UNCOOPERATIVE DIVORCEE REQUIRED TO PAY


Divorces are one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Issues such as child custody and property division only add to that stress. When one of the parties adds to that stress by not following court orders, things can go from bad to worse very quickly. In a divorce case out of Madison County, the Alabama Court of Appeals had to deal with a case of exactly this type.


In 2015, the wife filed for a divorce. The trial court issued a temporary order granting the wife sole physical custody of the child and requiring the husband to pay $1,660 a month in child support. The father failed to pay the child support. He also sold some of the marital property while the divorce was pending, and he kicked the wife off his health insurance plan against the court’s order. There was also a prenuptial agreement in place that required the husband to pay the wife $18,000 unless there was still an amount owed on their home equity line of credit. In that case, the husband would owe her $18,000 minus her half of the debt owed. Right before the wife filed for divorce, he took out $39,000 from the line of credit.

After the trial, the court issued sole physical custody of the child to the wife. The husband was ordered to pay the wife $1,284 a month in child support, as well as the $18,000 in accordance with the prenuptial agreement. He was also ordered to pay half of the value of the property acquired during the marriage, which amounted to $21,150. Last, he was ordered to pay $4,576 for the wife’s healthcare premiums.

The husband appealed the decision on four grounds. First, he argued that the court messed up in calculating what he owed in healthcare premiums. The Court of Appeals agreed that the math was calculated incorrectly and sent this issue back down to the trial court to resolve.
Next, he argued that he should not have to pay the $18,000 because of the outstanding $39,000 debt on the home equity line of credit. Half of that outstanding debt is more than the $18,000, so he reasons that she should not be paid anything. However, the original debt that was owed at the time the agreement had been made was already paid in full. The agreement did not mention what would happen if more money was taken out, so the trial court did not make a mistake in ordering him to pay.

His third and fourth arguments concerned custody and child support. The Court of Appeals ruled that because the trial court judge was able to observe how the parties interacted with each other, they could not say that he made a mistake in giving sole physical custody to the mother. However, the Court of Appeals did rule that the trial court made a mistake in calculating child support because they failed to require the parties to submit one of the required forms.

If you are going through a divorce, you need a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Attorney Joseph A. Ingram of INGRAM LAW LLC has the experience needed to get results in your case. Call him today at 205-236-3997.

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