from Winston Circuit Court (DR-11-86.02)
Bray ("the father") appeals from the judgment of
the Winston Circuit Court ("the trial court")
granting Jennifer Bray (Schafer) ("the mother")
sole physical custody of the parties' children ("the
children"). We dismiss the appeal because it was taken
from a nonfinal judgment.
and Procedural History
November 9, 2013, the father filed a complaint seeking a
modification of the judgment divorcing him and the mother and
also a finding of contempt against the mother. The mother
answered and asserted a counterclaim seeking a modification
of custody to grant her sole physical custody of the children
and child support from the father. On June 28, 2017, after a
trial, the trial court entered a judgment granting sole
physical custody of the children to the mother, granting
visitation to the father, and ordering the father to pay the
mother child support. Although the judgment modified the
divorce judgment in other respects, the judgment did not
include a ruling on the father's contempt claim.
5, 2017, the father filed a motion to reconsider the
judgment, requesting a hearing. On July 26, 2017, the father
filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate the judgment or, in
the alternative, a motion for a new trial, again requesting a
hearing on the motion. The trial court did not conduct a
hearing or rule on the father's motions.
October 23, 2017, the father filed a notice of appeal to this
court. On appeal, the father contends that the denial of his
July 26, 2017, motion by the operation of law, without a
hearing, was reversible error and that insufficient evidence
supports the trial court's modification of
threshold matter, we must determine whether we have
jurisdiction over this appeal.
"'Even though the issue has not been addressed by
either party, this court must first determine whether it has
jurisdiction over this appeal. "Jurisdictional matters
are of such importance that a court may take notice of them
ex mero motu." McMurphy v. East Bay
Clothiers, 892 So.2d 395, 397 (Ala. Civ. App. 2004).
"[T]he question whether a judgment is final is a
Johnson v. Johnson, 835 So.2d 1032, 1034 (Ala. Civ.
App. 2002). "A final judgment is one that disposes of
all the claims and controversies between the parties."
Heaston v. Nabors, 889 So.2d 588, 590 (Ala. Civ.
Martin v. Cowart, 84 So.3d 114, 115 (Ala. Civ. App.
2011) (quoting Decker v. Decker, 984 So.2d 1216,
1219 (Ala. Civ. App. 2007)); see Wesley v. Brandon,
419 So.2d 257, 258 (Ala. Civ. App. 1982) (quoting Sexton
v. Sexton, 280 Ala. 479, 481, 195 So.2d 531, 533 (1967))
(observing that whether an order is final may be phrased as
whether there is "'something more for the [trial]
court to do'").
case, the father filed a complaint seeking, among other
things, a finding of contempt against the mother, and he
reasserted that claim at trial. The judgment did not dispose
of the father's contempt claim. Therefore, the
father's appeal was taken from a nonfinal judgment. See
Martin v. Cowart, 84 So.3d at 116 (holding that a
judgment lacking a disposition of a party's contempt
petition rendered the judgment nonfinal). Accordingly, we
dismiss the appeal. See Nicke v. Minter, 195 So.3d
274, 278 ...