Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Goodlett v. Brittain

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

February 23, 2018

MICHAEL THOMAS GOODLETT APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE
v.
BILL BRITTAIN; AND MARSHA BRITTAIN APPELLEES/CROSS-APPELLANTS AND MICHAEL THOMAS GOODLETT APPELLANT
v.
MARSHA BRITTAIN; AND BILL BRITTAIN APPELLEES

         APPEAL AND CROSS-APPEAL FROM KNOX FAMILY COURT HONORABLE STEPHEN JONES, JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-CI-00106

         APPEAL FROM KNOX FAMILY COURT HONORABLE STEPHEN JONES, JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-CI-00106

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT/CROSSAPPELLEE, MICHAEL THOMAS GOODLETT: Rhonda Duerr Girdner Barbourville, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEES/CROSSAPPELLANTS, BILL AND MARSHA BRITTAIN: David M. Mills Barbourville, Kentucky

          BEFORE: JONES, J. LAMBERT, AND MAZE, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          MAZE, JUDGE.

         Michael Goodlett appeals from an April 20, 2016, order of the Knox Family Court granting grandparent visitation to Bill and Marsha Brittain (collectively, "the Brittains"). The Brittains also appeal from that order, alleging that the visitation awarded was inadequate. Thereafter, Goodlett filed a notice of appeal from a February 22, 2017, order directing all parties to comply with the original visitation order. As an initial matter, we conclude that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction even though the Brittains withdrew their petition prior to its service on Goodlett. However, we agree with Goodlett that the trial court's factual findings were insufficient to justify an award of grandparent visitation. Hence, we reverse and remand for entry of additional findings. Consequently, the issues raised in the Brittains' cross-appeal and Goodlett's subsequent appeal are now moot. Hence, we dismiss those appeals.

         Facts and Procedural History

         Goodlett is the father of two children, ZDG (born November 2009), and ZMG (born March 2011). The children's mother, Alesha, separated from Goodlett in 2014. She and the children resided with her parents, Bill and Marsha Brittain, beginning in March 2014. During this time, the Brittains helped Alesha care for the children while she underwent treatment for cancer. Goodlett had regular visitation with the children during this period.

         In December 2014, Alesha filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage in the Bell Circuit Court. She also filed a motion for temporary custody of the children, which the circuit court granted. However, Alesha died on February 2, 2015, and shortly thereafter, Goodlett took custody of the children. The Brittains attempted to intervene in the dissolution action, and also brought a motion to establish grandparent visitation. But on March 17, 2015, the Bell Circuit Court denied the motions and dismissed the case, concluding that the dissolution action was subject to automatic abatement upon Alesha's death.

         On March 25, 2015, the Brittains filed the current action in the Knox Family Court, seeking grandparent visitation pursuant to KRS[1] 405.021. Goodlett and the Brittains initially attempted to come to an agreement regarding visitation, but were unable to do so. In September 2015, the trial court entered an agreed order for temporary grandparent visitation. On Goodlett's motion, the trial court scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the petition for grandparent visitation, which the trial court held on March 16, 2016.

         At the conclusion of that hearing, the trial court granted visitation to the Brittains. The trial court gave the Brittains visitation with the children on alternate Saturday afternoons, with overnight visitation once a month beginning after a 120-day period. The court's oral findings were memorialized by a written order entered on April 20, 2016.

         Goodlett and the Brittains each filed a motion to alter, amend or vacate the order. Goodlett argued that the written order failed to reflect the trial court's oral ruling, and the Brittains argued that their visitation was inadequate. The trial court denied both motions on April 27, 2016. This appeal and cross-appeal followed. Subsequently, Goodlett filed an appeal from February 22, 2017, order re-setting the Brittains' visitation to the original terms. These appeals are now submitted to this Court to be heard together. Additional facts relevant to these appeals will be set out below.

         Jurisdictional issue

         On June 12, 2017, this Court directed the parties to file supplemental briefs to address whether the trial court properly exercised subject-matter jurisdiction in this case. As we noted in that order, the Brittains filed a motion to withdraw their petition on April 10, 2015, before the petition was served on Goodlett. On April 27, the trial court granted their motion to withdraw the petition and dismissed the case. However, on June 26, 2015, the Brittains filed a motion under the same case number, seeking to re-open and re-docket their prior petition. The trial court granted the motion to re-open during a motion hearing on July 10, 2015. Goodlett filed his response to the petition and the matter then proceeded to the visitation order at issue in these appeals.

          In our prior order, we questioned whether the trial court properly exercised jurisdiction over the re-opened petition. While neither of the parties raise this issue, it is well-established that a judgment entered by a court without subject-matter jurisdiction is void. Hisle v. Lexington-Fayette Urban Cty. Gov't, 258 S.W.3d 422, 430 (Ky. App. 2008). Therefore, the issue may be raised at any time, including on the Court's own motion. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.