FROM THE RANDOLPH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO.DR-2009-141]
HONORABLE PHILIP SMITH, JUDGE
Jarboe, for appellant.
Womack, Phelps & McNeill, P.A., by: Tom D. Womack and
Ryan M. Wilson, for appellee.
J. Gladwin, Chief Judge
appeal arises out of a divorce case involving Denee Ellis and
Mike Ellis. Both parties appeal from the circuit court's
rulings. However, we must dismiss the appeal because our
court lacks jurisdiction.
and Mike Ellis married on November 30, 1996, and had two
children during their marriage. In July 2009, Mike filed for
divorce from Denee. In his complaint, Mike conceded that
Denee was the appropriate party to be the custodial parent
for their two minor children. Denee answered Mike's
complaint. Later, Mike filed an amended complaint for divorce
requesting an unequal division of the marital property. Denee
answered the amended complaint and disputed Mike's
entitlement to an unequal division of the marital property.
circuit court held a trial on the parties' divorce over
the course of seven days in 2011-May 10-11, June 14-15, June
24, June 28, and July 19. The trial focused primarily on the
disposition of the parties' property. Ultimately, the
circuit court adjudicated the issues in this case in a
piecemeal fashion and issued several orders.
the circuit court granted the parties' divorce in an
order entered June 20, 2011. The decree of divorce
specifically provided that it did not adjudicate custody,
visitation, support, alimony, or the division of property.
The court retained jurisdiction to dispose of these matters.
on August 19, 2011, the circuit court entered an order
entitled "Visitation Order, " setting out
Mike's visitation schedule with the two minor children.
This order provided only for Mike's visitation with the
minor children and did not award custody of the children to
either party. Again, the court retained jurisdiction to
adjudicate the issues that remained unresolved.
March 26, 2012, the circuit court entered an order to show
cause. This order was entered in response to Mike's
February 23, 2012 motion for contempt against Denee wherein
he accused Denee of lying under oath.
February 11, 2015, three and one half years after the trial,
the circuit court entered an order that set Mike's
child-support obligation and purported to equally divide the
parties' property. Both parties appealed from this order.
The circuit court entered another order on April 27, 2015.
This order attempted to fully and finally resolve all pending
issues before the court-including several posttrial motions.
The order also contained a Rule 54(b) certificate. Both
parties subsequently appealed the February 11 and April 27
well settled that, in order to be appealable, an order must
be final. Liberty Life Ins. Co. v. McQueen, 364 Ark.
367, 219 S.W.3d 172 (2005). An order is final if it dismisses
the parties from the court, discharges them from the action,
or concludes their rights to the subject matter in
controversy. Id. The question of whether an order is
final and subject to appeal is a jurisdictional question
which this court will raise sua sponte. Moses v.
Hanna's Candle Co., 353 Ark. 101, 110 S.W.3d 725
(2003). Our review revealed that there are two issues still
pending before the circuit court-custody of the minor
children and Mike's motion for contempt.
we address the issue of custody. Absent from this case is any
order adjudicating custody of the parties' two minor
children. In his statement of the case, Mike refers to the
circuit court's August 19, 2011 visitation order as a
visitation and custody order, and both parties seemed to
operate under the assumption that this order adjudicates