Released for Publication July 22, 2015.
Appeal from Madison Circuit Court. (DR-13-900347). D. Alan Mann, Trial Judge.
For Appellant: Robert M. Shipman, Huntsville.
For Appellee: Angela Leigh Daniel, Huntsville.
DONALDSON, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Moore, JJ., concur.
Sara Johnson (" the wife" ) appeals the Madison Circuit Court's judgment entered on December 17, 2013, divorcing her from Travis Johnson (" the husband" ) and addressing child-custody and child-support issues. Because the record does not contain a sufficient evidentiary basis to support the judgment, the judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded.
The parties were married on February 22, 2009. The husband, through counsel, filed a complaint for a divorce on April 10, 2013. The wife, representing herself, filed her answer and a counterclaim for a divorce on May 14, 2013. The husband answered the wife's counterclaim on May 22, 2013. Both parties sought sole custody of the minor child born of the marriage.
The husband thereafter served various discovery requests on the wife, and he filed a motion to compel responses to those requests on September 19, 2013. The trial court entered an order granting the husband's motion to compel on September 20, 2013. On October 9, 2013, the husband filed a motion for sanctions against the wife for her continued failure to respond to the discovery requests and for her failure to comply with the trial court's order compelling her to respond. Specifically, the husband requested that the trial court again order the wife to respond and to pay the fees associated with her failure to respond; to hold the wife in contempt; to dismiss the wife's counterclaim " or in the alternative" grant the husband's complaint; and to order any other relief available. The trial court entered the following order: " The [husband] has filed a motion requesting that the [wife] be held in contempt of this Court. This matter is therefore set for hearing at 9:30 a.m. November, 2013 at which time the [wife] shall appear and show cause why she should not be punished for contempt." No date for the hearing was specified in the order.
Based on materials in the record, a hearing on the husband's motion was apparently held on November 1, 2013. Following that hearing, at which the wife apparently appeared, the wife submitted a one-page, handwritten notice of discovery indicating that she had produced a W2 form and pay stubs from her employer, " Publix," a bank statement from " Redstone," and a lease agreement. The wife's notice of discovery also indicated that she had responded to certain questions submitted by the husband by stating " N/A" and that she had responded to another question by stating, in part: " I have not [decided] on evidence yet."
On December 5, 2013, the husband filed a renewed motion for sanctions, pursuant to Rule 37, Ala. R. Civ. P., again asserting that the wife had failed to comply with previously entered orders of the court. As the only ground for relief, the motion stated that the husband " renews his Motion for Sanctions and he requests the court dismiss the [wife's] counterclaim and grant the divorce he [has] filed."
The next entry in the record is a " Final Decree of Divorce" entered by the trial court on December 17, 2013, stating that, " on consideration of the pleadings and hearing held for sanctions, the [wife's] Counterclaim is dismissed and as sanctions the Court enters the following ...." The judgment divorced the parties on the ground of incompatibility of temperament. The judgment granted the sole care, custody, and control of the child to the husband and ordered that the wife would have certain ...