Category Archives: Custody

Custody vested in Father when Mother voluntarily surrendered custody to a Grandparent

Custody vested in Father Custody vested in Father.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the modification of a previous custody award and grant of primary physical custody of the child to the biological father, holding that evidence supported the trial court’s findings that a material change of condition affecting the welfare of the child occurred and the change in custody was in the child’s best interest. The Court held that what began as a temporary custodial arrangement when the mother moved to Oklahoma in 2004, leaving the child in the care and custody of his maternal grandmother in Missouri, and arguably could still be construed as such when the parents entered into a 2006 consent order modifying the father’s visitation rights, evolved into a permanent custodial arrangement by the time the father filed his petition for change of custody in 2009, and the mother’s voluntary surrender of physical custody and control of the child to his grandmother resulted in a material change in condition. Additional evidence supporting the finding of a material change in condition included the grandmother’s limitation of some of the father’s visitation, the exclusion of the father from important medical decisions affecting the child, and the failure to notify the father when the mother executed powers of attorney in loco parentis in favor of the grandmother. The Court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the award of primary physical custody to the father was in the best interest of the child, as a prima facie right of custody is vested in the non-custodial parent when the custodial parent voluntarily surrenders custody to a third party; a rebuttable presumption provides that it is in the best interest of the child to award custody to a parent rather than a third party; and the father presented evidence that he is a fit and qualified parent to have primary physical custody and will be able to meet the needs of the child in adjusting to a new home.

If you have questions about how  child custody or when Custody vested in Father  – for more information, contact the Remboldt Law Firm at 404-348-4081 for a free consultation.

You may find the Georgia Child Support Worksheet helpful.  Also, if you are considering an uncontested divorce, you may find the Uncontested Divorce Worksheet helpful in moving forward with an uncontested divorce.

Shotwell v. Filip, A11A1728; A11A1729 (02/13/12)

Fulton County Daily Report, February 24, 2012

Parental Rights Termination and Drugs

Parental Rights Termination and Drugs.Parental Rights Termination and Drugs.  Here’s an example of a case where the parental rights were terminated by the Court due to drug use.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of the mother’s parental rights to her 10-month-old daughter, holding that the trial court did not err in finding that the child was deprived, the mother was the cause of the deprivation and the deprivation was likely to continue, where the mother had a 12-year history of drug addiction and repeatedly used methamphetamine while pregnant; neither of the mother’s two other children were in her custody; the mother had multiple felony drug convictions and was in jail after the child’s birth; the mother failed to financially support the child until four weeks before the termination hearing; the mother had five separate residences since the child’s birth; the mother made no attempt whatsoever to visit the child until she filed her motion for visitation when the child was nine months old; and the mother was willing to reconcile with the father, who was also addicted to methamphetamine and had not completed any type of drug treatment. The Court also held that termination was in the child’s best interest, based on the evidence of the mother’s prior drug problems, her failure to support or develop any bond with the child, her willingness to reconcile with the father, and the paternal relatives’ desire to adopt the child.

Parental Rights Termination and Drugs.  For more information see the Georgia case:  In the Interest of Z.P., A11A2183 (02/24/12)

If you have questions about Parental Rights Termination and Drugs, a divorce settlement agreement, contempt, or if you are considering filing a divorce, please contact the contact the Remboldt Law Firm, LLC at 404-348-4081 for a free phone consultation.

From:  Fulton County Daily Report, March 9, 2012.

Custody Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Custody Subject Matter JurisdictionCustody Subject Matter Jurisdiction.  The Court of Appeals reversed the Georgia trial court’s permanent modification of the initial child custody determination made by a Kansas court and the denial of the mother’s motion to set aside the modification, holding that the Georgia court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Although Georgia satisfied the relevant home state requirements of O.C.G.A. § 19-9-61 (a), Kansas never determined that it no longer had exclusive, continuing jurisdiction and no evidence supported the Georgia court’s finding that the mother no longer resided in Kansas. The Court also held that the trial court did not err in denying the mother’s motion for attorneys’ fees pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-68, as the Georgia court’s improper invocation of subject matter jurisdiction was due to its own error, not the allegedly unjustifiable conduct of the father; mother was not entitled to attorneys’ fees under O.C.G.A. § 19-9-92 either, as that provision applies only to enforcement proceedings.

