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J.P. v. T.H.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

December 12, 2014

J.P.
v.
T.H

Appeal from Baldwin Juvenile Court. (JU-14-521.01).

AFFIRMED.

For Appellant: Kenneth R. Raines and W. Lee Webb of Raines Law Firm, Fairhope.

For Appellee: W. Donald Bolton, Jr., and John E. Bolton of W. Donald Bolton, Jr., P.C., Foley.

Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 682

MOORE, Judge.

J.P., the paternal grandmother of E.T.N. (" the child" ), filed a petition for a writ of mandamus compelling the Baldwin Juvenile Court (" the juvenile court" ) to vacate its order, entered on September 10, 2014, awarding T.H. (" the mother" ) custody of the child and to enter an order placing custody of the child with her. We treat the petition as an appeal and affirm the order.

Background

On July 23, 2014, J.P. (" the grandmother" ) initiated a dependency action regarding the child; she also sought custody of the child. On August 18, 2014, the mother filed a motion alleging that the grandmother had absconded with the child and seeking custody of the child. On August 20, 2014, after amending her petition, the grandmother filed an " emergency petition for immediate temporary custody."

On September 2, 2014, the juvenile court conducted a hearing on the dueling requests for custody. At that hearing, the juvenile court heard oral testimony from a representative of the Baldwin County Department of Human Resources, P.N. (" the father" ), the mother, and the grandmother. On September 10, 2014, the juvenile court entered an order adjudicating the paternity of the child, awarding the mother custody of the child, awarding the father a schedule of supervised visitation, directing the father and the mother to separately engage in psychological counseling and to submit to random drug screens, and prohibiting the mother and the father from having any contact with one another pending the final hearing.

The grandmother filed her mandamus petition on September 24, 2014. In her petition, she asserts that she is entitled to temporary custody of the child because the parents are unfit to care for the child and that it is in the best interests of the child to be in her custody.

Analysis

Before proceeding to the merits, we first consider the nature of the order entered by the juvenile court. The juvenile court acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over the case through its dependency jurisdiction. See Ala. Code 1975, § 12-15-114(a). After the mother sought return of the child from the grandmother, the grandmother filed an " emergency" petition for temporary custody of the child, alleging that the child was in imminent threat of physical harm due to the mental and physical instability of the mother. Alabama Code 1975, § 12-15-138, provides that a juvenile court may, on an emergency basis, ...


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