From Alabama

Information about divorce and family law in Alabama (where I practice law)

Appeal from Juvenile Court

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has refused to hear an appeal from the Lowndes Juvenile Court because the record wasn’t complete. In M.V.N. v. D.L.C., Case No. 2050097 (Ala. Civ. App. April 21, 2006), the juvenile court certified the record to be complete, but the appellate court disagreed because there was no trial transcript.

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Deposition Testimony of Unavailable Witnesses

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals says a Madison County trial court erred when it refused to admit into evidence in a modification trial the three-year-old deposition testimony of a psychologist who had examined and treated the children in an earlier dependency proceeding. The case is Goetsch v. Goetsch, Case No. 2040309 (Ala. Civ. App. April 14, 2006.

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Misconduct As Voluntary Underemployment

Pity poor Mr. Hayes. When the police arrested him for possession of obscene material (sorry, no pictures), he got suspended from his job and eventually fired. And convicted of a felony. Yeah, he did it. Not sure what it was, but it must have been bad. So why is Mr. Hayes in a family law blog? Because of what happened next.

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If It’s Not Final, You Can’t Appeal It

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has dismissed an appeal from a case in which the Barbour County Circuit Court denied a father’s request to change his visitation and ordered him to get a job. Why? Because the order being appealed wasn’t final. The case is Tracy v. Tracy, Case No. 2040823 (Ala. Civ. App. March 31, 2006).
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Rise in Do-It-Yourself Divorce

More and more couples who need to end their marriage are opting to file without an attorney, typically using web sites set up for the purpose. The lawyers call it pro se, and if the choice is between paying a lawyer $1000 or a web site $250, they can produce big savings. The lawyers call it pro se, and it is big business.

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Patience with Collecting Child Support

Interesting issue today on Alabama Divorce Questions. Mom is convinced Dad and his family are bad news for the kids, wants to preserve the status quo, wants to minimize Dad’s contact with the children. The judge has ordered no visitation so far, and Dad has shown no interest in the children.

However, Dad also hasn’t paid any of the court-ordered child support, so Mom is weighing her options. Should she take him back to court, which would risk re-awakening Dad’s and his family’s interest in the children? Or should she do nothing? She says she doesn’t need the cash now; she never counted on Dad to pay anything anyway, so she views any child support she receives as saving for college.
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Okay To Sock It To a Creep

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, in a rare moment of deference to the judgment of the trial court, has affirmed on appeal an alimony award after a marriage of less than 10 years. The parties in Turnbo v. Turnbo, Case No. 2040541 (Ala. Civ. App. March 3, 2005) married in early 1997 and divorced in early 2005. The Lauderdale Circuit Court awarded the wife alimony of $1500 per month for 24 months, even though the husband was already required to pay $1500 per month to his previous ex-wife.

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Dobson Won’t Handle Juvenile Cases

Talladega County Presiding Circuit Court Judge Julian King says Judge Tommy Dobson will not handle Juvenile cases when he returns to the bench in May. Here’s the story from the Daily Home. King provided no information about what cases Dobson would be handling, other than to say that King would be assigning other cases to Dobson and that Dobson has agreed to handle those cases “in an efficient and professional manner.”
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Playing Around with Rule 59.1

Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 59.1 says that when one or both parties file a post-judgment motion, the motion will be deemed denied if the trial court makes no ruling on it for 90 days. The case of Schiesz v. Schiesz, Case No. 2041024 (February 24, 2006) reminds us that the rule means what it says.

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Can’t Leave Visitation Up To the Custodian

This one almost makes you cry. Read the case of D.B. v. Madison County DHR, Case No. 2040919 (Ala. Civ. App. February 24, 2006), and you get an overwhelming sense of regret that the mother in this case ever gave birth to a child. Now that she has, however, what does the state do to make sure the child has a chance at a normal life?

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What Does It Take To Terminate Parental Rights?

Alabama has a two-step process that any court must conduct before terminatirg any person’s parental rights. The case of P.H. v. Madison County DHR, Case No. 2040483, 2040490 (Ala. Civ. App. February 17, 2006) is a good illustration of how the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals thinks the process should work, because it examined the cases of both parents. It found that termination of parental rights was appropriate for one parent and not for the other.

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Changing Your Name in Alabama

When you get divorced, you can choose to change your name as part of the divorce decree. To my knowledge, there’s no requirement that the name you choose be one you were using before (although most people who want to change their name in divorce choose one they were using before the marriage). What happens, though, if you do not change your name in the divorce and later want to change it? The process of changing your legal name in Alabama is not difficult. Here’s how to do it.

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Post-Judgment Motions and Rule 59.1

Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 59.1 states that if the judge makes no ruling on a post-judgment motion to alter, amend, or vacate within 90 days of its filing, the motion is deemed denied by operation of law (allowing an appeal). Each time the moton is amended, the 90 days starts again. So exactly what does it take to constitute an amendment? That’s the question the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals faced in Roden v. Roden, Case No. 2040796 (Ala. Civ. App. February 3, 2006).

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