Everyone dreams of a happy life with their significant other and children. Some people are lucky enough to have that happiness and keep it. But, sometimes that happiness comes crashing down. When that happens, custody and visitation battles can be bitter.
This story starts like many others. A couple got a divorce, the mother was awarded custody of the young child. The father was awarded visitation and required to paid child support and half the medical expenses. They also agreed that any extra expenses had to be agreed in advance if the father was to pay.
From there, things went south quickly. The grandmother on the mother’s side claimed the father abused the child. Because of these claims, the father was required to visit under supervision for three months. At the end of the three months DHR found no evidence for the grandmother’s claims.
After a couple of all right years, trouble came knocking again. The mother again claimed the father abused the child. DHR came again and questioned the child. After a full investigation, DHR found insufficient evidence of abuse.
In response, the mother sued to take away the father’s right to visit. During the lawsuit, the father also stopped paying for the child’s private school and music lessons to cover legal fees. As a result, the mother also filed a claim for the costs of school and lessons.
The mother hired a psychologist to examine the child to support the claim of abuse. At trial, the psychologist testified that the child showed signs of abuse. However, the DHR expert said that the child had said that her mother told her what to say when DHR talked to her.
In the end, it came down to who the court believed, DHR or the mother. The trial court found the evidence of DHR and the father more believable than that of the mother. It also found that the father did not have to pay the cost of private school and music lessons because he never agreed to it.
The mother then appealed the decision. The appellate court, in the case of T.G.F. v. D.L.F., fully re-examined the evidence. After looking at the evidence about the abuse, the Court agreed that the evidence supported the trial court’s decision not to restrict the father’s visitation. However, it found that the trial court should have made the father pay the child’s costs because he admitted he agreed to pay for it.
In any case, it comes down to how much evidence you have and how good the evidence is. You also need to be able to use the evidence well to support your case. This case could have gone either way, and using the evidence as well as possible could make all the difference. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to consult an attorney with good experience in family law.
If you need help with child visitation or child support in Alabama, call Joseph A. Ingram of INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 335-2640.