Herrin v. Perkins (Mississippi 2019)

No. 2018-CA-00868-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 2019)
August 2019

A parent should object to the sufficiency of a contempt pleading at trial. The father and mother agreed to visitation and amounts for current and back child support for their child and a judgment for the mother’s attorney fees. A year later, the mother filed a contempt petition. The petition included the amounts due for arrears and the judgment for attorney’s fees. The father answered the petition and counterclaimed for modification, but requested no further information about the arrearage amount. The hearing was continued several times. At the hearing, the father testified that a child from another relationship had come to live with him, and he had gone back to school to train for a higher paying job. The Chancery Court found that good intentions aside, the father was in contempt. However, the Court modified his current support for six months. The father appealed, arguing the petition should have set out each instance of contempt. The appellate court upheld the order, finding that the father made no argument about the sufficiency of the petition during the trial. He didn’t conduct discovery or make a motion to dismiss. Since the issue wasn’t raised at trial, the appellate court had to review the order against the plain error standard of review. The Chancery Court didn’t incorrectly apply a law, so the order was affirmed.