B.B. and A.B.
from Lee Juvenile Court (JU-15-303.02)
THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.
("the mother") appeals a judgment of the Lee
Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court") denying her
request for a return of custody of her minor child from B.B.
and A.B. ("the custodians").
record indicates the following pertinent procedural history
and facts. The mother has lived in Colorado for the last 15
years. The child at issue was born in February 2014 in
Colorado. The mother ended her relationship with R.L., who is
the child's alleged father, in January 2015, when the
child was almost 11 months old, and she moved with the child
to a new apartment in the Denver, Colorado,
area. On approximately January 10, 2015, the
mother was arrested for driving under the influence after
being stopped for a minor traffic violation. Following that
arrest, the Colorado Department of Human Services
("CDHS") took the child into protective custody.
Testimony from A.B. indicates that the child spent 19 days in
foster care in Colorado. Thereafter, with the mother's
permission, CDHS contacted the custodians, who live in
Alabama, about serving as a relative placement for the child,
and they agreed to take the child. The child has lived in the
custodians' home since January 29, 2015.
point shortly after the child came to live with them, the
custodians filed a dependency petition in the juvenile court.
The record on appeal in this action does not contain that
dependency petition or indicate the date on which it was
filed. On May 10, 2015, approximately three and a half months
after the child was placed in the custodians' home, the
juvenile court entered a pendente lite order based on the
agreement of the parties. In that May 10, 2015, order, the
juvenile court, among other things, found the child dependent
and awarded pendente lite custody of the child to the
30, 2016, the mother filed a petition in the juvenile court
in which she sought a return of custody of the child. The
juvenile-court clerk docketed that petition as an .02 action,
but it is clear that the mother's request was for a
return of custody in the original dependency action and that
the juvenile court properly treated it as such.
juvenile court conducted an ore tenus hearing. On February
14, 2017, the juvenile court entered a judgment in which it,
among other things, found the child dependent, awarded
custody of the child to the custodians, awarded the mother
visitation, and ordered that the dependency action be
closed. The mother filed a postjudgment motion on
February 16, 2017. The mother filed a notice of appeal before
the juvenile court ruled on that motion and before the motion
could be denied by operation of law. The mother's appeal
was held in abeyance until March 2, 2017, when the
postjudgment motion was deemed denied by operation of law,
and it became effective on that date. Rule 4(a)(5), Ala. R.
App. P.; see also M.G. v. J.T., 90 So.3d 762, 764 n.
2 (Ala. Civ. App. 2012). Thus, the mother's appeal was
mother's appeal focuses on her contention that the
juvenile court's judgment finding the child dependent was
not supported by the evidence. The mother has not addressed
the issue of the juvenile court's subject-matter
jurisdiction to consider the dependency action, and the
custodians did not file a brief in this court. "This
court may not presume ... that a statutory court of limited
jurisdiction, like the juvenile court, ... has the
prerequisite subject-matter jurisdiction over a particular
matter." D.G. v. K.H., 155 So.3d 242, 243 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2013). Rather, this court must take judicial notice
of jurisdictional issues, even ex mero
motu. K.R. v. Lauderdale Cty. Dep't of Human
Res., 133 So.3d 396, 403-04. (Ala. Civ. App. 2013);
M.B.L. v. G.G.L., 1 So.3d 1048, 1050 (Ala. Civ. App.
2008). We note that the parties may not confer jurisdiction
on the juvenile court, even by agreement. K.R. v.
Lauderdale Cty. Dep't of Human Res., 133 So.3d at
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
("UCCJEA"), which is codified in Alabama at §
30-3B-101 et seq., Ala. Code 1975, governs a juvenile
court's subject-matter jurisdiction over child-custody
actions such as this one. According to the UCCJEA, a
"child custody proceeding" is "[a] proceeding
in a court in which legal custody, physical custody, or
visitation with respect to a child is an issue." §
30-3B-102(4), Ala. Code 1975. The term "child custody
proceeding" includes, among other things, "a
proceeding for ... dependency ..., in which the issue [of
custody or visitation] may appear." Id.;
see also M.B.L. v. G.G.L., 1 So.3d at 1050
("The UCCJEA addresses jurisdiction in matters that may
be classified within the definition of a 'child custody
proceeding, ' including dependency proceedings in which
the issue of a child's custody may arise."); and
H.T. v. Cleburne Cty. Dep't of Human Res., 163
So.3d 1054, 1062 (Ala. Civ. App. 2014) (explaining that the
UCCJEA applies to custody proceedings involving a child
alleged to be dependent). A "child custody
determination" is defined under the UCCJEA as "[a]
judgment, decree, or other order of a court providing for the
legal custody, physical custody, or visitation with respect
to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary,
initial, and modification order." § 30-3B-102(3);
see also D.B. v. Coffee Cty. Dep't of Human
Res., 26 So.3d 1239, 1243 (Ala. Civ. App. 2009).
30-3B-201(a), Ala. Code 1975, a part of the UCCJEA sets forth
the exclusive jurisdictional basis for an Alabama court to
exercise jurisdiction over an initial child-custody
determination and provides:
"Except as otherwise provided in Section 30-3B-204,
[Ala. Code 1975, ] a court of this state has jurisdiction to
make an initial child custody determination only if:
"(1) This state is the home state of the child on the
date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home
state of the child within six months before the commencement
of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state but
a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in
"(2) A court of another state does not have jurisdiction
under subdivision (1), or a court of the home state of the
child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground
that this state is the more appropriate forum under Section
30-3B-207 or [Section] 30-3B-208, [Ala. Code 1975, ] and:
"a. The child and the child's parents, or the child
and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have
a significant connection with this state other ...