Ex parte C.L.L.M.
A.D.L. In re: C.L.L.M.
Circuit Court, DR-17-900125.
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
("the father") petitions this court for a writ of
mandamus directing the Limestone Circuit Court ("the
trial court") to vacate the order transferring the
action to the Juvenile Court of Tuscaloosa County. For the
reasons set forth below, we deny the petition.
materials submitted by the parties indicate the following. On
March 27, 2017, A.D.L. ("the mother") gave birth to
L.T.L. ("the child") in a hospital in Madison
County. On March 28, 2017, the mother executed forms
relinquishing custody of the child to an organization in
anticipation of adoption proceedings. On March 28, 2017, the
father contacted the organization and expressed his objection
to the adoption proceedings and his claim of paternity of the
child. On April 4, 2017, the father filed a written notice of
his intent to claim paternity of the child by registering
with the Alabama Putative Father Registry. See §
26-10C-1, Ala. Code 1975.
April 6, 2017, the father filed a petition against the mother
in the trial court, seeking to establish paternity, to obtain
custody of the child, and to receive child-support payments
from the mother. See § 26-17-104, Ala. Code 1975;
Brock v. Herd, 187 So.3d 1161, 1163-64 (Ala. Civ.
App. 2015). In the petition, the father alleged that he and
the mother were residents of Limestone County, that they had
had sexual relations, and that they had resided together for
two years until on or about March 10, 2017, when the mother
vacated their residence. The father further alleged that,
after the child was born, the mother and the child both
tested positive for an illegal substance, that the mother
left the hospital without taking the child with her, and that
the mother was attempting to evade arrest for the charge of
chemical endangerment of the child. The father also alleged
that the mother took the action of placing the child for
adoption without his knowledge.
April 10, 2017, the trial court entered an order directing
the father and the child to be tested for paternity under the
supervision of the Limestone County Department of Human
April 12, 2017, J.T.L. and K.D.L. ("the prospective
adoptive parents") initiated an action to adopt the
child in the Shelby Probate Court ("the adoption
case"). The father filed an answer and a counterclaim in
the adoption case, which is still pending.
5, 2017, and June 21, 2017, the father filed motions in the
trial court seeking an amended order for paternity testing.
On June 29, 2017, the trial court entered an amended order
for paternity testing. The results of the paternity testing
indicate a 99.99% probability that the father is the
biological father of the child.
August 24, 2017, an attorney representing the child filed a
motion in the trial court seeking to transfer the action to
Tuscaloosa County. The motion included the following
assertions: the child has resided in Tuscaloosa County with
the prospective adoptive parents since the child's
release from the hospital on April 9, 2017; the Shelby
Probate Court entered an interlocutory order placing custody
of the child with the prospective adoptive parents; the
father has contested the prospective adoptive parents'
petition to adopt the child; and the prospective adoptive
parents are expected to initiate proceedings addressing
issues related to the present action in, or to seek a
transfer of another action with related issues to, a court
with juvenile jurisdiction in Tuscaloosa County. The attorney
representing the child filed a brief in support of the
motion, asserting that Limestone County was an improper venue
or, in the alternative, that the action should be transferred
to Tuscaloosa County pursuant to the doctrine of forum non
August 25, 2017, the father filed an objection to the motion
to transfer. His objection included the following assertions:
he did not consent to an adoption of the child; the child
lacked the capacity to file the motion to transfer; he filed
the petition in the present action before the release of the
child from the hospital; and both he and the mother reside in
Limestone County. In addition to his request to dismiss the
motion to transfer, the father requested that the trial court
appoint a guardian ad litem for the child.
October 6, 2017, without appointing a guardian ad litem, the
trial court entered an order transferring the action to a
court in Tuscaloosa County with juvenile jurisdiction. On
October 30, 2017, the father filed the present petition for a
writ of mandamus. An answer in opposition to the petition was
filed by the attorney representing the child.
"A petition for the writ of mandamus is the appropriate
means by which to challenge a trial court's order
regarding a change of venue. Ex parte Sawyer, 892
So.2d 898, 901 (Ala. 2004). The writ of mandamus is an
extraordinary remedy; it will not be issued unless the
petitioner shows '"'(1) a clear legal right in
the petitioner to the order sought; (2) an imperative duty
upon the respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to
do so; (3) the lack of another adequate remedy; and (4)
properly invoked jurisdiction of the court.'"'
Ex parte Inverness Constr. Co., 775 So.2d 153, ...