Custody Subject Matter Jurisdiction.  For more information about this case see:  Delgado v. Combs, A11A1948 (02/29/12).

Fulton County Daily Report, March 9, 2012.

If you have questions about Custody Subject Matter Jurisdiction, a divorce settlement agreement, contempt, or if you considering filing a divorce, please contact the Remboldt Law Firm, LLC at 404-348-4081 for a free phone consultation.

Child Custody Litigation

Child Custody LitigationChild Custody Litigation – Many of my clients come to my office seeking advice about child custody litigation.  The first thing I discuss with my clients is how serious the journey will be – in that it will likely impact their children’s health, happiness, and relationship with both parents.  Additionally, never will all the client’s conduct, words, attitudes and relationships be as closely scrutinized as during a custody litigation.  Unlike other domestic relations litigation, in custody litigation, the conduct of the parents during the pendency of the litigation, many times determine the outcome of the case.  Following is a list of conduct your attorney will discuss with you and likely suggest that you SHOULD NOT engage if you are considering child custody litigation.

  1. Violence.
  2. Use of drugs
  3. Frequent consumption of alcohol.
  4. Improper romantic or sexual relationships.
  5. Mistreatment of a child.
  6. Interference with a child’s relationship with the other parent.
  7. Failure to exercise all possible visitation or contact with the minor children.
  8. Failure to pay child support or other support as required.
  9. Lie or make misrepresentation under oath.

Additionally, you should assume that the other parent will be / or has been documenting your conduct.  It is best, leading up to the litigation, that you should make sure your conduct does not include those conducting on the above list if you are considering child custody litigation.

If you have questions about child custody litigation or are considering your options as it relates to a change of custody of your children, you should seek out a knowledgeable child custody lawyer to help you decide next steps.  A lawyer will discuss your objectives and concerns to see if child custody litigation makes sense for you.

For information about a child custody litigation in Georgia, contact the Remboldt Law Firm for a free consultation at 404-348-4081.

 

GA Court vacated Alaska Court custody determination

cropped-Books.jpgGA Court vacated Alaska Court custody determination.   Here are the facts of the case.  The Court of Appeals partially vacated the order modifying an Alaska court’s custody determination, holding that the trial court erred in continuing custody of the children with the mother’s parents based on its finding that the mother failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that returning custody of the children to her would be in the best interest of the children. Because the case involved a custody dispute between custodial third parties and a noncustodial parent seeking reunification with her children, the appropriate standard of proof was the best interest of the child standard set forth in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1 (b.1), as narrowly construed in Clark v. Wade, 273 Ga. 587 (2001), such that the mother’s parents, not the mother, had the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the children would suffer either physical harm or significant, long-term emotional harm if they were returned to the mother’s custody. However, the Court affirmed the remaining portions of the order, holding that the trial court was authorized to modify the Alaska court determination pursuant to Part 2 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, O.C.G.A. § 19-9-40 et. seq., since the plain language of O.C.G.A. § § 19-9-85 and 19-9-86 do not require that a custody determination of another state be registered before it can be modified in accordance with Part 2. Finally, the trial court did not erroneously take jurisdiction over and try a pending Alaska case, where the Georgia court properly assumed jurisdiction pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-63 to try proceedings filed in the Georgia court seeking to modify the Alaska court custody determination, and the issues raised by the mother’s petition filed in the Alaska court seeking custody of the children were tried in the Georgia court by express or implied agreement of the parties and the court.

