Denied May 10, 2019.
from Madison Circuit Court (DR-13-900006.02)
Clement J. Cartron, Huntsville, for appellant.
on appellant's brief only.
Michael Seibert ("the former husband") appeals from
a judgment entered by the Madison Circuit Court ("the
trial court") to the extent that it determined the
amount of child support to be paid by Lorri Fields ("the
former wife"), found the former husband in contempt of
court, and ordered the former husband to pay the
attorney's fees for the former wife. We affirm the
judgment in part and reverse it in part.
parties have previously been before this court. See Ex
parte Seibert, 231 So.3d 1111 (Ala.Civ.App. 2017)
(" Seibert IV "); Seibert v.
Seibert, (No. 2140062), 217 So.3d 843 (Ala.Civ.App.
2015) (table); Ex parte Seibert, 171 So.3d 699
(Ala.Civ.App. 2013) (table); and Ex parte Seibert,
171 So.3d 700 (Ala.Civ.App. 2013) (table). In 2014, the
trial court entered a judgment divorcing the parties
("the divorce judgment"); the divorce judgment,
among other things, awarded the former wife one-half of the
balance of the parties' joint bank accounts that had
existed at the time of the parties' separation. The trial
court rejected the former husband's postjudgment motions
challenging that aspect of the divorce judgment, stating, in
"The court finds that such division is fair and
equitable, and that, moreover, there was a standing pendente
lite order adopted by the Madison County Circuit Court in
October, 2012, that directed parties in a contested divorce
to preserve joint[ly] held assets. The undersigned adopted
the standing order after being assigned to this case,
although the order was already effective."
August 17, 2016, the trial court determined that the former
wife was entitled to $21,219.95, as one-half of the joint
accounts, and entered a judgment against the former husband
for that amount.
September 13, 2017, the former wife initiated the present
action by filing a verified complaint for contempt and for a
rule nisi alleging, among other things, that the former
husband had refused to pay her the $21,219.95 as ordered by
the trial court. She requested that the former husband be
held in contempt and that he be ordered to pay her
attorney's fees. On October 17, 2017, the former husband
answered the former wife's complaint. On November 9,
2017, the former husband filed a counterclaim requesting,
among other things, that he be awarded sole physical custody
of both of the parties' children and that the former wife
be ordered to pay child support. On November 16, 2017, the
former wife filed a reply to the counterclaim.
November 21, 2017, the former wife amended her complaint,
adding a claim for attorney's fees under the Alabama
Litigation Accountability Act, Ala. Code 1975, §
12-19-270 et seq. On December 7, 2017, the former husband
filed an answer to the amended complaint and also requested
that the former wife be ordered to pay his attorney's
fees. On January 18, 2018, the former husband filed an
amended counterclaim, to which the former wife filed a reply
that same date.
trial, the trial court entered a judgment on March 8, 2018,
that, among other things, awarded the former husband sole
physical custody of the children and ordered the former wife
to pay $300 monthly in child support. The trial court found
the former husband in contempt for refusing to pay the former
wife the $21,219.95
as ordered by the trial court on August 17, 2016, and again
ordered the former husband to pay the former wife that amount
to purge himself of the contempt. The trial court also
awarded the former wife attorney's fees in the amount of
April 7, 2018, the former husband filed a postjudgment motion
challenging, among other things, the contempt and
child-support provisions of the judgment. On June 27, 2018,
the former husband moved the trial court to "find facts
specially and state separately conclusions of law"
regarding the child-support and contempt provisions of the
judgment. On July 3, 2018, the trial court entered an order
amending the March 8, 2018, judgment to order the former wife
to pay the former husband $500 per month in child support,
which, the trial court explained, deviated from the
recommended child-support obligation determined from
application of the child-support guidelines set forth in Rule
32, Ala. R. Jud. Admin. ("the child-support
guidelines"). The trial court declined to modify the
judgment with regard to the contempt finding and the award of
attorney's fees against the former husband. On August 14,
2018, the former husband filed his notice of appeal.
"When evidence is presented ore tenus, the trial court
is `"unique[ly] position[ed] to directly observe the
witnesses and to assess their demeanor and
credibility."' Ex parte T.V., 971 So.2d 1,
4 (Ala. 2007) (quoting Ex parte Fann, 810 So.2d 631,
633 (Ala. 2001)). Therefore, a presumption of correctness
attaches to a trial court's factual findings premised on
ore tenus evidence. Ex parte J.E., 1 So.3d 1002,
1008 (Ala. 2008). When evidence is taken ore tenus and the
trial judge makes no express findings of fact, this Court
will assume that the trial judge made those findings
necessary to support the judgment. Transamerica
Commercial Fin. Corp. v. AmSouth Bank, N.A., 608 So.2d
375, 378 (Ala. 1992) (citing Fitzner
Pontiac-Buick-Cadillac, Inc. v. Perkins & Assocs.,
Inc., 578 So.2d 1061 (Ala. 1991)). We will not disturb
the findings of the trial court unless those findings are
`clearly erroneous, without supporting evidence, manifestly
unjust, or against the great weight of the evidence.'
Gaston v. Ames, 514 So.2d 877, 878 (Ala. 1987)
(citing Cougar Mining Co. v. Mineral Land & Mining
Consultants, Inc., 392 So.2d 1177 (Ala. 1981)).
`"The trial court's judgment [in cases where
evidence is presented ore tenus] will be affirmed, if, under
any reasonable aspect of the testimony, there is credible
evidence to support the judgment."'
Transamerica, 608 So.2d at 378 (quoting Clark v.
Albertville Nursing Home, Inc., 545 So.2d 9, 13 (Ala.
1989), and citing Norman v. Schwartz, 594 So.2d 45
(Ala. 1991)); see also Ex parte Perkins, 646 So.2d
46 (Ala. 1994).
"`However, the ore tenus standard of review has
no application to a trial court's conclusions of law or
its application of law to the facts; a trial court's
ruling on a question of law carries no presumption of
correctness on appeal.' Ex parte J.E., 1 So.3d
at 1008 (citing Perkins, 646 So.2d at 47, and Eubanks v.
Hale, 752 So.2d 1113, 1144-45 (Ala. 1999)). This Court
`"review[s] the trial court's conclusions of law and
its application of law to the facts under the de novo