The Meriwether & Tharp Divorce Attorney Blog

Return to the Blog Home Page

Deprivation Action

Parental Rights, Deprivation – Georgia Case Law Update

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

On March 13, 2009, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court’s termination of a father’s parental rights in In the Interest of D.F. (A08A2371). The father challenged the sufficiency of the evidence of his parental misconduct or inability, or that termination of parental rights would be in the children’s best interests. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the father, holding that “[t]he evidence authorized the juvenile court to find that although the father has not engaged in any abuse or intentional misconduct whatsoever toward his children, and although he has made a sincere and food faith effort to obtain reunification with the children by meeting his parental responsibilities, his mental infirmities simply render him incapable of parenting the children without the full-time assistance that is unavailable to him.” The Court, thus, found that terminating the father’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children.

Deprivation – Georgia Case Law Update

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

On February 23, 2009, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the Dekalb county juvenile court’s deprivation ruling in In the Interest of N.H. (A08A1759). During the course of DFCS’ investigation of a teenage mother and her child which raised significant concerns, the DFCS case worker secured the services of a parenting support company to instruct the mother on what to feed infants and,generally, how to care for infants. During the parenting specialist’s visit to the home, she noted that the mother fed the infant inappropriate food despite instruction that it was inappropriate.As a result of the investigation, the juvenile court found that the mother “had intellectual limitations evidenced by her continued improper feeding of the child.” Despite the mother’s objection to the deprivation finding because the parenting specialist assigned by DFCS only visited the home once, the Court of Appeals found the evidence sufficient to support a finding of deprivation.

Deprivation – Georgia Case Law Update

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

On February 9, 2009, the Georgia Court of Appeals vacated the juvenile court’s deprivation ruling in In the Interest of A.R. (A08A2411). The children were found to be deprived because their mother had surrendered her parental rights and her father was incarcerated. Notwithstanding the fact that the father was incarcerated and, thus, his location within the state was known, he was not personally served with the deprivation petition. Due to this non-amendable defect, the Order was vacated. As evidence of the importance of personal service, during the course of the appeal,the state even conceded that the order needed to be vacated due to lack of service.

Georgia Deprivation Finding Upheld – Georgia Case Law Update

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

On November 17, 2008, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a Juvenile Court’s finding of deprivation under Georgia  law and the removal of the child from her parents’ custody. The trial court specifically held that the child was deprived because the child was sexually abused by her Father and because the Mother failed to protect the child from this abuse.

In In the Interest of B.H. (A08A1102), the Georgia Court of Appeals stressed that, in reviewing a judgment determining that child is deprived, “we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the juvenile court’s judgment to determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found by clear and convincing evidence that the child was deprived.” Citing In the Interest of S.S.,232 Ga. App. 287, 289 (1998). Using this standard, the Court of Appeals affirmed the finding of deprivation as to the Father, referring to testimony of another child into the house as to the abuse perpetrated by the Father and holding that a rational trier of fact could have found deprivation by clear and convincing evidence. The Court of Appeals applied the same standard and reasoning to the deprivation finding against the Mother, referring to specific evidence that the Mother had “manipulated [the child] to ensure the return of the father to the home without regard to whether he had sexually abused the child.”

Deprivation (Procedural Issues) – Georgia Case Law Update

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

In the Georgia Court of Appeals finding of deprivation in In the Interest of B.H. (A08A1102) on November 17, 2008, the Court addressed several procedural issues in juvenile court proceedings. First, The Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court’s excluding of testimony by the child’s former court-appointed special advocate (CASA). The parents wanted the CASA to testify to dispute the child’s previous allegations. Georgia law defines the CASA role as to advocate for the best interests of the child and protects the CASA/child relationship by keeping information acquired by the CASA confidential. Though confidential information could be disclosed with a court order, the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that requiring this CASA to testify would be“inconsistent with the purpose of the CASA program” especially because the parents had multiple other witnesses to impeach the child.

Next, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling limiting the scope of discovery requested by the parents, since the parents had already obtained the requested information in other formats.

In addition, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s requirement that the Father view the child’s testimony from a television monitor in another room. Though there is a constitutional right to confront one’s witnesses, the Court of Appeals addressed the importance of protecting a child witness from trauma and held that, since the Father could view the testimony as it occurred and the court provided a person to run notes from the Father to his attorney, the Father’s constitutional rights were not violated.

Deprivation – Georgia Case Law Update

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

On December 1, 2008, in In the Interest of A.R., the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the deprivation ruling of the juvenile court over the Father’s challenge of the sufficiency of evidence andadmission of evidence. The Father contended that the juvenile court erred in finding the children deprived, since there was no evidence that he was the person who hurt the children. The Court ofAppeals disagreed, referring to evidence that the children were injured and became developmentally delayed while in the Father’s care, and the fact that the Father’s incarceration rendered himunable to comply with the reunification plan.

The Father further challenged the admissibility of certain testimony and documentary evidence, but failed to provide support for his appeal of these issues or to show how the admissibility wasreversible. In its holdings, the Court of Appeals implicitly stressed the importance of being specific in how and why the lower court erred, which is a guideline all parties should follow inappeals.

Deprivation – Georgia Case Law Update

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

On February 9, 2009, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the Gwinnett county juvenile court’s finding that a child was deprived under O.C.G.A. §15-11-2(8)(A), reaffirming the standard that a juvenile court’s ruling will stand if it was supported by clear and convincing evidence. In In the Interest of J.S. (A08A1993), a mother appealed the deprivation ruling, arguing that there was insufficient evidence. The Court of Appeals rejected the mother’s claim, since the evidence suggested that the mother had filed numerous unsubstantiated claims of sexual abuse against the father and a young boy at a homeless shelter where the mother and child were living. The Court held that evidence of “repeated unfounded investigations of sexual abuse” has been held to be sufficient evidence of deprivation, and that the evidence in this case authorized the juvenile court to find by clear and convincing evidence that the child was deprived.

Deprivation – Georgia Case Law Update

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

On February 9, 2009, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the Gwinnett county juvenile court’s finding that a child was deprived under O.C.G.A. §15-11-2(8)(A), reaffirming the standard that a juvenile court’s ruling will stand if it was supported by clear and convincing evidence. In In the Interest of J.S. (A08A1993), a mother appealed the deprivation ruling, arguing that there was insufficient evidence. The Court of Appeals rejected the mother’s claim, since the evidence suggested that the mother had filed numerous unsubstantiated claims of sexual abuse against the father and a young boy at a homeless shelter where the mother and child were living. The Court held that evidence of “repeated unfounded investigations of sexual abuse” has been held to be sufficient evidence of deprivation, and that the evidence in this case authorized the juvenile court to find by clear and convincing evidence that the child was deprived.