FROM THE RANDOLPH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 61DR-18-11],
HONORABLE TIMOTHY F. WATSON, JUDGE
Mixon & Heller, P.A., Jonesboro, by: Haley Smith and W. Lance
Owens, for appellant.
Thompson, Arnold, Skinner & Castleberry, by: Kenneth P.
"Casey" Castleberry, El Dorado; and Grider Law
Firm, PLC, Pocahontas, by: M. Joseph Grider, for appellee.
T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Appellant Joshua Mayland appeals a divorce decree entered by
the Randolph County Circuit Court granting an absolute
divorce to appellee Kayla Mayland on the ground of general
indignities. Joshua argues that the circuit court erred in
three respects: (1) granting Kaylas counterclaim for divorce
because the grounds for divorce were not corroborated; (2)
refusing to allow Joshua to call witnesses as a discovery
sanction; and (3) placing primary custody of the couples
child, M.M., with Kayla. We find merit in Joshuas first
argument on appeal.
conduct a de novo review in appeals from decrees of divorce.
Rocconi v. Rocconi, 88 Ark.App. 175, 196 S.W.3d 499
(2004). Under our standard of review, this court will not
reverse the circuit courts findings unless they are clearly
erroneous. Id. A finding is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court
on the entire evidence is left with a definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been made. Id.
and Kayla married in November 2015. They are the parents of
one child, M.M., born in April 2017. Joshua was the first to
seek marital dissolution, filing a
complaint for divorce that alleged general indignities as
grounds and sought custody of M.M. Kayla answered Joshuas
complaint and also counterclaimed for divorce on the ground
of general indignities; she urged that custody of M.M. be
placed with her. The circuit court held a hearing on the
complaint and the counterclaim and subsequently entered an
order finding that Kayla was entitled to an absolute divorce
from Joshua on the ground of general indignities. The court
awarded Kayla custody of M.M. and granted Joshua
first point on appeal, Joshua argues that the circuit court
erred in granting Kaylas counterclaim for divorce because
she failed to corroborate her statutory grounds. Given the
facts before the circuit court and the law of our state, we
sought a divorce on the ground of general
indignities. To prevail on this ground, Kayla had
to prove that Joshua offered such indignities to her as to
render her condition in life intolerable. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-12-301(b)(3)(C) (Repl. 2015). We have held that mere
uncongeniality and quarrelsomeness, without more, are not
sufficient to sustain a charge of indignities. Lundy v.
Lundy, 2014 Ark.App. 573, 445 S.W.3d 518. On the other
hand, we have recognized that personal indignities may
consist of "rudeness, unmerited reproach, contempt,
studied neglect, open insult and other plain manifestations
of settled hate, alienation or estrangement so habitually,
continuously and permanently pursued as to create that
intolerable condition contemplated by the statute."
Pomraning v. Pomraning, 13 Ark.App. 258, 260, 682
S.W.2d 775, 776 (1985) (citing Copeland v. Copeland,
2 Ark.App. 55, 616 S.W.2d 773 (1981)).
Arkansas law, not only did Kayla have to prove entitlement to
dissolution on the ground of general indignities, but she
also had to corroborate her grounds. Our supreme court has
spoken on this subject. In Olson v. Olson, 2014 Ark.
537, 453 S.W.3d 128, the supreme court held that divorce is a
creature of statute and can be granted only when statutory
grounds have been proved and corroborated. In Coker v.
Coker, 2012 Ark. 383, 423 S.W.3d 599, the supreme court
held that evidence of the grounds for divorce must be
corroborated but that the evidence of corroboration need only
be slight when a divorce case is sharply contested, and it is
not necessary that the testimony of the complaining spouse be
corroborated on every element or essential fact. We have
held, however, that testimony by the plaintiff and
corroborating witnesses that is merely general or conclusory
in nature is not sufficient. Lundy, supra. In
addition, both our supreme courts opinions and our statutory
law recognize only one exception to corroboration in
contested matters: a waiver of corroboration. Id. ;
Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-306 (Repl. 2015).
instant case, Kayla failed to offer a waiver of corroboration
from Joshua; therefore, she was required to present
corroborating evidence of her grounds for the circuit court
to grant her counterclaim for divorce. Apart from her own
testimony concerning the personal indignities ...