Rule 59.1, Ala. R. Civ. P. - Subject Matter Jurisdiction - Void Judgment

Espinosa v. Hernandez, [Ms. 2170876, Mar. 29, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2019). This unanimous decision by Judge Edwards dismisses the father’s appeal from a January 31, 2018, order of the Madison Circuit Court ordering the father to pay $27,956.02 as a child support arrearage arising from a 2004 judgment of divorce and subsequent 2010 order modifying the father’s child support obligation. The court held that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter the 2018 order and consequently that order was void. Ms. *32.

The circuit court had entered a handwritten order on March 4, 2011, “granting the mother’s postjudgment motion and setting a hearing to determine what parts of the November 2010 order were to be altered or amended.” Ms. *30. Given the open-ended nature of the March 4, 2011, order, the court held that the mother’s December 10, 2010, postjudgment motion was denied by operation of law pursuant to Rule 59.1, Ala. R. Civ. P., many years before the circuit court entered its 2018 judgment finding that the father owed a child support arrearage. Ms. *32.

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