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Docen v. Docen

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

May 3, 2019

Kevin E. Docen
v.
Victoria C. Docen

          Appeal from Mobile Circuit Court (DR-17-901207)

         On Application for Rehearing

          MOORE, JUDGE.

         This court's no-opinion order of affirmance of March 8, 2019, is withdrawn, and the following is substituted therefor.

         Kevin E. Docen ("the father") appeals from a judgment entered by the Mobile Circuit Court ("the trial court") divorcing him from Victoria C. Docen ("the mother"); specifically, he appeals the provisions of the divorce judgment regarding custody of the parties' child ("the child") and child support. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Procedural History

         The procedural history pertinent to this appeal is as follows. In a separate action before the trial court, the trial court entered, on February 17, 2017, a judgment legally separating the parties and incorporating an agreement of the parties regarding the terms of that separation. Among other things, the parties agreed that the father would pay child support to the mother in the amount of $341.18 per month.

         On September 5, 2017, the father filed a series of documents seeking an uncontested divorce from the mother, including a divorce settlement agreement ("the divorce agreement") signed by both parties, which provided, in pertinent part:

"2. THAT [the father] shall pay to [the mother] child support in the amount of $416.49 per month effective upon the issuance of the judgment of divorce, which amount is in compliance with [the child-support guidelines]."

         The father also filed a Form CS-41, see Rule 32(E), Ala. R. Jud. Admin., that had been signed by the mother, a Form CS-41 that had been signed by the father, and a Form CS-42 and a Form CS-43, both of which had been prepared by the father's attorney; those documents are hereinafter referred to collectively as "the first child-support forms."

         On September 28, 2017, before the trial court could act on a motion to enter a final judgment of divorce based on the divorce agreement, [1] the mother filed a motion to set aside the divorce agreement, arguing, among other things, that the father had "manipulated" the child-support guidelines. On September 29, 2017, the trial court entered an order granting the motion to set aside the divorce agreement, stating: "Matter shall be considered to be a contested matter and shall be set for a trial." On October 18, 2017, the trial court nevertheless entered a judgment based on the divorce agreement, but it vacated that judgment on the same date, noting that the judgment had been entered as the result of a clerical error.

         The parties then filed various pleadings and amended pleadings setting forth their claims against one another regarding, among other things, child custody and child support. A bench trial was held on April 5, 2018, at which the parties offered testimony and exhibits and submitted new CS-41 and CS-42 forms. On April 16, 2018, the trial court entered a judgment divorcing the parties. The divorce judgment provided, among other things, that the parties would share joint legal and joint physical custody of the child, with the father having the child "Monday through Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and the [mother] having the following week with the [same] schedule or any other agreed upon times." The trial court directed the father to pay child support to the mother in the amount of $416.49 per month.

         The father filed a postjudgment motion on April 26, 2018, challenging, among other things, the custody and child-support provisions of the divorce judgment. The mother also filed a postjudgment motion asserting, among other things, that the divorce judgment should be amended to require the father to pay health insurance for the child. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order on the postjudgment motions on June 8, 2018, amending the divorce judgment, in part, by explaining how it had determined the amount of its child-support award, by directing the father to maintain ...


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