Dependency Adjudications Constitute Final Appealable Judgments

In M.H. v. W., No. 2080693 (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 15, 2010), the Court of Civil Appeals reviewed the conditions under which a party may appeal from a dependency adjudication.  Quoting P.P. v. Limestone County Dep’t of Human Res., No. 2080544 (Ala. Civ. App. July 2,2009), the Court explained:  "[a]lthough a juvenile court’s orders in a dependency case are, in one sense, never ‘final’ because the court retains jurisdiction to modify its orders upon a showing of changed circumstances, this court has always treated formal dependency adjudications as final and appealable judgments despite the fact that they are scheduled for further review by the juvenile court. ‘Under our caselaw, a formal determination by a juvenile court of a child’s dependency coupled with an award of custody incident to that determination will give rise to an appealable final judgment even if the custody award is denominated as a ‘temporary’ award and further review of the case is envisioned.’"   The Court added, "[i]n juvenile actions, an appeal must be initiated within 14 days of the entry of the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken. Rule 28(C), Ala. R. Juv. P."