C. J., MILLER, P. J., and REESE, J.
Miller, Presiding Judge.
these appeals, Janine Landry and her ex-husband, Daniel
Walsh, seek review of several rulings by the trial court
arising out of the parties' custody dispute. In Case No.
A17A0449, Landry challenges (i) the court's ruling
excluding the testimony of a treating psychiatrist during the
custody hearing; and (ii) the second of two court orders
awarding attorney fees to Walsh. In Case No. A17A0450, Walsh
seeks review of the first of the two court orders awarding
him attorney fees. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
trial court's evidentiary ruling and reverse both of the
attorney fee awards.
parties' 2011 divorce decree granted joint legal custody
of their two minor children to both parties and primary
physical custody to Landry. A contemporaneous settlement
agreement incorporated into the divorce decree gave Landry
ultimate decision-making authority with respect to the
March 2014, Walsh filed a custody modification petition and
motion for contempt, asking the court, in relevant part, to
investigate the children's condition and modify custody
and visitation as warranted. Over the next year and a half,
both parties - as well as the children's psychiatrist -
vigorously contested numerous issues primarily concerning the
children's medical and psychiatric care. In October 2014,
while these disputes were ongoing, Walsh asked to be awarded
primary physical custody of the children.
a two-day bench trial, the trial court granted Walsh sole
legal custody of his children, directed Landry's
visitation to be professionally supervised, and ordered her
to pay Walsh child support and $4, 000.00 in attorney fees
under OCGA § 19-6-2 (the "First Fee Award").
Walsh timely moved for a new trial on the issue of attorney
fees and also separately moved for attorney fees under OCGA
§ 9-15-14. Following a hearing on the motion for a new
trial and fee request, the trial court awarded Walsh $50,
000.00 in attorney fees under OCGA § 9-15-14 (the
"Second Fee Award"). These appeals followed.
Landry contends that the trial court erred when it ruled that
her children's psychiatrist's joint communications
with her and the children are privileged and barred the
psychiatrist from testifying as an expert at trial on that
basis. We discern no reversible error.
OCGA § 24-7-702, a witness with specialized knowledge
may be qualified to provide expert opinion testimony. "A
trial court retains broad discretion in determining whether
to admit or exclude evidence, and an appellate court
generally will not interfere with that discretion absent
abuse." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Thornton
v. Hemphill, 300 Ga.App. 647, 650 (2) (686 S.E.2d 263)
(2009); see Giannotti v. Beleza Hair Salon, Inc.,
296 Ga.App. 636, 639 (1) (675 S.E.2d 544) (2009) (applying
same standard to expert testimony). To establish reversible
error, a party seeking review of a trial court's ruling
excluding testimony must show how the testimony would have
benefitted her case. See Thornton, supra, 300
Ga.App. at 650 (2); Tarleton v. Griffin Fed. Sav.
Bank, 202 Ga.App. 454, 455 (2) (b) (415 S.E.2d 4) (1992)
("An appellant must show harm as well as error to
prevail on appeal; error to be reversible must be
harmful.") (citation omitted). To make this showing, a
party must proffer the excluded testimony to the trial court.
See Thornton, supra, 300 Ga.App. at 650 (2). Absent
such a proffer, we have no basis in the record to disturb the
trial court's ruling. See id.; accord Clemens v.
State, 318 Ga.App. 16, 22 (4) (733 S.E.2d 67) (2012)
(holding that the appellant failed to show how the trial
court's exclusion of a witness's testimony harmed his
case because, pretermitting any error in the evidentiary
ruling, the appellant had not made a proffer of the proposed
testimony to the trial court).
trial, Walsh moved to exclude the testimony of Stuart Davis,
M.D., a psychiatrist who had treated the parties'
children, on the ground that Dr. Davis's communications
with the children and expert opinions regarding them are
protected by the psychiatrist-patient
privilege. The court heard argument from both parties
on Walsh's motion during the custody hearing. When asked
why Dr. Davis's testimony was important, Landry responded
merely that "he has extremely pertinent information with
regard to [Landry]'s ability to parent and their
psychological -" at which point the court asked another
question. Following additional argument, the court granted
Walsh's motion to exclude Dr. Davis's testimony.
in the hearing, Landry asked the court to reconsider its
ruling excluding Dr. Davis's testimony. She asserted,
without elaboration, that Dr. Davis could "speak
directly to [the children's] mental state and what would
potentially be in their best interest" because he had
treated them for approximately two years. The court sustained
its earlier ruling. At no point during the parties'
argument did Landry seek to proffer the substance of Dr.
Davis's proposed testimony on any topic, including the
children's mental state or Landry's ability to
on appeal, Landry identifies no relevant facts or opinions
about which Dr. Davis would have testified. Nor does she
explain how such testimony would have benefitted her case.
Although Landry briefly lists a handful of categories of
purportedly non-privileged information Dr. Davis could have
provided - such as unidentified information provided by third
parties, the dates of treatment, and prescribed medications -
she has identified neither the substance of any such
testimony nor how such testimony would have benefitted her
the correctness of the trial court's ruling - upon which
we express no opinion - absent a proffer of Dr. Davis's
proposed testimony, Landry cannot establish prejudice
resulting therefrom. See Clemens, supra, 318 Ga.App.
at 22 (4); Thornton, supra, 300 Ga.App. at 650 (2).
Consequently, she has not met her burden of showing
reversible error in this regard, and we affirm the trial
court's ruling on this issue. See Tolbert v.
Toole, 296 Ga. 357, 363 (3) (767 S.E.2d 24) (2014)
("It is [the appellant]'s burden, as the party
challenging the ruling below, to affirmatively show error
from the record on appeal.") (citation omitted).
Landry challenges the trial court's Second Fee Award
(purportedly made under OCGA § 9-15-14), contending that
no evidence of legal fees incurred by Walsh supported the
award and that the trial court ...