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Adcock v. Fronk

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

May 3, 2019

Elton T. ADCOCK
v.
Gretchen L. FRONK.

          

          Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (DR-11-900145.01)

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1246

          Elton T. Adcock, appellant, pro se.

         Gretchen L. Fronk, appellee, pro se.

         EDWARDS, Judge.

         Elton T. Adcock ("the father") and Gretchen L. Fronk ("the mother") were divorced in 2013. The 2013 divorce judgment, among other things, awarded the parties joint legal custody of their children and designated the mother as the sole physical custodian, awarded the father limited supervised visitation, ordered the father to pay child support in the amount of

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$958 per month, required the father to maintain medical insurance covering the children subject to certain conditions, and required the parties to equally split the cost of noncovered reasonable and necessary medical expenses of the children. In addition, the 2013 divorce judgment ordered the father to pay the mother $5,000 as a property settlement and to maintain in effect an existing life-insurance policy designating the mother as beneficiary ("the life-insurance policy").

         In December 2016, the father filed a complaint seeking to modify his child-support obligation. The mother answered the father's complaint and later filed a counterclaim seeking to hold the father in contempt for his failure to pay child support as ordered, to maintain health insurance covering the children, to maintain the life-insurance policy, to pay her the $5,000 property settlement, and to pay one-half of the noncovered medical expenses incurred on behalf of the children. The father amended his complaint to add a claim seeking to hold the mother in contempt for failing to allow the father to exercise visitation; in his amended complaint, he sought to modify certain provisions of the 2013 divorce judgment relating to visitation.

         After a trial on July 18, 2018, the trial court entered a judgment on July 31, 2018 ("the 2018 modification judgment"), denying the father's request for a modification of child support, suspending the father's duty to pay child support so long as the children continued to receive monthly Social Security disability payments in an amount at least equivalent to the father's monthly child-support obligation, and determining that the father was due a credit for overpayment of child support in the amount of $7,611.43. In the 2018 modification judgment, the trial court also determined that the father owed the mother $4,742.17 for one-half of the noncovered medical expenses she had incurred on behalf of the children. The 2018 modification judgment further ordered the father to pay the mother $3,159.42 for reimbursement of one-half of the cost of the health insurance covering the children and to pay one-half of the cost of that insurance going forward. The trial court also declared that the father was in contempt of the 2013 divorce judgment, but it did not set a purger or impose any punishment. Finally, the 2018 modification judgment terminated the provision in the 2013 divorce judgment permitting the father to exercise visitation at the Family Services Center in Huntsville and awarded the mother a $6,836.40 attorney's fee. The father timely filed a notice of appeal.

         At the trial, the trial court heard testimony from the father, the mother, and Timothy Roy Callins, who formerly served as an attorney in the child-support division of the Department of Human Resources. The father testified that he and the mother had divorced in 2013 and that, at that time, the mother and the children had already relocated to Lavonia, Georgia. According to the father, the distance between Huntsville and Lavonia is approximately 350 miles and takes between 5 and 6 hours to traverse. The father explained that he had been awarded supervised visitation with the children twice per month for no more than three hours per visit and that he was entitled to exercise at least one of those visits each month at the Family Services Center in Huntsville. However, he testified that he had had only one visit with the children since the divorce, which, he said, had been held at the Family Services Center on May 20, 2017, and had been limited to only one hour. He said that he had asked for visits multiple times and that the mother had told him that the children were too busy with their extracurricular activities or were going on vacation; he

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said that he and the mother could never arrive at an agreeable time for any visits.

         The father testified that he had retired from his employment with the State of Alabama on September 28, 2012, before the entry of the 2013 divorce judgment. He testified that, upon his retirement from the State of Alabama, the children were covered by his former employer's medical-insurance policy pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 ("COBRA"), but, he said, coverage under COBRA "abruptly stopped" in September 2014. After that time, the father explained, he purchased private medical insurance to cover the children at the cost of $453 per month, which he maintained through August 2017. The father testified that, once he was declared disabled, he was entitled to Medicare but that the children were not.

         In November 2016, the Social Security Administration determined that the father was disabled as of February 17, 2015. The children were each awarded a $9,284 lump-sum payment representing the amount they were entitled to receive from the date of the onset of the father's disability and $548 per month in Social Security disability benefits each month after December 2016. The combined amount of the children's Social Security disability benefits exceeds the father's monthly child-support obligation of $958.

         The father testified that he had not maintained the life-insurance policy as required by the 2013 divorce judgment. According to the father, "[t]hat was impossible to do at the time that the [trial] court ordered it, and I have a document." However, the father did not further explain the alleged impossibility or provide documentary evidence regarding the alleged impossibility.

         The father further admitted that he had not always paid his entire monthly child-support obligation of $958. The father admitted that, at the time the 2013 divorce judgment was entered, he had a child-support arrearage in the amount of $1,616. Exhibits admitted by both parties indicate that the father failed to make child-support payments in February, March, April, and August 2013; in September 2013, he paid the mother $1,916 in child support. Those same exhibits show that, from ...


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