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Ex parte Bragg

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

April 28, 2017

Ex parte Carrie Suzanne Bragg
v.
Walter Alexander Roche, Jr. In re: Carrie Suzanne Bragg

         Chilton Circuit Court, DR-13-900186.02

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          PITTMAN, Judge.

         Carrie Suzanne Bragg ("the mother") asks this court to issue a writ of mandamus directing the Chilton Circuit Court ("the trial court") to vacate judgments awarding custody of the mother's children ("the children") to their father, Walter Alexander Roche, Jr. ("the father"), and relieving the father of his child-support obligation. We grant the mother's petition and issue the writ.

         In August 2013, the mother filed a petition requesting the trial court to domesticate a Tennessee judgment divorcing the mother and the father. She also requested the trial court to modify provisions of that judgment relating to the father's visitation with the children. The mother's action was assigned case number DR-13-900186. In response to the mother's petition, the trial court entered a judgment domesticating the divorce judgment and modifying that judgment so as to establish a new location where the parties were to exchange the children before and after the father's visitation periods.

         In May 2014, the mother filed a petition requesting the trial court to increase the father's child-support obligation. That action was assigned case number DR-13-900186.01, but eventually was dismissed.

         In July 2014, the father filed a petition requesting the trial court to hold the mother in contempt of court, to award the father joint legal custody of the children, to modify the father's visitation rights, and to decrease the father's child-support obligation. The father's action was assigned case number DR-13-900186.02 ("the father's modification action"). Shortly thereafter, the trial court entered an order in the father's modification action appointing a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the children.

         In May 2016, the trial court, in the father's modification action, entered a judgment entitled "order on show cause and modification, " which stated:

"This cause coming on before this Court upon the Petition for Contempt, Show Cause and Modification as filed by the parties. The [f]ather appearing this date with [his attorney], [the m]other appearing with [her attorney] and [the guardian ad litem] appearing. Parties presenting their issue, it is ORDERED as follows:
"1. That the father shall have the following visitation with his minor children as follows: Each Thursday evening and returning the children, during school session, to school on Friday morning.
"2. Each alternating weekend, from Friday until Monday morning, returning the children, during school session, to school.
"3. Each alternating week during the summer break from school, having the children always with their mother for the entire week prior to the start of school for the regular school year.
"4. The father shall pay the mother child support, monthly, commencing June 1, 2016[, ] at the rate of $916.40, the same being in compliance with Rule 32, [Ala. R. Jud. Admin.].
"5. All other request[s] for relief, either from [the] father or [the] mother, are hereby denied."

         Both the mother and the father filed postjudgment motions requesting the trial court to amend or clarify its judgment. Those motions were not ruled upon within 90 days of their filing and were, the mother ...


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