So says the Alabama Court of Appeals (again) in Hicks v. Davis. The effect of this case being that the parties, their attorneys, and the court wasted a lot of time fighting for custody in Circuit Court, when the matter should have been in the Juvenile Court. In Alabama, What happens in Juvenile Court stays in Juvenile Court.
Several years before the opinion from the Court of Civil Appeals, the State of Alabama started a child support action in juvenile court for the parties’ child. As part of the decision in that juvenile case, the Mother was awarded child support, however nothing was said about custody. Years later, Mother and Father filed dueling petitions in Circuit Court, each asking to be custody of their child. When the ruling was not as favorable to Mother as she hoped, she appealed claiming the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction.
The Alabama Court of appeals agreed with Mother. According to the appellate court there was an implicit award of custody to Mother when she was awarded child support by the Juvenile Court. Since custody had been awarded in Juvenile Court, that court was required to “retain jurisdiction.” The Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction and therefore its orders (almost a year old at this point) were voided.
Read the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals opinion here, and contact the lawyers of Browne House Law about your custody modification or appeal.