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Court Case Record Robert Bradford JOHNSON. v. Claire Wilcox JOHNSON. 2150283 UID(ccdc)


Robert Bradford JOHNSON. v. Claire Wilcox JOHNSON. Court Case Record

Court Case Number: 2150283


 
Case Number2150283
Case TitleRobert Bradford JOHNSON. v. Claire Wilcox JOHNSON.
Case TypeCriminal
StateAlabama, AL
CountyAll Counties
CourtCourt of Civil Appeals of Alabama.
Court Address
Phone
Field Date7/29/2016
Close Date

Parties

CounselNameType
Robert Bradford JOHNSON.Appellee/Petitioner
Claire Wilcox JOHNSON.Appellant/Defendant
Details
Robert Bradford Johnson (“the former husband”) appeals from a judgment of the Blount Circuit Court (“the trial court”) modifying the judgment previously entered divorcing the former husband and Claire Wilcox Johnson (“the former wife”). We affirm the trial court's judgment insofar as it addresses the former wife's use of a specific residence, child support, and an award of attorney's fees to the former wife. Because the former wife did not present evidence sufficient to show a material change in circumstances warranting an increase in periodic alimony, we reverse the judgment insofar as it modified the former husband's periodic-alimony obligation.
The former husband and the former wife were divorced by the trial court on August 19, 2009. The parties had one child during the marriage, H.O.J. (“the child”). The parties shared joint legal custody of the child pursuant to the parties' “separation agreement” that had been incorporated into the divorce judgment. The parties agreed that the former husband would be the “primary residential custodian” of the child; however, pursuant to the agreement, the parties alternated physical custody on a weekly basis. The parties further agreed that neither would pay child support to the other, based on the shared-physical-custody arrangement. In addition, the former husband agreed to pay periodic alimony of $3,000 per month to the former wife for a maximum of eight years.
On September 1, 2011, the former wife filed a petition to modify the divorce judgment. In the petition, the former wife asserted, among other things, that the former husband was often out of town and left the child in the care of hired nannies; that the former husband was unable to attend to the child's needs; that the former wife needed child support for the child; and that it would be in the best interests of the child for the former wife to have sole physical custody.
On July 29, 2013, the trial court entered an order dismissing the case for lack of prosecution. On August 22, 2013, the former wife filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate the judgment dismissing the case in which she asserted, in part, that the delay had been caused by the former husband's refusal to participate in a deposition. The trial court granted the former wife's motion and reinstated the case on August 26, 2013.
On September 26, 2013, the former husband filed an answer denying the allegations in the former wife's petition and a counterpetition to modify the divorce judgment. In his counterpetition, the former husband asserted that the child resided with him in excess of the time allotted pursuant to the parties' shared-custody arrangement and that it was in the child's best interests for the former husband to have sole physical custody.
On January 22, 2014, the former wife filed an amended petition to modify in which she asserted the same grounds as previously raised, in addition to seeking a modification of alimony and asserting that the former husband had inflicted excessive corporal punishment on the child, that the former wife's and the child's expenses had increased, and that the former husband's monthly income had increased by over two million dollars.
On January 26, 2014, former husband filed a motion to strike the former wife's amended petition in which he asserted that the former wife first raised her allegation regarding alimony modification 28 months after she had filed her first petition and that she had failed to seek leave of court to amend the petition. On February 14, 2014, the former husband filed a request for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the former wife from speaking with the child regarding the current case. On March 24, 2014, the former wife filed a verified motion for immediate entry of temporary child support. On March 26, 2014, the former husband filed a motion to suspend the former wife's custodial periods with the child and for psychiatric testing of the former wife.
On April 3, 2014, the former wife filed an ex parte motion for temporary sole custody of the child. On April 4, 2014, the former wife filed a response to the former husband's motion to suspend her custodial periods with the child and for psychiatric testing of the former wife. On February 17, 2015, the child's guardian ad litem filed a motion for an order of counseling for the child, and the former husband filed a motion in support of the guardian ad litem's motion. On May 12, 2015, the former wife and the former husband each filed their respective answer denying the allegations in the other's petition or amended petition to modify. The trial court held a trial on May 13, 2015, and August 6, 2015, during which it took testimony from the former husband and the former wife.
