DESULTORY THOUGHTS ON JUDGMENT INTEREST

March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

  • It is error, as a matter of law, for a chancellor not to award interest on a judgment for past due support. Caplinger v. Julian, decided February 12, 2013, by the COA, citing Ladner v. Logan, 857 So.2d 764, 772-73 (Miss. 2003).
  • MCA 75-17-7:

All judgments or decrees founded on any sale or contract shall bear interest at the same rate as the contract evidencing the debt on which the judgment or decree was rendered. All other judgments or decrees shall bear interest at a per annum rate set by the judge hearing the complaint from a date determined by such judge to be fair but in no event prior to the filing of the complaint.

  • Each unpaid child support payment begins to accrue interest from the date it is due, and the chancellor has no authority to abrogate or disallow interest as to each payment for equitable or other reasons. Dorr v. Dorr, 797 So.2d 1008, 1015 (Miss. App. 2001).
  • It was not error for the chancellor to set interest on unpaid child support at 8% per annum, even though prevailing interest rates were considerably lower when assessed. The payments were due for a span of years, and interest rates fluctuated during the time that the payments vested. Houck v. Ousterhout, 861 So.2d 1000, 1003 (Miss. 2003).
  • 8% interest found to be reasonable. Adams v. Adams, 591 So.2d 431, 436 (Miss. 1991); and Howard v. Howard, 913 So.2d 1030, 1036 (Miss. App. 2005).
  • A 3% interest rate was upheld. The COA found no authority to hold that particular rate to be an abuse of discretion or manifestly in error. Brawdy v. Howell, 841 So.2d 1175, 1180 (Miss. App. 2003).
  • In Beasnett v. Arlidge, 934 So.2d 345, 349 (Miss. App. 2006), the court upheld an award of 8% per annum assessed on past-due child support in a TPR case.
  • MCA 75-17-1 sets legal rates of interest and finance charges on contracts and accounts. As of today, the legal rate on “notes, accounts and contracts” is 8%. The parties may, however, contract for a greater rate within the limits set out in the statute.

Although interest rates of between 3% and 8% have been upheld, it would seem to me a logical argument that 8% is still a reasonable rate, even in these depressed-interest times, since that is the rate that the legislature has set and maintained in effect for “notes, accounts and contracts.”

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