Stephens v. Stephens (Mississippi 2021)

2019-CA-01421-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 2021)
August 2021

To modify a child support order, there must be a substantial and material change not anticipated at the time of the original order. To contest a contempt finding, the parent must show evidence of the inability to pay. The parents in this case divorced and the final decree reflected their agreement as to child support and uncovered medical expenses. The mother subsequently filed numerous petitions for contempt, all of which ended in a contempt finding. This appeal consolidates the father’s appeal of the two latest orders. The chancery court denied his request for modification and found him in contempt. The court of appeals affirmed both orders. The chancery court properly denied his request to modify. The father claimed a decrease in income, but he had voluntarily left his job. Evidence showed his standard of living hadn’t changed even though he claimed less income. The contempt finding was also correct. The father argued he shouldn’t have been found in contempt as he had filed to modify his support. The appellate court noted his modification filing wasn’t timely and he provided no evidence of his inability to pay.