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Untimely Objection to Grandparent Visitation Order

A mother’s pro se letters to the trial court did not preserve her claim of error, as the letters were sent after the trial court entered a final order pursuant to the parties’ negotiated agreement that gave the parents joint legal custody and father primary physical custody, with visitation for the mother and the paternal grandparents.

The paternal grandparents and father argue that mother did not preserve her assignment of error. We agree.

The circuit court entered the final order on Aug. 22, 2014. Mother subsequently filed two pro se letters with the circuit court. The circuit court considered these letters as a motion to reconsider. Mother did not ask the circuit court to enter an order to stay, vacate or suspend the Aug. 22, 2014 order. On Sept. 10, 2014, within 21 days of the entry of the final order, the circuit court held a hearing on mother’s motions. From the bench, the circuit court stated it denied mother’s motion to reconsider.

A trial court speaks through its written orders. The circuit court did not enter an order memorializing its ruling on mother’s motion to reconsider until Sept. 29, 2014, which was more than 21 days after the entry of the Aug. 22, 2014 order. Mother’s objections, filed on Sept. 23, 2014, also were filed more than 21 days after entry of the Aug. 22, 2014 order.

Under Rule 1:1, the circuit court lost jurisdiction over the matter after Sept. 12, 2014, which was the 21st day after the entry of the final order. This court will not review the Sept. 29, 2014, order and the circuit court ruling on the motion to reconsider. Mother’s objections were not timely filed and will not be considered.

The paternal grandparents’ request for attorney’s fees is granted, and we remand for the circuit court to set a reasonable award of attorney’s fees and costs.

Judgment summarily affirmed.

Bracaloni v. Edge (Per Curiam) No. 1722-14-2, June 2, 2015; Spotsylvania County Cir.Ct. (Ellis) Richard Camaur for appellant; William C. Herbert III for appellee; Patricia Joshi, Thomas Woehrle, GALs; Thomas Woehrle for grandparents. VLW 015-7-160(UP), 5 pp.

VLW 015-7-160

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