from Houston Circuit Court (DR-17-214)
THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE.
12, 2014, the Houston County Department of Human Resources
("DHR"), on behalf of T.M. ("the
mother"), filed a complaint in the Houston Juvenile
Court ("the juvenile court") seeking to domesticate
a November 15, 2013, judgment of the Circuit Court of
Montgomery County, Maryland ("the Maryland court").
The Maryland court's judgment awarded the mother custody
of the minor child born of her relationship with A.B.
("the father"), ordered the father to pay child
support, and awarded the mother a $2, 598 judgment on the
father's child-support arrearage. Also on May 12, 2014,
DHR filed, on behalf of the mother, a petition seeking to
have the father held in contempt for his failure to pay child
support pursuant to the Maryland court's November 15,
February 3, 2015, the juvenile court entered an order
domesticating the Maryland court's November 15, 2013,
judgment. On February 4, 2015, the juvenile court entered an
order finding the father in contempt for failure to pay child
support, and it scheduled a hearing to determine the amount
of the child-support arrearage. On December 8, 2015, the
juvenile court entered a judgment on the contempt petition,
determining that the father was $13, 423 in arrears in his
child-support obligation and awarding the mother a judgment
in that amount.
issue of the father's alleged contempt for failure to pay
child support and the enforcement of that obligation
continued to be litigated in the juvenile court after the
entry of the December 8, 2015, judgment. On August 25, 2016,
the juvenile court entered an order stating that the father
had failed to appear at a scheduled show-cause hearing, and
it ordered that a writ of arrest for the father be issued.
The father filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in this
court with regard to the August 25, 2016, order and another
order that had been entered in April 2016. On September 29,
2016, this court dismissed the petition as untimely insofar
as it pertained to the April 2016 order and denied the
petition with regard to the August 25, 2016, order.
September 15, 2016, the father filed in the juvenile court a
Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., motion for relief from judgment.
The father sought relief from the February 3, 2015, judgment
domesticating the Maryland court's November 15, 2013,
judgment and from the December 8, 2015, judgment on the
contempt petition. The juvenile court scheduled a hearing on
that motion for June 27, 2017.
27, 2017, the juvenile court entered a judgment in which it
noted that the father had failed to appear at the scheduled
hearing, and it denied the father's Rule 60(b) motion. We
note that, in that judgment, the juvenile court also ordered
that a writ of arrest be issued for the father based on
information it received at the hearing concerning the
father's continued failure to pay child support. The
juvenile court did not certify that the record was adequate
for an appeal to this court and did not certify that only
questions of law are involved, and the father filed a notice
of appeal to the Houston Circuit Court ("the trial
court") on July 10, 2017. See M.C. v. L.J.H.,
868 So.2d 465, 467 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003) (citing Rule
28(A)(1), Ala. R. Juv. P., and holding that, in the absence
of a certification of the record as being adequate for an
appeal to this court or of a certification that only
questions of law are involved, the appeal of a denial of a
Rule 60(b) motion filed in the juvenile court is to the
circuit court); see also Terry v. Frisbee, 404 So.2d
345, 346 (Ala. Civ. App. 1981) ("[T]he denial of a
[R]ule 60(b) motion by a district court is a final order or
judgment, which, pursuant to § 12-12-71, [Ala. Code
1975, ] must on its face be appealed to the circuit
court" unless the exceptions in § 12-12-71 apply).
Given the posture of this case, the father properly appealed
the denial of his Rule 60(b) motion to the trial court.
trial court designated the appeal to that court from the
juvenile court's June 27, 2017, judgment as case number
DR-17-214. In the trial court, on October 5, 2017, the father
filed a document titled "sworn motion for judgment"
that, in substance, elaborated on the arguments asserted in
his September 15, 2016, Rule 60(b) motion.
September 21, 2018, the trial court entered a judgment in
which it noted that its review of the matter was confined to
determining whether the juvenile court had erred in denying
the father's Rule 60(b) motion. This court has explained:
"The appeal to the circuit court was from the district
court's denial of the Rule 60(b) motion. Such an appeal
is for trial de novo. Walker v. Eubanks, 424 So.2d
631 (Ala. Civ. App. 1982). In other words, the de novo appeal
is as if the district court's judgment denying the Rule
60(b) motion had never been entered. The circuit court views
the petition and its supporting material on their merits as
to whether relief should be granted under Rule 60(b).
Evans v. Sharp, 617 So.2d 1039, 1040 (Ala. Civ. App.
1993). See also Ruzic v. State ex rel. Thornton, 866
So.2d 564, 568 n. 4 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003), abrogated on
other grounds by F.G. v. State Dep't of Human
Res., 988 So.2d 555, 570 n. 4 (Ala. Civ. App. 20017)
("When an appeal is properly taken from the district
court's ruling on a motion for relief from a judgment
pursuant to Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., the circuit
court's function is simply to review the motion 'and
its supporting material on their merits [so] as to
[determine] whether relief should be granted under Rule
60(b).'" (quoting Evans v. Sharp, 617 So.2d
at 1040)). The trial court determined that there was no basis
for relief available to the father under Rule 60(b), and it
"denied" that motion, i.e., it affirmed the
judgment of the juvenile court that had denied the
father's Rule 60(b) motion.
September 27, 2018, the father filed a purported postjudgment
motion pursuant to Rule 59(e), Ala. R. Civ. P. On that same
date, the trial court entered an order purporting to deny the
September 27, 2018, motion. The father filed a notice of
appeal to this court on October 9, 2018.
party has addressed this court's jurisdiction to consider
this appeal. However, jurisdictional issues are of such
significance that this court takes notice of them, even
ex mero motu. Heaston v. Nabors, 889 So.2d
588, 590 (Ala. Civ. App. 2004).
case was initiated as a child-support action designated as a
"CS" action in the juvenile court. Accordingly, the
Rules of Juvenile Procedure apply to govern the action.
A.F. v. S.R., 209 So.3d 511, 514 (Ala. Civ. App.
2016); J.J. v. R.R., 159 So.3d 84, 85 (Ala. Civ.
App. 2014); and M.C. v. L.J.H., supra. In an appeal
to the circuit court of a juvenile-court judgment, the Rules
of Juvenile Procedure apply. Rule 1(B), Ala. R. Juv. P.;
J.F.M. v. C.W.B., 72 So.3d 663, 665 (Ala. Civ. App.
2011); W.C.R. v. D.A.L., 18 So.3d 420, 422 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2009); and M.C. v. L.J.H., supra. The
father had 14 days, or until October 5, 2018, to appeal ...