from Jefferson Juvenile Court, Bessemer Division
THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE.
the second time these parties have been before this court.
procedural history of this case is set forth in H.C.
v. S.L., [Ms. 2160304, Sept. 15, 2017] ___ So.3d
___, ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2017), as follows:
"On August 12, 2015, S.L. ('the paternal
grandmother') filed in the Jefferson Juvenile Court,
Bessemer Division ('the juvenile court'), a petition
seeking to have N.L. ('the child') declared dependent
and seeking an award of custody of the child. The juvenile
court entered an order on September 1, 2015, finding the
child dependent and awarding the paternal grandmother
pendente lite custody of the child. A similar order was
entered on October 19, 2015. It is undisputed that H.C.
('the mother') had not been served at the time either
of those orders was entered. The paternal grandmother filed
an amended dependency petition on December 11, 2015.
"The juvenile court conducted a hearing on May 11, 2016,
and July 5, 2016. At the close of that hearing, the juvenile
court orally found the child dependent, cited reasons for
that finding, and scheduled a dispositional hearing for
December 2016, during which, it said, it would receive
additional evidence from the parties. The juvenile court
entered an order on July 8, 2016, in which it found the child
dependent, awarded custody to the paternal grandmother, and
ordered the attorneys for the parties and the child's
guardian ad litem to agree on a visitation schedule for the
mother for the fall of 2016. In that order, the juvenile
court scheduled the dispositional hearing for December 15,
"The juvenile court conducted the dispositional hearing
on December 15, 2016, and December 16, 2016. On December 22,
2016, the juvenile court entered a judgment in which it noted
that the child had previously been found dependent, awarded
custody of the child to the paternal grandmother, and closed
the case. ...[T]he mother timely appealed.
"The mother argue[d] on appeal that the juvenile court
erred in awarding custody of the child to the paternal
grandmother because, she [said], the child was not dependent
at the time the December 22, 2016, dispositional judgment was
court noted that the juvenile court could make a custodial
disposition of the child only if it determined that the child
was dependent at the time it entered the December 22, 2016,
judgment. See H.C. v. S.L., ___ So.3d at ___ (citing
T.B. v. T.H., 30 So.3d 429, 431 (Ala. Civ. App.
2009), and V.W. v. G.W., 990 So.2d 414, 417 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2008)). In its December 22, 2016, judgment, the
juvenile court had not made a finding regarding whether the
child was dependent at the time of that judgment. This court
held that, given the record, we could not conclude that a
dependency determination was implicit in the juvenile
court's December 22, 2016, judgment. ___ So.3d at ___
(citing, among other cases, S.L.M. v. S.C., 171
So.3d 656 (Ala. Civ. App. 2013), and J.P. v. S.S.,
989 So.2d 591, 598 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008)). This court
"This court has reviewed the evidence in the record on
appeal. It is not clear from our review whether the child
remained dependent when the December 22, 2016, dispositional
judgment was entered, and, therefore, this court cannot, as
we did in J.P. v. S.S., supra, interpret the
juvenile court's December 22, 2016, judgment as
containing an implicit dependency determination. We conclude
that the juvenile court must make a determination regarding
whether the child remained dependent at the time the December
22, 2016, judgment was entered."
___ So.3d at ___. Accordingly, we reversed the December 22,
2016, judgment and remanded the cause to the juvenile court
to enter a new judgment.
October 11, 2017, the juvenile court entered a judgment on
remand finding that, at the time of the December 22, 2016,
judgment, the child had remained dependent. The mother again
record indicates the following pertinent facts. The mother
and the father never married, but they lived together in
Colorado. The child was born in Colorado in February 2010,
and the mother, the father, and the child lived there
together for some period. The paternal grandparents, the
maternal grandmother, and the maternal grandfather all live
in Alabama. The maternal grandmother and the maternal
grandfather are divorced.
evidence also indicated that the mother has had difficulty
maintaining a stable residence in Colorado. The mother moves
frequently, often every six months or so, with the exception
of a period of two-and-a-half years during which she lived
with a boyfriend. The child visited Alabama for extended
periods when the mother lived with that boyfriend.
mother has been consistently employed, although she has
changed jobs several times in the years since the child's
birth. At the time the December 22, 2016, judgment was
entered, the mother had been employed, and remained employed,
by the same casino for at least two years.
mother also acknowledged that the Colorado equivalent of the
Department of Human Resources had investigated her on two
occasions during the child's life. According to the
mother, a neighbor was unhappy when she purchased the child
two pet rats, and the neighbor contacted the child-protection
agency. The mother stated that a social worker showed up
unannounced and searched her home but that the social worker
did not see a problem. On the other occasion, the mother left
the child with her roommate, and the child went to a
neighbor's house without the roommate's knowledge.
The mother testified that, on that, occasion, a social worker
questioned her but that the Colorado child-protection agency
did not open an investigation with regard to that incident.
father did not travel to Alabama to attend any of the court
hearings. The mother testified that the father had been
living in a "sober house, " i.e., a transitional
home for those leaving substance-abuse treatment, for
approximately four years. The mother explained that the
father liked the ...