Action to Enforce Divorce Judgment Required New Filing Fee to Vest Jurisdiction

Six years after the parties were divorced, the wife filed a motion to amend a provision in the divorce judgment that awarded her a part of the husband’s retirement benefits. The Court of Civil Appeals deemed this an independent action to enforce the divorce judgment, which should have been accompanied by the appropriate filing fee. Because the wife did not pay that fee, the circuit court never obtained jurisdiction over her action, and the orders it had entered in the case were void. The Court of Civil Appeals dismissed the appeal and instructed the circuit court to vacate its relevant orders. Montgomery v. Montgomery, No. 2080400 (Ala. Civ. App. Oct. 30, 2009).

Continue reading

Lack of Express Postjudgment Ruling Leads to Automatic Denial and Late Appeal

The trial court held a hearing but “did not expressly rule” on a father’s postjudgment motion. Under Rule 59.1, that motion was consequently denied by operation of law 90 days after its filing. An appeal lodged 43 days after the automatic denial was late. Smith v. Smith, No. 2070435 (Ala. Civ. App. Sept. 26, 2008). An earlier order which had “granted the motion in part” — but had really only set it for hearing — was not a “ruling” within the meaning of Rule 59.1.

Continue reading

“No Bright Line” Determines When Mandamus Will Be Treated As Appeal; Late “Enlargement” of Judgment Was Not “Correction” Under Rule 60(a)

The Court of Civil Appeals treated a petition for mandamus as an appeal from the denial of a Rule 60(b)(4) motion for relief from a void order. Weaver v. Weaver, No. 2070778 (Ala. Civ. App. Sept. 26, 2008). Moreover, the trial court’s late attempt to substantively revise its earlier judgment was not a clerical “correction” under Rule 60(a) that could be made after the time for ruling on post-judgment motions had expired.

Continue reading

Pending Contempt Motions Make Custody Modifications Nonfinal

Judgments modifying child custody in two separate cases were not final where they did not dispose of pending motions to hold one parent in contempt. Appeals from the modification orders were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Butler v. Phillips, No. 2070488 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 29, 2008); Greenwood v. Greenwood, No. 2070452 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 29, 2008).

Continue reading

Divorce Judgment Not Final Which Failed to Divide Property or Resolve Alimony

The Court of Civil Appeals dismissed an appeal where the divorce judgment of the circuit court did not divide the parties’ marital property or adjudicate the wife’s claim for alimony. Blythe v. Blythe, No. 2050926 (Ala. Civ. App. June 29, 2007). The judgment was “nonfinal” and the appellate court consequently lacked jurisdiction to review the case.

Continue reading