The mother of A. D. B., a three-year-old child, initiated a petition in the superior court to terminate the parental rights of the child's legal father. The mother had custody of the child pursuant to a divorce decree between the parties. After a hearing, the superior court granted the father's motion for a directed verdict and denied the petition. The mother appeals from the court's order.
Pursuant to OCGA 15-11-5
(a) (2) (C), the juvenile court has "exclusive original jurisdiction over juvenile matters and shall be the sole court for initiating action: . . . [f]or the termination of the legal parent-child relationship . . . other than that in connection with adoption proceedings under Chapter 8 of Title 19, in which the superior courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction to terminate the legal parent-child relationship. . . ." Since the present termination petition was not in connection with adoption proceedings, the superior court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider the petition. Alexander v. Guthrie, 216 Ga. App. 460
, 462 (454 SE2d 805
) (1995); Cothran v. Cothran, 237 Ga. 487
, 488 (228 SE2d 872
Although the parties consented at the hearing to the jurisdiction of the superior court, the consent of the parties cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction on a court. Gray v. Gray, 229 Ga. 460
, 461 (192 SE2d 334
) (1972). "When a court has before it a matter where it has no jurisdiction of the subject matter, no legal judgment can be rendered except one of dismissal; and when this court discovers from the record on appeal that a judgment has been rendered by a court having no jurisdiction of the subject matter, it will of its own motion reverse the judgment." Id. at 461. "[W]hen a trial court enters a judgment where it does not have jurisdiction, such judgment is a mere nullity; but an appeal from such an illegal judgment will not be dismissed but instead, the void judgment will be reversed." Darden v. Ravan, 232 Ga. 756
, 758 (208 SE2d 846
) (1974); Pope v. Jones, 79 Ga. 487
, 488 (4 SE 860
) (1888). Because the superior court was only authorized to dismiss the petition, its order addressing the merits of the petition is reversed.
Appellee's motion for imposition of a penalty under Court of Appeals Rule 15 (b) is denied.
Starling & Starling, Donald A. Starling, for appellee.