Can’t Appeal from a Nonfinal Judgment

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has dismissed an appeal from the mother of children whose custody the trial court changed. The dismissal of the appeal came in the case of Sleasman v. Sleasman, Case No. 2030412 (Ala. Civ. App. February 25, 2005), because the trial court had reserved the issue of visitation.

Here’s the trial court’s language:

Based upon the evidence presented, the Court finds that the issue of visitation between the [mother] and the minor children should also be reserved until such time as the [mother] has appeared before the Court and shown that such visitation would be in the best interests of the minor children and provided assurances and/or bond that she will not remove the children from the State of Alabama and fail to return them pursuant to Orders of the Court.

The Court noted that neither party had raised jurisdiction but said that jurisdictional matters “are of such magnitude” that it would raise them ex mero motu (citing Nunn v. Baker, 518 So. 2d 711, 712 (Ala. 1987)). Writing for the Court, Judge Crawley said::

Here, in his petition for custody, the father requested that he be granted custody of both of the parties’ minor children, “subject to reasonable rights of visitation with the [mother].” The trial court, in its order, said “that the issue of visitation between the [mother] and the minor children should also be reserved until such time as the [mother] has appeared before the Court.” That order is not a final judgment. Therefore, it is this court’s duty to dismiss the appeal.

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