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Ex parte Van Jones

Supreme Court of Alabama

February 27, 2015

Ex parte Gerald Van Jones; In re: Gerald Van Jones
v.
Gaynor Jones

          (Montgomery Circuit Court, DR-97-168.03; Court of Civil Appeals, 2121046 and 2130709).

         For Petitioner: James E. Long, Montgomery.

          OPINION

Page 339

         PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS.

         STUART, Justice.

         Gerald Van Jones, the father, contends that the Court of Civil Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's order awarding postminority educational support for his son, Garrette Jones. We reverse and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The Montgomery Circuit Court entered a final judgment divorcing the father and Gaynor Jones, the mother, on January 8, 1998. During their marriage, the father and the mother had two children, Garrette and Gabrielle. In August 2011, the mother petitioned the trial court for postminority educational support for Garrette. After conducting a trial, the trial court entered an order on April 26, 2013, awarding the mother postminority educational support for Garrette. After the postjudgment motions were disposed, the father filed a timely notice of appeal with the Court of Civil Appeals on September 10, 2013.

         The Court of Civil Appeals on April 11, 2014, entered an order reinvesting the trial court with jurisdiction for 14 days for the sole purpose of entering an amount or percentage of postminority educational support. Jones v. Jones (2121046). On April 18, 2014, the trial court entered an order requiring the father to pay 100% of Garrette's postminority educational support. The father, out of " an abundance of caution," then moved the Court of Civil Appeals for permission to appeal the April 18, 2014, order. The Court of Civil Appeals granted the father permission to appeal the April 18, 2014, order (case no. 2130709) and consolidated the father's two appeals. On September 12, 2014, the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment in both appeals, without an opinion, but with a dissent from Judge Thomas. Jones v. Jones, [Ms. 2121046 & 2130709, September 12, 2014] __ So.3d __, 181 So.3d 337, (Ala.Civ.App. 2014). Judge Thomas, in her dissent, states:

" I respectfully dissent as to the affirmance of the trial court's award of postminority educational support. On October 4, 2013, our supreme court released Ex parte Christopher, 145 So.3d 60 (Ala. 2013), in which our supreme court expressly overruled Ex parte Bayliss, 550 So.2d 986 (Ala. 1989). In overruling Bayliss, our supreme court specifically held that,

Page 340

" '[a]lthough [this] decision does not affect final orders of postminority educational support already entered, our overruling of Bayliss is applicable to all future cases. Further, this decision also applies to current cases where no final postminority-support order has been entered or where an appeal from a postminority-support order is still pending.'
" Christopher, 145 So.3d at 72 (emphasis added).
" ... [A]t the time Christopher was decided, this case was on appeal in this court and no final judgment awarding postminority educational support had been entered.
" As I explained in my special writing in Morgan v. Morgan, [Ms. 2120101, July 11, 2014] __ So.3d __, __ (Ala.Civ. 2014) (Thomas, J., concurring in part and concurring in the result in part), the above-quoted language in Christopher plainly states that the holding in Christopher is applicable to any case in which an appeal of a postminority-educational-support order was pending at the time the supreme court's opinion in Christopher was released. Furthermore, our supreme court clearly stated that the holding in Christopher applied 'to current cases where no final postminority-support order has been entered.'145 So.3d at 72 (emphasis added). ... Therefore, based on the supreme court's holding in Christopher that 'the child-custody statute does not authorize a court in a divorce action to require a noncustodial ...

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