H.J.B. v. P.W., 628 So. 2d. 753 (Ala. Civ. App. 1993)

Court and Agency Decisions and Orders (including case law)

In this opinion, an Alabama court denied an appeal by an HIV-positive father after the trial court modified a custody order, granting full custodial rights to the mother. The mother had filed a petition for custody based on a change of circumstances, where the trial court considered whether she had proven a material change in circumstances and whether such a modification would be in the best interests of the child.

The trial court, in considering the best interests of the child, found the father lacking in credibility and veracity. They based this decision in large part of the fact that the father failed to disclose his HIV-positive status until the day of trial, and that this failure to disclose pertinent evidence as to his personal health was "tantamount to an attempt to secrete his true health status from the Court." The court also stated that the father's lack of veracity concerning his HIV-positive status cast suspicion on his former testimony, specifically as concerning his views on promiscuity and the gay lifestyle, and was an issue which could have a "significant bearing" on the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of his child.

Different courts and jurisdictions have taken dramatically different stances on disclosure and non-disclosure of HIV status in custody disputes (see e.g., In re Interest of John T., 538 N.W.2d 761 (Neb. Ct. App. 1995) but this case has not been overruled.

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