J.C. and E.C.
Appeals from Talladega Juvenile Court JU-18-100015.03 and
THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE.
February 2, 2018, B.C.J. and C.J. filed in the Talladega
Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court") petitions
seeking to have J.R.J. and K.M.J. ("the children")
declared dependent and an award of custody of the
children. Those dependency petitions were assigned
case numbers JU-18-100015.01 and JU-18-100016.01 ("the
.01 actions"). The record indicates that B.C.J. is the
half brother of the children. B.C.J. is the son of J.J., the
children's father. N.Z. is the mother of the children. The
testimony of the parties and comments by the juvenile-court
judge indicate that the juvenile court ordered, either orally
or in writing, that B.C.J. and C.J. were awarded pendente
lite custody of the children in March 2018 so that the
children could be enrolled in school.
31, 2018, R.E. and S.E., who are C.J.'s parents, also
filed dependency petitions pertaining to the children, and
those petitions were assigned case numbers JU-18-100015.02
and JU-18-100016.02 ("the .02 actions").
August 30, 2018, J.C. and E.C. filed in the juvenile court
petitions seeking to have the children declared dependent and
an award of custody of the children. J.C. and E.C.'s
dependency petitions were assigned case numbers
JU-18-100015.03 and JU-18-100016.03 ("the .03
actions"). On October 1, 2018, the juvenile court
entered an order in the .02 actions and in one of the .03
actions in which it determined that the children were, at
that time, living in the home of J.C. and E.C., and it
awarded pendente lite custody of the children to J.C. and
juvenile court conducted an ore tenus hearing on all of the
pending actions on November 2, 2018. At that hearing, C.J.
testified that she no longer wished to pursue the .01 actions
because she and B.C.J. had separated; B.C.J. did not appear
at the ore tenus hearing. Also at that hearing, S.E.
testified that, because of family and health reasons, she and
R.E. could no longer prosecute the .02 actions. On November
14, 2018, the juvenile court entered orders dismissing the
.01 actions and the .02 actions. The .03 actions remained
pending at that time.
January 17, 2019, the juvenile court entered judgments in the
.03 actions in which it found the children dependent and
awarded custody of the children to J.C. and E.C. Each parent
filed a postjudgment motion, and the juvenile court entered
an order denying those motions. The mother timely appealed to
this court from the January 17, 2019, judgments; the father
is not a party to these appeals.
time of the November 2, 2018, hearing, K.M.J. was 13 years
old and J.R.J. was 12 years old. The children had lived with
their mother in Florida until December 2017.
testified that the children had come to visit B.C.J. at their
home in Alpine during the week before Christmas 2017 and that
the children had stayed with B.C.J. and C.J. throughout the
holidays. It is undisputed that the mother's housing
situation was unstable at that time. Therefore, C.J. stated,
B.C.J. offered to allow the children to remain in their home
until the mother was more stable. The mother testified that
she agreed to allow the children to remain in Alabama with
B.C.J. and C.J. after December 2017. The .01 actions were
initiated by B.C.J. and C.J. on February 2, 2018.
testified that she and B.C.J. had separated after the .01
actions had been initiated; it appears that that separation
took place in the late spring of 2018. Thereafter, C.J. and
the children moved into the home of C.J.'s parents, R.E.
and S.E., who also reside in Alpine.
C.J.'s mother, testified that the children moved into her
home just before the end of the 2017-2018 school year, in
late May 2018. S.E. explained that she had recognized that
B.C.J. and C.J. could not take care of the children, and,
therefore, she said, she and R.E. had initiated the .02
actions seeking to have the children found dependent and an
award of custody of the children. S.E. testified, however,
that, after the .02 actions were initiated, R.E. suffered a
heart attack. S.E. stated that she and R.E. could no longer
take care of the children because of health reasons and
because of other, unspecified family reasons.
to S.E. and E.C., the children had moved into the home of
J.C. and E.C., who live in Sterrett, in September 2018. S.E.
explained that E.C. is her former stepdaughter and the
half-sister of C.J. and that J.C. is E.C.'s husband. J.C.
and E.C. initiated the .03 actions at around that time, on
August 30, 2018.
appeal of the January 17, 2019, dependency judgments, the
mother argues only that the juvenile court lacked
jurisdiction to enter the January 17, 2019, judgments.
Although this court does not normally consider arguments
asserted for the first time on appeal, arguments related to a
court's subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any
time. R.J.R. v. C.J.S., 72 So.3d 643, 645-46 (Ala.
Civ. App. 2011).
asserting her argument on appeal, the mother relies on the
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
("the UCCJEA"), § 30-3B-101 et seq., Ala. Code
1975. The UCCJEA governs child-custody proceedings, including
dependency actions in which custody or visitation is an
issue. § 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). "In order to
make a custody determination incident to a dependency
determination, a juvenile court ...