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Ex parte Williams

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

May 22, 2015

Ex parte Wallace Williams; (In re: Wallace Williams
v.
Chevon Williams)

          (Russell Circuit Court, DR-12-177).

          PETITION GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; WRIT ISSUED.

         MOORE, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman and Thomas, JJ., concur. Donaldson, J., concurs specially.

          OPINION

Page 1107

         PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

         MOORE, Judge.

         Wallace Williams (" the husband" ) seeks a writ of mandamus from this court directing the Russell Circuit Court (" the trial court" ) to vacate its orders entered in response to the September 27, 2013, postjudgment motion filed by Chevon Williams (" the wife" ) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

         On August 29, 2013, the trial court entered a judgment (" the divorce judgment" ), divorcing the husband and the wife and, among other things, containing provisions regarding custody of the parties' minor child, visitation between the husband and the child, and division of the real and personal property belonging to the parties. On September 27, 2013, the wife filed a postjudgment motion, asserting that the trial court had erred by ordering that the husband's child-support payments were to commence on September 5, 2014, rather than on September 5, 2013; by not entering a child-support withholding order concerning the husband's child-support obligation; by not awarding the wife a portion of the husband's retirement and survivor benefits; by failing to specify in the divorce judgment that the wife was to be entitled to claim the parties' minor child for income-tax purposes; by failing to specify in the divorce judgment which party was to be responsible for the child's health insurance; and by failing to reserve the issue of postminority educational support. The wife also asserted that the husband had violated portions of the divorce judgment and that the evidence presented at trial, and newly discovered evidence, established that the husband had misrepresented to the court the status of the mortgage payments on the marital residence. The husband filed a response to the wife's postjudgment motion.

         On December 18, 2013, the trial court set the wife's postjudgment motion for consideration at a status docket on January 28, 2014. On February 13, 2014, the wife filed a motion for a continuance; the trial court entered an order on February 21, 2014, rescheduling the matter for consideration at a status docket on March 26, 2014. On June 27, 2014, the trial court entered an order setting the wife's motion for a hearing on August 26, 2014. On August 26, 2014, the trial court granted the wife's motion for a continuance and reset the hearing for October 2, 2014. On October 2, 2014, the trial court entered an order granting, in part, the wife's postjudgment motion and amending the divorce judgment to provide that the payment of child support was to begin on September 5, 2013, rather than on September 5, 2014, as had been stated in the divorce judgment. The trial court later amended that order on October 6 and 9, 2014, to correct clerical errors. In each of those orders, the trial court noted that the remaining issues raised in the wife's postjudgment motion would be heard at a later date.

         On March 4, 2015, the husband filed in the trial court a " motion to vacate orders and motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." In his motion, the husband argued that the wife's postjudgment motion had been denied by

Page 1108

operation of law on December 26, 2013,[1] that the trial court's orders of October 2, October 6, and October 9, 2014 (" the October 2014 orders" ), were therefore void, and that all issues raised in the mother's postjudgment motion -- with the exception of the issue concerning the clerical error regarding the starting date for the child-support obligation, which the husband conceded was susceptible to the trial court's review pursuant to Rule 60(a), Ala. R. Civ. P. -- were no longer pending before the trial court after December 26, 2013. The trial court entered an order on March 5, 2015, which stated, in pertinent part:

" 2. That the [wife's postjudgment motion] was filed on September 27, 2013. The Court continued the Motion at the request of both parties and finally entered an Order addressing a portion of the Motion on October 6, 2014, and again on October 9, 2014, and in each Order issued in October 2014 the Court indicated that the remaining issues would be heard at a later date.
" 3. That [the husband] moved to dismiss all other issues and in support thereof argued that all other issues ... were denied by operation of law on December 27th, 2013,[2] pursuant to Rule 59.1, Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court denies this motion and finds that on October 9, 2014, the parties appeared with previous counsel and agreed for the issues raised in [the wife's] post-judgment motion to be set for a hearing. The Court finds that this was ...

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