Category Archives: Divorce

Bayliss Ruling Creates Questions

Since the Supreme Court of Alabama has reversed the holding in Bayliss,it has raised some issues that the Court will most likely have to address in the near future.  The most obvious being how to deal with the fact that in Alabama the age of majority is 19.  This age is more than is required for most any adult dealings. For instance, at 18 a male must register for the draft and both sexes are able to register to vote.

By the age of majority being 19 in Alabama, it obligates non-custodial parents to continue child support payments until then or the minor child becomes self-supporting.  It raises the interesting question of: now that a noncustodial parent cannot be forced to pay post minority support, why would they have to continue to pay support to  a custodial parent in a situation where the 18 year old child is … Read the rest

What is Child Support?

In Alabama child support is governed by Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. The last revision of the guidelines became effective on January 1, 2009. The main change made was an extension of the guidelines to cover gross monthly income amounts in excess of 10,000.00. Currently the guidelines are calculated to apply to gross combined incomes of up to 20,000.00 per month.

Each parent is responsible for a percentage of the whole amount calculated. This percentage is determined by taking each parent’s monthly gross income and dividing it by the combined gross income of both parents.

Child support is awarded to the custodial parent per the percentage obtained by application of the guidelines and it is designated to meet the everyday basic needs of the minor child. The non-custodial parent will pay this percentage in monthly payments to the custodial parent. The custodial parent is responsible … Read the rest

Divorce: Being Prepared

The decision to seek a divorce is normally based upon several factors. While the main reason is often the emotional situation between the parties, others include finances, issues surrounding children, and general discontentment.

If a person is considering a divorce, there are some things he or she should consider doing in preparation. The first is to create an emergency financial fund since divorces can create problems concerning living arrangements, bill paying, and attorney’s fees.  It is important that the fund contains enough money to pay the current mortgage, or rent, on a new residence in case he or she is the one who will move out.

If there are children of the marriage, consideration should be given to paying temporary child support or potentially needing to support the children alone until a temporary order can be put into place.  The ability to pay existing financial obligations, as well as any … Read the rest

Alabama Supreme Court Decision Impacts Future Divorce Cases

The Alabama Supreme Court made a landmark decision in 2013 when it struck down the decades old Ex parte Bayliss ruling. This decision should have long lasting effect on future domestic relations cases in the state.  In Ex parte Bayliss, the court at the time established under what parameters a non-custodial parent could be forced to pay for the college education of his or her children after the reached the age of majority.

On its face the original Bayliss ruling seemed illogical due to the fact that all support obligations to a minor child cease upon the child reaching the age of majority, which in Alabama is 19.  Many non-custodial parents were forced to make college payments that they could not afford because it was ordered in the original divorce decree or ordered in a hearing for post minority support.

Notwithstanding the legal arguments against the Bayliss rule, there … Read the rest

Same Sex Adoption in Alabama

Recently the topic of same sex adoption has arisen in Alabama.  The issue comes from a same sex couple who may have gotten legally married in a state that recognizes same sex marriages.  That couple then for whatever reason relocates to Alabama.  The couple is a female couple and one of them gets pregnant, and the other wishes to adopt the child by claiming that she is the spouse.

To date all Alabama courts have denied these request and upheld the denials on appeal due to Alabama not recognizing same sex marriage.  This includes same sex marriages that may be valid in other states.… Read the rest

What is My Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?

On many occasions, I get confronted with a spouse who does not want a divorce but the other spouse has either filed for one with a divorce attorney, or is at least contemplating filing for divorce.   The reality is that no matter how bad you want to save or salvage your marriage, if one spouse wants a divorce and sues for it, then under Alabama Law they will be able to divorce you even against your wishes.

Obviously this does not seem fair to the spouse who wants to save the marriage however I think that the this rule is sound due to the potential problems that could arise if spouses were forced to remain married until both of them were ready for a divorce.… Read the rest

What if Spouse Refuses to Return Child After Visitation?

What should you do if your spouse refuses to bring back the minor children at the end of his or her visitation period?  First do not panic.  Call the non-custodial parent and inquire as to the whereabouts of the child or children and when they will be available for you to pick up.  If that does not work or the non-custodial parent refuses then your course of action is by legal means.

Contact an attorney and tell him the situation and they can advise you on a proper course of action.  Some possible legal remedies are filing documents for the immediate return of the minor child or children or filing to have the non-custodial parent held in contempt of court for failing to abide by the court’s order concerning visitation. Finally depending on the gravity of the circumstances you may ask the court to order the local sheriff’s department … Read the rest

What is “Discovery” in a Divorce Case?

If during a divorce questions arise as to the finances of the family or of one spouse in particular there are methods to conduct “discovery” on those issues and attempt to uncover the facts.

Discovery is information sought by each side in a divorce action to assist them in the divorce trial to make sure a fair representation is being made concerning the facts of the case.  It can come in several forms; the most used form of discovery is interrogatories.  Interrogatories are a set of questions sent to the opposing side that must be answered under oath and a written response returned to the sending party.  Also many times a production of documents request will be sent to aid in discovery.  In a production request you can ask for bank records, financial statements, video, photographs etc.  These are but two of the most common methods of obtaining discovery in … Read the rest

Making Changes to Original Divorce Order

If a divorced parent wishes to change a part of the original divorce order then they must understand the limitations. First any property settlements are final after the 42 day appeal time has expired. The only issues that are subject to modification are; child support, visitation, and alimony. The first two are always available for modification while alimony may require a certain set of facts specific to the particular case to become modifiable.

Generally child support may be reviewed and recalculated upon the occurrence of a 10% increase or decrease in either party’s income or some other material change in circumstance that would affect the support amount. Visitation may be reviewed upon the allegation of a material change in circumstance that is adversely affecting the children or is causing an interference with a party’s ability to have visitation with the minor child or children.… Read the rest

What is Joint Legal Custody?

What is joint legal custody?  In a divorce this is a common term.  It is used to describe the parties’ legal standing regarding the minor children.

Unlike sole custody where one parent keeps all control legal and custodial over the minor child or children; joint custody allows both parents to be on a somewhat equal footing regarding the minor children.  In a joint custody arrangement both parents enjoy being able to speak with doctors, school teachers, counselors, etc and are able to have access to medical and school records.  The actual physical address of the minor child will lie with one of the parents and the other will have visitation.  It is an important tool used to keep both parents involved with the minor children as much as possible so that they may keep the bonds made with the children intact.… Read the rest