Michael J. Bedard
from Madison Circuit Court (DR-15-900028)
THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE.
J. Bedard ("the husband") appeals from a judgment
of the Madison Circuit Court ("the trial court")
divorcing him from Sharon Bedard ("the wife"). In
the judgment, among other things not relevant to this appeal,
the trial court divided the parties' marital property,
awarded the wife sole physical custody of the parties'
child ("the child") subject to the husband's
visitation, and found the husband in contempt for his failure
to comply with a pendente lite order.
record indicates the following. The wife filed a complaint
for a divorce on January 19, 2015, and, at the same time, she
requested pendente lite child support. On March 19, 2015, the
husband filed his answer and a motion seeking the entry of
the court's "standing pendente lite order," as
well as a request for a pendente lite hearing seeking
enforcement of the standing pendente lite order. A hearing
was held on April 9, 2015, and the next day the trial court
entered a pendente lite order awarding the parties joint
legal custody of the child and the wife sole physical custody
of the child subject to the husband's standard
visitation. The parties were directed to provide the trial
court with income information pursuant to Rule 32, Ala. R.
Jud. Admin., so that the court could determine child support.
The trial court also entered the standing pendente lite order
that the husband had requested. Among other things, the
standing order directed the parties to preserve their assets.
The parties complied with the request to provide income
information, and on April 28, 2015, the trial court amended
the pendente lite order to direct the husband to pay the wife
$1, 660 on the first of each month, beginning in May 2015, as
pendente lite child support.
4, 2015, the wife filed a motion to hold the husband in
contempt because he had paid only $1, 303 in pendente lite
support. On July 1, 2015, the wife filed a second contempt
motion alleging that she had received the second
child-support payment from the husband on June 30, 2015, and
that that payment was for only $281.74. In her motion, the
wife said that the husband had told her that the trial court
had incorrectly calculated his child-support obligation.
Before the trial was held, the wife filed two more contempt
motions--one regarding the husband's failure to pay the
required child support and the other alleging that the
husband had removed the wife from his health-insurance policy
in violation of the standing pendente lite order.
the trial, the following evidence was adduced. The parties
were married in December 2008. The child, a daughter who was
seven years old at the time of the trial, was the only child
born of the marriage. However, both the husband and the wife
had older children from previous marriages. Both parties
sought sole physical custody of the child. The husband
testified that he was concerned about the child being injured
in the wife's care. He said that, on three occasions, he
had taken the child to the hospital for what he said were
dislocated elbows. He presented photographs of the child with
bruises and scrapes and said that the wife had explained away
those injuries, saying the child was clumsy. The husband also
testified about an occasion when the wife "smacked"
the child because she was crying. He said that the child had
never given him cause to even send her to her room, adding
that the child had "been a very compliant child to
husband's father, Donald Bedard, testified that the wife
was a "fabulous, caring" mother and that he had no
concerns about the child's well being in the wife's
custody. He said that he had been to the wife's apartment
where she had been living with the child since the
parties' separation and that, at the wife's home,
"there was no anxiety, happiness, no sadness."
During the marriage, Donald Bedard said, the parties'
home had "a bit of anxiety, walking on eggshells at
times ... and fear." Donald Bedard acknowledged that he
and other members of his family, including the husband's
mother and siblings, did not have a relationship with the
husband. Donald Bedard testified that the husband had told
him he was not welcome in the husband's home.
husband testified that he disciplined his older children by
taking away a privilege or grounding them. However, the
husband acknowledged that he had been charged with felony
child abuse regarding one of those children. In his appellate
brief, the husband says only that the charge had been nolle
prossed. However, the record indicates that, during his
testimony, the husband acknowledged that he had participated
in a pretrial-intervention program through the auspices of
the district attorney's office. The program required the
husband to make a statement admitting guilt and to perform
100 hours of community service.
wife testified that she and the child spend time together
baking, gardening, sewing, swimming, playing with dolls, and
"role playing." She also testified that the husband
would not allow her to take the child to South Africa to
visit the child's maternal grandfather when the maternal
grandfather was dying. The wife testified that, in her
opinion, she and the husband would be unable to co-parent the
child. The husband testified that he did not know of a reason
why the parties could not co-parent the child.
the parties' property, on December 12, 2008, before they
married, the parties entered into an antenuptial agreement.
