Garrison v. Courtney (Mississippi 2020)

No. 2019-CA-0053-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 2020)
September 2020

Service in a contempt proceeding must provide the parent with due process and cannot be waived. The failure to pay support as ordered is prima facie evidence of contempt. The parents filed for divorce. The chancery court entered a temporary order for custody and child support. Mid-proceeding, the mother filed a contempt motion for father’s failure to pay support. The chancery court heard this motion in conjunction with the already scheduled divorce trial. In the final order, the chancery court found the father in contempt. The father appealed several provisions of the final order, including the contempt finding. The father argued he wasn’t given proper notice of the contempt motion and the contempt finding was an error. The chancery court affirmed, finding the father waived his notice argument and the merits supported the contempt finding. The father argued service of the contempt motion wasn’t completed in the required timeframe. While service wasn’t technically completed within the required timeframe, it was close enough to preserve the father’s right to due process. Significantly, the record contained no evidence of his objection to the notice. The merits supported the contempt finding. The father failed to pay support as ordered and didn’t offer any evidence as to his inability to pay.