from Tuscaloosa Circuit Court (DR-10-751.01 and DR-10-751.02)
Gordon ("the mother") and Brian Gordon ("the
father") are the parents of a child ("the
child") born in October 2006. In 2007 the mother began
attending medical school in Illinois; the child and the
father remained in Alabama. At some point in 2011, the mother
graduated from medical school and returned to Alabama to
begin a medical-residency program.
March 10, 2012, the parties were divorced by a judgment
entered by the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court. The circuit court
adopted the parties' mediated agreement and, among other
things, awarded the parties joint legal custody of the child,
named the father as the sole physical custodian, and ordered
the mother to pay child support. The father, an assistant
professor at the University of Alabama, worked and resided in
Tuscaloosa; the mother practiced medicine in the Birmingham
area, resided in Birmingham, and leased an apartment in
Tuscaloosa to facilitate her visitation with the child.
September 2014, the father filed a petition seeking, among
other things, a modification of the child's custody and a
recalculation of the mother's child-support obligation.
The father's action was assigned case number DR-10-751.01
("the .01 action"). That same month, the mother
filed an answer to the father's petition and a
counterclaim seeking a modification of the child's
custody and a termination of her obligation to pay child
support. The mother's action was assigned case number
DR-10-751.02 ("the .02 action"). On March 13, 2015,
the mother filed a motion seeking, among other things,
consolidation of the .01 action and the .02 action. On March
19, 2015, the circuit court entered an order, which provides,
in pertinent part:
"It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that [the
.01 action] and [the .02 action] shall be consolidated for
trial purposes and that all future pleadings shall be filed
was held on November 4, 2015, and January 12, 2016. On March
17, 2016, the circuit court entered a judgment, increasing
the amount of the mother's child-support obligation and
denying her request for a modification of custody upon its
express determination that the mother had failed to provide
evidence to meet the custody-modification requirements set
out in Ex parte McLendon, 455 So.2d 463 (Ala.
1984)("the McLendon standard"); however,
the circuit court increased the mother's "parenting
record reflects that the mother filed her postjudgment motion
on Sunday, April 17, 2016. The circuit court held a postjudgment
hearing, and, on May 20, 2016, it entered an order in which
it amended certain custody-exchange and visitation
provisions. On June 8, 2016, the mother filed a timely notice
of appeal, seeking this court's review of two
Propriety of the Child-Support Modification
mother contends that the circuit court erred by increasing
her child-support obligation "solely on income and not
the needs of the child."
"'Our standard of review in a case involving a
modification of a child-support order is well settled.
Matters related to child support, including subsequent
modifications of a child-support order, rest soundly within
the trial court's discretion and will not be disturbed on
appeal, absent a showing that the ruling is unsupported by
the evidence and thus is plainly and palpably wrong.
Berryhill v. Reeves, 705 So.2d 505 (Ala. Civ. App.
1997); Williams v. Braddy, 689 So.2d 154 (Ala. Civ.
App. 1996). A child-support award may be modified upon a
showing of a material change of circumstances that is
substantial and continuing. Id.; State ex rel.
Shellhouse v. Bentley, 666 So.2d 517 (Ala. Civ. App.
1995). "Factors indicating a change of circumstances
include a material change in the needs, conditions, and
circumstances of the child." Id. at 518. The
primary consideration in awarding child support is the
welfare and best interests of the child. Balfour v.
Balfour, 660 So.2d 1015 (Ala. Civ. App. 1995).
"'This court has further held that a trial court is
required to determine if a deduction is to be allowed in a
monthly child-support obligation based on the fact that
health-insurance premiums are being paid on behalf of the
child in accordance with Rule 32(B)(7), Ala. R. Jud. Admin.
See Jordan v. Jordan, 688 So.2d 839 (Ala. Civ. App.
1997), Kennamore v. State ex rel. Jinnette, 686
So.2d 295 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996).'
"Jackson v. Jackson, 777 So.2d 155, 158 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2000)."
Volovecky v. Hoffman, 903 So.2d 844, 847-48 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2004).
"Rule 32(A) and (C), Ala. R. Jud. Admin., provide a
method for determining the amount of child support according
to the parents' combined incomes and a schedule of basic
child-support obligations. There is a rebuttable presumption
that the amount of child support calculated pursuant to the
Rule 32 guidelines is the 'correct amount of child
support to be awarded.' Rule 32(A), Ala. R. Jud.
Batchelor v. Batchelor, 188 So.3d 704, 707 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2015).
mother had been obligated to pay $678 per month in child
support. The parents each submitted a CS-41
Child-Support-Obligation Income Statement/Affidavit form. In
its Form CS-42, the circuit court correctly indicates that
the father had reported a monthly gross income of $6, 131 and
that the mother had reported a monthly gross income of $10,
769.24. After certain deductions, the mother's share of
the child-support ...