Pursuant to the agreement, the husband and the wife were to
maintain the separate estates with which they entered the
marriage. A specific term of the agreement provided that the
husband was to retain his house, where the parties lived
during the marriage. However, the agreement further specified
that there was an outstanding balance of $36, 000 on a
home-equity line of credit ("HELOC") secured by
that house at the time the agreement was reached. The
agreement provided that the husband "will pay [the wife]
the amount of $18, 00 less half the outstanding balance on
the loan." No other terms or limitations regarding the
payment of the $18, 000 were included in the agreement.
wife testified that, when she and the husband married, she
sold the house that she had lived in during her previous
marriage. She said that $14, 346 out of the total proceeds
she earned from the sale of that house were used "to
help pay off" the $36, 000 home-equity loan on the
husband's house. That loan was paid in full in February
2010. However, in January 2015, shortly before the wife filed
the divorce complaint on January 19, 2015, the husband made
three withdrawals totaling $39, 000 from the HELOC without
the wife's knowledge. The husband testified that he made
the withdrawals to pay the college expenses for one of his
the marriage, the parties acquired personal property for
which the wife sought half the value. At trial, the wife
submitted a list of those accumulated assets, which included
her estimated value of each asset. In addition to some
household items, the wife said, during the marriage the
parties had acquired numerous vehicles, including a Ford F250
pickup truck, a fifth-wheel camper, two passenger vans, four
motorcycles, two automobiles, a pontoon boat and trailer, two
jet skis, two four-wheelers, and four dirt bikes. The wife
estimated the total value of the vehicles and household items
to be $42, 300. The husband paid for most of the vehicles and
items with cash, and the title to most of the vehicles was in
his name only. The titles to the Ford F250 truck and the
camper were in both the parties' names, and one of the
motorcycles was in the wife's name. The evidence
indicated that the husband sold some of the vehicles and the
pontoon boat while the divorce action was pending.
the issues of contempt, the husband testified that he had
removed the wife from his health-insurance policy in December
2015 even though that conduct was prohibited by the standing
pendente lite order. The husband said that he had removed the
wife from the policy at her request because, he said, the
wife had told him she was obtaining health-insurance through
her employer. The wife testified that the husband had told
her that he was removing her from his health-insurance
coverage in December 2015 because, she said, he had told her
it was going to cost him an extra $100 each month.
Accordingly, the wife said, she was required to purchase her
own policy while the divorce action was pending.
husband also testified that he did not pay the wife the
amount of pendente lite child support the trial court had
ordered because, he said, his attorney had told him
"they had reached an agreement to pay $1, 303" and
that, subsequently, the wife had agreed for the husband to
pay her "200-some-odd dollars" in subsequent
the trial, the trial court entered a judgment that, among
other things, awarded the wife sole physical custody of the
child subject to the husband's visitation, ordered the
husband to pay the wife $1, 284 in monthly child support, and
ordered the husband to pay the wife $18, 000 pursuant to the
antenuptial agreement and $21, 150, representing half of the
value of the vehicles and household items acquired during the
marriage. Additionally, the trial court found the husband in
contempt for (1) failing to pay the wife the correct amount
of pendente lite child support and directed him to pay the
wife $2, 139 for unpaid child support; (2) removing the wife
from his health-insurance policy and directed him to pay $4,
576 for the amount the wife had paid to secure
health-insurance from January 2016 through the date of the
trial; and (3) selling items of personal property acquired
during the marriage during the pendency of the divorce
action, in violation of the standing pendente lite order. The
trial court found that, as to the latter ground for contempt,
the husband had committed at least three separate acts:
selling the pontoon boat, the trailer, and the Ford F250
pickup truck. The husband was sentenced to 15 days in jail,
but the sentence was suspended.
parties filed motions to alter, amend, or vacate the
judgment. The trial court denied both motions, and the
husband filed a timely notice of appeal.
appeal, the husband maintains that the trial court erred in
finding him in contempt for violating certain provisions of
the standing pendente lite order ("the standing
order") because, he says, the standing order was
invalid. Specifically, the husband contends that "the
standing pendente lite order was entered without notice to
the husband" and without a Rule 65(b), Ala. R. Civ. P.,
certification. Therefore, he says, the standing order was
invalid and could not support a finding of contempt.
record dispels the premise on which the husband's
argument is based. The husband filed a motion on
March 19, 2015, the same day he filed his answer, asking the
trial court to enter the standing order.
"The law is well settled that a party may not induce an
error by the trial court and then attempt to win a reversal
based on that error. 'A party may not predicate an
argument for reversal on "invited error," that is,
"error into which he has led or lulled the trial
court."' Atkins v. Lee, 603 So.2d 937, 945
(Ala. 1992)(quoting Dixie Highway Express, Inc. v.
Southern Ry., 286 Ala. 646, 651, 244 So.2d 591, 595
(1971)). 'That doctrine [of invited error] provides that
a party may not complain of error into which he has led the
court.' Ex parte King, 643 So.2d 1364, 1366
(Ala. 1993). 'A party cannot win a reversal on an error
that party has invited the trial court to commit.'
Neal v. Neal, 856 So.2d 766, 784 (Ala. 2002). See
also Liber ...