[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, CHICKASAWBA
DISTRICT [NO. 47BDR-17-189], HONORABLE RANDY F. PHILHOURS,
& Thomas, P.A., by: Jeremy M. Thomas, Blytheville, for
Connealy Law Firm, by: Michaelene Connealy, for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, Judge
Michael Deline appeals his divorce decree in the Mississippi
County Circuit Court, arguing in five points that the trial
court erred by (1) denying his motion for continuance; (2)
restricting his visitation rights; (3) setting child support;
(4) awarding spousal support to appellee Jaime Deline; and
(5) awarding attorneys fees to Jaime. We affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
parties were married on June 25, 2009, and they have one
daughter, EA, who was born later the same year. Jaime filed a
complaint for divorce on July 11, 2017, seeking sole custody
of EA, restricted visitation rights for Michael, child
support, spousal support, and certain property. On July 18,
Michael answered and counterclaimed for divorce, custody, and
child support, and he alleged that Jaime had wrongfully
obtained an ex parte order of protection against him and that
he had not had visitation since that time. By separate
order, an attorney ad litem was appointed to represent EA.
temporary hearing was held August 4, and the resulting order
was filed October 13. In the order, Jaime was awarded
temporary custody subject to Michaels visitation every other
weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Child support ($691 a month or $160 a week) and spousal
support ($1,114.89 a month or $257.48 a week) were awarded to
Jaime based on Michaels monthly income of $5,000. The
parties were enjoined from discussing "this matter"
with EA and from making any disparaging remarks about the
other in EAs presence. Further, they were enjoined from
"post[ing] or otherwise display[ing] any information
matter by way of social media. [Michael] shall remove any
content regarding [Jaime] or [her] son, Douglas, previously
posted or otherwise displayed by way of social media."
Michael was also ordered to remove Jaimes cellular phone
from his "service" as soon as possible.
Michael moved to modify the order on October 11, alleging
that the child-support and spousal-support obligations were
ordered when he was employed by his mothers
temporary-employment agency and by his fathers farming
operation. He alleged that he no longer worked for either
parent and that he could not find a job. He asked that both
his support obligations be reduced.
hearing was held on April 24, 2018, and the trial court found
Michael in contempt for violating its previous
orders. He was given a suspended thirty-day
sentence based on his future compliance with the courts
orders. The trial court reinstated Michaels visitation;
ordered Michael to remove all firearms and other weapons
while EA was present for visitation; and did not prohibit
Michael from photographing or videotaping EA "in the
ordinary course of being a parent" but prohibited him
from posting any "photos, videos, audio or any other
matter, involving the minor child, the parties, the
attorneys, the Court, or anything having to do with this
matter" on social media. The trial court warned that a
violation could result in the immediate revocation of
Michaels visitation until a further hearing. The trial court
also ordered that assuming Michael complied with the courts
orders, his visitation would be increased to one day a week
beginning June 1, 2018. Jaime was granted judgment of $2,178
for unpaid child support and $9,526.76 for unpaid spousal
support. Michael was ordered to comply with orders and
"keep current" his support obligations. Michael was
also ordered to enroll in an anger-management program and to
comply with any recommendations.
trial court issued a letter file-marked on June 28, 2018. In
it, the trial court acknowledged receipt of a June 20, 2018
letter from the attorney ad litem that had caused the court
to be "greatly disturbed." As a result of the
allegations in the ad litems letter, the trial court
terminated all visitation between Michael and EA until a
hearing could be held. The trial court also stated that it
would "certainly entertain another contempt matter
against [Michael], which would be heard during the hearing on
the merits, which addresses his violation of a very explicit
court order by way of him discussing this case with the minor
filed a contempt petition on July 12 alleging that Michael
was late in paying child support and that he refused to pay
spousal support. She also alleged that he was in violation of
the trial courts order enjoining them from disposing of
their property because he had spent thousands of dollars on
trips, airfare, donations, memorabilia, and furniture. She
asked that he be ordered to cease his extravagant spending
and to account for his expenses. She also alleged that he had
violated the courts order by discussing the divorce with EA,
making disparaging remarks about Jaime, and posting
information about their divorce on social media. She asked
that Michaels visitation be supervised, that his suspended
sentence be reinstated, and that he be held in contempt.
attorney ad litem also filed a contempt petition on July 19.
This petition alleged that since the April 24, 2018 hearing,
Michael refused to abide by the trial courts rulings. She
alleged that he had continued to discuss the case with EA and
that he had continued to post inflammatory statements about
the attorney ad litem on social media, suggesting that the ad
litem takes money in return for fixing the outcomes of cases.
She asked that he be held in contempt and that his suspended
thirty-day sentence be revoked.
final hearing took place on July 25 and 26, 2018; however,
Michael did not appear on the second day of trial. His
attorney appeared and asked for a continuance because Michael
had reported to him that he nearly "blacked out"
while driving to court that morning due to high blood
pressure and that he had gone to the hospital in Paragould.
The trial court denied the motion and stated that it was
skeptical of Michaels inability to be in court and that the
courts bailiffs had predicted that Michael would use his
alleged blood-pressure issues to evade being in court.
Following the final hearing, Michael moved on August 2 for
the trial court to reconsider his motion for continuance,
arguing that he had experienced high blood pressure and
physical symptoms on the first day of the hearing, and on the
second day, he had a "near syncope" event on his
way to court, causing him to almost crash his vehicle. He
claimed that rather than drive on to Blytheville, he drove
himself to the emergency room in Paragould, where he was
treated for high blood pressure. He attached medical records
to his motion and asked the trial court to reconsider its
ruling and withhold its final ruling until he could testify.
The trial court did not rule on Michaels motion for
parties divorce decree was filed September 6, 2018, and it
grants Jaime a divorce and custody of EA. Michaels
visitation is reinstated but limited to Saturday and Sunday,
once a month, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. He is also
given some limited holiday visitation. The trial court
ordered that Michaels visitation would remain in place
"unless and until he petitioned for it to be otherwise
and unless Michael and EA participate in family therapy"
as further described in the decree. The decree states in
10. The Court specifically addressed the Attorney ad Litem
and stated that she has done as impressive a job as he has
ever seen by an Attorney ad Litem in the face of phenomenally
unfair, misdirected, classless attacks over and over and over
again based ...