FROM THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF CATAHOULA,
NO. 18, 948 HONORABLE JOHN C. REEVES, DISTRICT JUDGE.
A. LeTard, Sr. Attorney at Law Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant: Robert Mason
McClure Attorney at Law Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee:
Alicia Dawn Mason
composed of Billy Howard Ezell, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Van H.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE.
husband filed a motion to enforce a provision of his divorce
judgment giving him a portion of his former wife's
retirement. Former wife opposed the motion, arguing that they
had entered into a subsequent oral agreement whereby former
husband relinquished his interest in her retirement in
exchange for her dismissal of an action against him to
collect past-due child support. Following a hearing, the
trial court rendered judgment denying former husband's
motion. Former husband now appeals. Finding no manifest error
in the trial court's ruling, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Mason and Alicia Dawn Mason, now Alicia Dawn Ford (Ms. Ford),
were married on August 24, 1979, and divorced on June 1,
1995. The two children born of the marriage were minors when
their parents divorced. The divorce judgment ordered Mr.
Mason to pay Ms. Ford child support in the amount of $150.00
per child per month and to reimburse Ms. Ford for one-half of
the children's medical, dental, and medication bills not
covered by the hospitalization insurance she maintained for
them. The judgment further provided that Ms. Ford's
retirement would be divided with Mr. Mason according to the
formula set forth in Sims v. Sims, 358 So.2d 919
25, 2014, Mr. Mason filed a motion requesting that Ms. Ford
be ordered to show cause why her retirement account should
not be shared with him as per the terms of their judgment of
divorce. A hearing on Mr. Mason's motion took place on
March 7, 2016, at which time evidence was presented and the
trial court heard the testimony of Ms. Ford; Ms. Ford's
mother, Emma Jean Seal (Ms. Seal); and Mr. Mason. By judgment
dated June 3, 2016, the trial court denied Mr. Mason's
motion, declaring that: "Mr. Mason is not entitled to
any portion of Alicia Dawn Ford's retirement." Mr.
Mason filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court
denied after a hearing. Mr. Mason now appeals, asserting that
the trial court erred: 1) in denying his claim to a portion
of Ms. Ford's retirement benefits; 2) in accepting the
testimony of Ms. Ford and Ms. Seal as proof that he and Ms.
Ford entered into a subsequent and valid verbal agreement
modifying their divorce judgment; and 3) "by not
considering the unjust enrichment of such an agreement."
Mr. Mason's first assigned error goes to the heart of
this appeal and will be determined by considering the merits
of his second and third assigned error.
The trial court's factual findings will not be disturbed
on appeal absent manifest error. Moreover, the trial
court's reasonable evaluations of credibility and
inferences of fact will not be disturbed on review, even
though the appellate court may believe its own evaluations
and inferences are as reasonable. Rosell v. ESCO,
549 So.2d 840 (La.1989); Monroe v. Physicians Behavioral
Hosp., LLC, 49, 248 (La.App.2d Cir.8/13/14), 147 So.3d
787. The trial court reconciles conflicting evidence. The
reviewing court does not determine whether the trial court
was right or wrong, but whether its factual conclusions are
reasonable in light of the record as a whole. Stobart v.
State, through DOTD, 617 So.2d 880 (La.1993).
Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Long Prop. Holdings,
L.L.C., 50, 199, pp. 11-12 (La.App. 2 Cir. 11/18/15),
182 So.3d 233, 240.
When findings are based on determinations regarding the
credibility of witnesses, the manifest error-clearly wrong
standard demands great deference to the trier of fact's
findings; for only the factfinder can be aware of the
variations in demeanor and tone of voice that bear so heavily
on the listener's understanding and belief in what is
Rosell, 549 So.2d at 844. The Louisiana Supreme
Court has gone so far as to declare that "[w]here the
factfinder's determination is based on its decision to
credit the testimony of one of two or more witnesses, that
finding can virtually never be manifestly erroneous."
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