On September 4, 2015, the trial court entered its final judgment, which provides as follows:
“1. The [former wife's] petition to modify for custody of the child, and the [former husband's] counter-petition to modify for custody of the child are each denied. The initial order of divorce, which was by agreement, sets forth a true shared custody arrangement with each party having equal time with the child. The Court finds that neither party has shown that a change in the custody arrangement would be in the best interest of the child. Therefore, the parties shall continue with custody arrangement set out in the initial divorce decree.
“Furthermore, the Court orders that the parties shall cooperate regarding the care of the child. This includes, but is not limited to, physical, behavioral and mental health issues, and diagnosis and treatment of any such physical, behavioral or mental health issues; counseling; high school and college education; extra-curricular activities, including music, art, sports, equestrian skills. The parties shall not delay in getting second opinions regarding any current treatment the child is receiving. The parties shall follow doctor prescribed treatment regiments [sic]. The parties shall not allow the child to receive any tattoos or body piercing, other than a single piercing of each ear.
“Should it occur that the custody periods for either of the parties do not match times when events, annual or otherwise, are happening or may be planned, then the parties are encouraged to work together to seek to accommodate each other. However, should the parties be unable or unwilling to accommodate each other, neither party shall inform the child of such inability to make such accommodations, and neither shall take such inability as a slight or an insult, or as the other being inflexible or obstinate. The parties made their agreement, and they shall live with it until the child reaches the age of nineteen.
“2. The [former wife's] petition for modification for child support is granted. The [former husband] is ordered on October 1, 2015 to begin paying child support to the [former wife] in the amount of $3000.00 per month until the child reaches the age of nineteen, marries or becomes self-supporting. This is retroactive back to the filing of the petition on or about September 1, 2011. Because the retroactive aspect creates an arrearage of $144,000.00, the [former husband] shall pay such in 12 equal installments beginning November 1, 2015. The child support is an upward deviation from the child support guidelines due to the incomes of the parties. All payments are due on the first day of each month.
“3. The [former wife's] petition for modification of alimony is hereby granted. The Court finds that the needs of the [former wife] have increased and the ability of the [former husband] to pay has increased. The [former husband] is ordered to pay the [former wife] alimony in the amount of $5,000 per month beginning October 1, 2015. All payments shall be due on the first day of each month and shall continue unless terminated by operation of law.
“4. The [former wife] shall be allowed to remain in and live in the home she is presently occupying until the child reaches the age of 21.
“5. The [former wife's] petition to modify the requirement for her to maintain life insurance is denied.
“6. The [former husband] shall pay an attorney's fee to the [former wife's] attorney in the amount of $10,000 within 60 days of this order.
“7. The parties shall each pay an additional $1000 as a [guardian ad litem] fee ․ within 60 days of this order.
“8. The Court finds that the total amount of monies that the [former husband] is ordered to pay under this order over the next thirty-five years (which is the life expectancy of the [former wife] pursuant to Social Security Actuarial tables) is less than two months of the [former husband's] current income. Thus, the Court finds that such is reasonable and is not onerous or burdensome to the [former husband].
“9. All other aspects of the divorce decree entered on or about August 19, 2009 shall remain in force and effect.
“10. All other requests for relief by either party are hereby denied.”
On October 1, 2015, the former husband filed a motion pursuant to Rule 59(e), Ala. R. Civ. P., to alter, amend, or vacate the judgment. On October 9, 2015, the former wife filed a response to the former husband's postjudgment motion. On December 1, 2015, the trial court denied the former husband's motion to alter, amend, or vacate. On December 22, 2015, the former husband timely filed his notice of appeal to this court.