B.B. and A.B.
Appeals from Lee Juvenile Court (JU-15-303.01, JU-15-303.02,
THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.
the second time M.B. ("the mother") and B.B. and
A.B. ("the custodians") have been before this
court. In our earlier opinion, we set forth the procedural
history as follows:
"The 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."
M.B. v. B.B., [Ms. 2160373, Aug. 4, 2017] __So.
3d__, __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2017) (footnotes omitted).
17, 2015, the custodians filed a petition in the Lee Juvenile
Court ("the juvenile court") seeking to have the
child declared dependent and requesting an award of custody
of the child. That action was designated as case number
JU-15-303.01. On July 24, 2015, the juvenile court entered a
pendente lite order in case number JU-15-303.01 in which it,
among other things, found the child to be dependent and
awarded custody of the child to the custodians. In that July
24, 2015, order, the juvenile court specified that, if the
issue of dependency was not resolved or if a "request
for a return of custody" was not filed before July 1,
2016, the July 24, 2015, order would become
30, 2016, the mother filed a petition seeking the return of
custody of the child. The juvenile-court clerk designated
that petition as initiating case number JU-15-303.02;
however, as this court noted in M.B. v. B.B., __So.
3d at__, "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."
The juvenile court conducted an ore tenus hearing, and on
February 14, 2017, the juvenile court entered a judgment in
case number JU-15-303.02 in which it again found the child to
be dependent, awarded custody of the child to the custodians,
and ordered that the action be closed. The mother timely
appealed that judgment. M.B. v. B.B., supra. This
court reversed the February 14, 2017, judgment and remanded
the cause to the juvenile court for the juvenile court to
examine and determine whether it had subject-matter
jurisdiction. M.B. v. B.B., supra.
M.B. v. B.B., supra, this court, ex mero motu,
questioned the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to consider
the dependency action, including the mother's petition
seeking the return of custody, and to enter a judgment
finding the child to be dependent. In that opinion, this
court noted that the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"), § 30-3B-101 et
seq., Ala. Code 1975, governs custody actions, including
dependency actions. M.B. v. B.B., __So. 3d at__
(citing § 30-3B-102(4), Ala. Code 1975; M.B.L. v.
G.G.L., 1 So.3d 1048, 1050 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008); and
H.T. v. Cleburne Cty. Dep't of Human Res., 163
So.3d 1054, 1062 (Ala. Civ. App. 2014)). This court observed
that because the child had not been in Alabama for six months
at the time the dependency action was filed, "[i]t did
not appear that" Alabama "could be said to be the
child's 'home state' under" the UCCJEA and,
therefore, that the record did not demonstrate that the
juvenile court had jurisdiction to resolve that
action. M.B. v. B.B., So.3d at . However,
this court noted that the juvenile court could exercise
emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA and that, under
certain conditions, that emergency jurisdiction might ripen
into subject-matter jurisdiction over the dependency action.
M.B. v. B.B., supra. This court explained:
"We acknowledge that, under certain circumstances, an
Alabama court may take actions pertaining to a child under
the emergency-jurisdiction provision of the UCCJEA.
See § 30-3B-204, Ala. Code 1975. However,
'a juvenile court exercising temporary emergency
jurisdiction under § 30-3B-204 does not have
jurisdiction to adjudicate dependency and award custody by
virtue of the limited jurisdiction provided to it.'
J.D. v. Lauderdale Cty. Dep't of Human Res., 121
So.3d 381, 385 (Ala. Civ. App. 2013). ... However, in order
to properly exercise subject-matter jurisdiction after
utilizing emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA, the
juvenile court would have had to comply with the requirements
of § 30-3B-204, including provisions specifying that it
communicate with a Colorado court that might have exercised
jurisdiction over the child. The record before this court
contains no indication that the juvenile court has done
M.B. v. B.B., So.3d at (footnote omitted). This
court reversed the February 14, 2017, judgment in case number
JU-15-303.02 and remanded the cause for the juvenile court to
conduct further proceedings and to receive further evidence,
if necessary, to determine whether it could properly exercise
subject-matter jurisdiction over the proceedings in the
juvenile court. M.B. v. B.B., So.3d at . This
court's opinion concluded:
"[G]iven the lack of evidence in this case pertaining to
whether the juvenile court properly exercised jurisdiction
over the dependency action, we reverse the judgment of the
juvenile court and remand the cause for a timely
determination by the juvenile court, based, if necessary, on
its receipt of additional evidence, on the issue of its
jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. D.B. v. Coffee Cty.
Dep't of Human Res., [26 So.3d 1239 (Ala. Civ. App.
2009)]; M.J.P. v. K.H., 923 So.2d 1114, 1117 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2005)."
M.B. v. B.B., __So. 3d at __.
remand, the juvenile court ordered the parties to gather
information on the issue of whether there existed any past or
current proceedings concerning the child in the Colorado
courts, and it scheduled a hearing for September 5, 2017. On
September 1, 2017, the mother filed a motion to set aside or
vacate the juvenile court's orders in the dependency
action on the basis of a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
September 5, 2017, the juvenile court conducted a hearing at
which it heard the arguments of the parties' attorneys.
The juvenile court did not receive any evidence at that
September 5, 2017, hearing. Also on September 5, 2017, the
custodians initiated a new action, designated as case number
JU-15-303.03, in ...