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S.F. v. R.L.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

June 7, 2019

S.F.,
v.
R.L. and A.L.

Page 889

          Appeal from Geneva Juvenile Court (JU-11-378.02)

          William J. Moore , Enterprise, for appellant.

          David F. Holmes , Slocumb, for appellees.

         MOORE, Judge.

         S.F. ("the mother") appeals from a judgment of the Geneva Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court") declining to transfer custody of her child, S.A.B. ("the child"), to her from R.L. and A.L. ("the custodians") and finding the mother in contempt. We dismiss the mother's appeal.

         Procedural History

         On May 24, 2018, the mother filed a petition to modify custody of the child. She asserted, among other things, that the custodians had been awarded custody of the child on February 17, 2012, and that there had been a material change of circumstances such that the mother should be awarded custody of the child. The mother attached to her petition an order of the juvenile court dated February 18, 2014, indicating that the juvenile court had previously adjudicated the child dependent on February 17, 2012, pursuant to a dependency petition that had been filed by the custodians and that the juvenile court had awarded custody of the child to the custodians at that time. In its February 18, 2014, order, the juvenile court denied a previous petition to modify custody of the child that had been filed by the mother. The mother also attached to her petition a July 21, 2014, order of the juvenile court awarding the mother specified visitation with the child.

         The custodians filed a response to the mother's modification petition on June 7, 2018. On August 22, 2018, the custodians filed an amended response to the mother's modification petition. That amended response also included a counterpetition seeking a finding of contempt against the mother for her failure to pay child support as "previously ordered," enforcement of the mother's child-support obligation, and an order requiring the mother to return the child following her visitation with the child. The custodians filed a second amended response to the mother's petition on August 27, 2018, correcting certain dates referenced in the first amended response.

         A trial was conducted on October 30, 2018. On November 15, 2018, the juvenile court entered a judgment finding that the mother had failed to meet the standard for a modification of custody outlined in Ex parte McLendon, 455 So.2d 863 (Ala. 1984), and denying the mother's petition for a modification of custody. With regard to the custodians' counterpetition, the juvenile court stated:

"With regard to the contempt [p]etition, the counterclaim by the [custodians], the Court finds that there is sufficient evidence to find that the mother. . . has failed to provide child support as ordered and she is employed and is able to provide support as ordered. The Court also finds that the mother has also violated the visitation order in this case. An Income Withholding Order shall be issued in this case if one has not been entered and the mother . . . shall pay a purge for contempt in the amount [of] $ 500 by December 13, 2018, or appear for a hearing at 9:00 a.m. on December 13, 2018. Failure to appear or pay may result in the Court placing the mother. . . in the Geneva County Jail for contempt."

         The mother filed her notice of appeal to this court on November 27, 2018. This court issued an order calling for letter briefs from the parties on the issue of the finality of the juvenile court's November 15, 2018, judgment.

         Analysis

"Although neither party has raised the issue of this court's ...


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