.

¶ 13. The record reveals the presentation of evidence that Richard Turner voluntarily transferred assets to his new wife. Richard Turner showed no monetary consideration or other basis for this voluntary transfer. While this transfer has decreased his equity or his ownership percentage, Richard Turner apparently receives the benefit of both his share and his...

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11 cases
  • Sturgis v. Sturgis, 1999-CA-00321-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • August 28, 2001
    ...child. However, such changes must be relevant to either the needs of the child and/or the ability to provide support. Turner v. Turner, 744 So.2d 332 (¶ 17) ¶ 10. In the present case, Mrs. Sturgis offered no proof that the minor 792 So.2d 1023 child had needs which were not being met under ......
  • Rhodes v. Rhodes, 2009-CA-00555-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • January 11, 2011
    ...attorney's fees based solely on a wife's testimony that she owed her attorney $500. Powell, 644 So.2d at 276; see also Turner v. Turner, 744 So.2d 332, 338-39 (¶¶ 29-33) (Miss.Ct.App.1999) (reversing attorney's-fees award that was based solely on the testimony of a litigant that he owed $1,......
  • Wallace v. Wallace, 2006-CA-00035-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • September 11, 2007
    ...costs and that the original award, due to increased financial obligations, no longer meets the child's current needs. Turner v. Turner, 744 So.2d 332, 336(¶ 17) (Miss.Ct. App.1999). Additionally, the Mississippi Supreme Court has held that a child's decision to attend college may be conside......
  • Staggs v. Staggs, No. 2004-CA-00443-COA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • May 24, 2005
    ...at the purchasing power of the existing child support award that it no longer meets the needs of the child. Turner v. Turner, 744 So.2d 332, 336(¶ 17) (Miss.Ct.App.1999). "This may be done by showing a significant increase in the cost of goods or services or by a specific showing of needs n......
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