Child Support Appeal from Non-Final Judgment Improper

When a case doesn’t go your way, you’re not out of options – you can appeal! However, the rules on how to appeal can be a bit tricky. Specifically, the judgment you’re appealing from must be final in order to be heard by a new court.

Recently, the Court of Civil Appeals addressed whether a husband could make an appeal from a temporary award of child support. The wife filed for divorce in February 2016, after her husband had been charged with two felonies.

In May 2016, the trial court entered a temporary order requiring the husband to pay $600 per month to the wife in child support for their children. In November 2016, the trial court entered an order divorcing the parties and ordering that the May 2016 order relating to child custody and child support remain in effect until the husband’s criminal cases were resolved.

In March 2017, the husband was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony. After a trial on the matter, the court entered a “Final Order” in July 2017, terminating the husband’s visitation with the children and dividing the parties’ property. Any other provisions from the November 2016 order were to remain in effect. The husband filed a post judgment motion, challenging the judgment’s failure to address child support. The motion was denied. The husband appealed.

The husband’s argument before the Court of Civil Appeals was that the trial court was wrong to require him to pay $600 per month in child support. However, the Court pointed out that this award was temporary and ended as soon as he was sentenced to prison.

As to the July 2017 order not addressing child support, this means that the trial court has not completely decided all the matters in controversy (i.e. child support) and thus its judgment is not “final.” Because the July 2017 order is not a final order, the husband could not make an appeal based off of that order. The Court of Civil Appeals dismissed the appeal.

The main takeaway from this case is that in order to make an appeal, the court must have fully decided on the issues. The husband, in this instance, was unable to appeal regarding child support because the original child support award was temporary, and the trial court had never made an ultimate decision of if and how it would determine child support after his imprisonment. If you want to appeal from a divorce judgment, it must be on a final judgment or at least an issue in the judgment that is considered “final.”

It is important to seek an experienced attorney who understands the realities of Alabama family law. If you need a family lawyer, contact INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 236-3997 for help with your case.

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