from Montgomery Juvenile Court (JU-13-758.05)
("the adoptive mother") appeals from an order
entered by the Montgomery Juvenile court ("the juvenile
court") setting aside an award of attorney's fees in
an adoption case. We reverse the juvenile court's order.
January 22, 2015, the adoptive mother filed in the Montgomery
Probate Court a petition to adopt T.B. ("the
child"). On February 10, 2015, the probate court
transferred the adoption proceeding to the juvenile court.
See Ala. Code 1975, § 26-10A-21. T.N.B.
("the father") filed a contest to the adoption on
April 30, 2015.
April 8, 2016, the adoptive mother filed a "Motion for
Award of Fees and Expenses, " requesting that the
juvenile court require the father to pay her "legal
costs, " pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, §
26-10A-24(i). On April 29, 2016, the adoptive mother
personally served the father with the motion and notice that
the juvenile court would hear the motion on May 13, 2016. On
May 12, 2016, the adoptive mother filed a "Final
Disclosure of Disbursements, " designating the fees and
expenses for which she sought reimbursement, including her
13, 2016, following a hearing at which the father did not
appear, the juvenile court entered a judgment denying the
father's adoption contest and approving the adoptive
mother's "Final Disclosure of Disbursements."
The juvenile court entered an order granting the adoptive
mother's petition to adopt the child on May 16, 2016. (C.
339). That same day, the attorney for the adoptive mother
sent a letter to the juvenile court arguing that the term
"legal costs" in § 26-10A-24(i) included
attorney's fees and requesting that the juvenile court
order the father to pay the adoptive mother's
attorney's fees. On May 17, 2016, the juvenile court
entered an order granting the adoptive mother's
"Motion for [Award of] Fees and Expenses." The next
day, the juvenile court ordered the father to pay $23, 450.00
in attorney's fees to the adoptive mother.
28, 2016, the father filed a letter with the juvenile court
requesting that the juvenile court "set aside" the
order requiring him to pay the adoptive mother's
attorney's fees due to his poverty. The juvenile court
entered an order on June 29, 2016, setting aside the order
requiring the father to pay the adoptive mother's
attorney's fees. On June 30, 2016, the adoptive mother
filed a motion requesting that the juvenile court vacate its
June 29, 2016, order. On July 8, 2016, the juvenile court
entered an order denying the adoptive mother's motion. In
its July 8, 2016, order, the juvenile court stated that the
father had not had notice or an opportunity to be heard with
regard to the adoptive mother's request for
attorney's fees, and, therefore, the juvenile court
concluded, the award of attorney's fees was void. The
juvenile court also found that "legal costs" under
§ 26-10A-24(i) did not include attorney's fees. The
adoptive mother timely filed her notice of appeal to this
court on July 8, 2016.
adoption case is transferred to the juvenile court, the
Alabama Rules of Juvenile Procedure govern. See State
Dep't of Human Res. v. Smith, 567 So.2d 333, 334
(Ala. Civ. App. 1990). Rule 1(B), Ala. R. Juv. P., provides,
in pertinent part, that "[a]ll postjudgment motions ...
must be filed within 14 days after entry of order or
judgment." However, Rule 1(B) does not apply to motions
filed under Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., which are considered
collateral attacks on a final judgment of a juvenile court.
See M.E.W. v. J.W., 142 So.3d 1168, 1172 (Ala. Civ.
case, the juvenile court entered its final judgment awarding
the adoptive mother attorney's fees on May 17, 2016. The
father filed his letter, which the juvenile court treated as
a motion to set aside the award of attorney's fees, on
June 28, 2016, more than 14 days after entry of the final
judgment. Thus, the juvenile court had no jurisdiction to
consider that motion unless it could be characterized as a
Rule 60(b) motion.
60(b) provides, in pertinent part:
"On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court
may relieve a party or a party's legal representative
from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following
reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable
neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence
could not have been discovered in time to move for a new
trial under Rule 59(b)[, Ala. R. Civ. P.]; (3) fraud (whether
heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic),
misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;
(4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been
satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon
which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or
it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have
prospective application; or (6) any other reason justifying
relief from the operation of the judgment."
letter, the father requested that the juvenile court vacate
the May 17, 2016, judgment because he could not afford to pay
the attorney's fees. The letter did not set out any of