For more information about the facts of this case and GA Courts vacated Alaska Courts Custody Determination see:  Lopez v. Olson, A11A1794 (03/02/12)

Fulton County Daily Report, March 16, 2012

If you have questions about a divorce settlement agreement, contempt, or if you considering filing a divorce, please contact the Remboldt Law Firm, LLC at 404-348-4081 for a free phone consultation.

Contempt attorney fees and expenses for family therapist.

Divorce TopicsContempt Attorney Fees and Expenses for Family Therapist: In this contempt action following entry of Dr. Scott Bowerman and Melissa Bowerman’s divorce and custody decree and subsequent related orders, the Court of Appeals reversed the grant of $5.8K in attorneys’ fees and expenses to Dr. Bowerman and the award of $3.4K in reimbursement for Dr. Bowerman’s payments to Susan Boyan, a licensed marriage and family therapist, holding that the trial court grievously erred in making such an award, since it ordered that Dr. Bowerman ‘ “[m]ay deduct the total amount, $9,200.00 from the payment of periodic alimony [$10,000 per month] at the rate of $1,500.00 per month,” ’ since, ‘ “after a decree for permanent alimony has become absolute, there is no authority given under the law by which a trial court is empowered to abrogate or modify the obligation imposed by the decree, unless such a right has been reserved by consent of the parties in the final decree itself, or an action is brought as provided under” ’ OCGA § § 19-6-18 through 19-6-25.

However, the Court rejected Melissa Bowerman’s contention that the trial court erred in finding her in contempt ‘ “by failing to articulate which specific provision of any prior order” ’ she had violated, since the trial court’s various orders incorporated the terms of the parties’ agreements, which included very specific, all-encompassing requirements, including express language of commands directed at both parties. The Court also held that the lack of a transcript prevented the trial court from reviewing Melissa Bowerman’s second and sixth enumerations of error and prevented Melissa Bowerman from showing harm from any alleged error in the trial court’s modification of summer visitation. Next, the record belied Melissa Bowerman’s contention that the trial court made any modification to the order granting equal rights to the parties, unless they are unable to agree regarding healthcare. Finally, the trial court’s order requiring Dr. Bowerman and his daughter to enter into counseling did not alter legal custody, and the Court declined to consider the daughter’s affidavit, since she did not testify at the contempt hearing, denying her father the right to cross-examine her.

For more information about the facts of this case, see:  Bowerman v. Bowerman, A11A1895 (03/01/12)

Fulton County Daily Report, March 16, 2012

If you have questions about a divorce settlement agreement, contempt, or if you considering filing a divorce, please contact the Remboldt Law Firm, LLC at 404-348-4081 for a free phone consultation.

Custody to the Grandparents.

ContemptCustody to the Grandparents.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment awarding custody of Kyung Trotter and Michael Ayers Jr.’s minor child to the child’s paternal grandparents, holding that the trial court did not apply the wrong legal standard for determining when a third party can be granted custody of a minor child over the biological parents. In so holding, the Court noted that the custody dispute arose in 2009, when the child was being raised by the paternal grandparents, having been abandoned by the father, thus the standard is predicated on O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1 (b.1), which governs custody disputes between a biological parent and a limited number of third parties who are related to the child, including grandparents. The trial court’s final custody order reflected that the trial court properly applied the correct legal standard in ruling that the presumption in favor of granting custody to the mother was rebutted by clear and convincing evidence and that the child’s best interests would be better served by awarding custody to the paternal grandparents. The Court also held that, absent a transcript, the trial court’s rulings regarding the sufficiency of the evidence and several additional alleged errors were presumably correct. Next, the trial court did not err in granting the guardian ad litem’s request for a custody evaluation, as Superior Court Rule 24.9 (8) (a) authorizes the same. Finally, the mother failed to carry her burden of showing harm from the court-appointed custody evaluator’s failure to timely provide her with a written report of the evaluation; the trial court did not err in permitting the grandparents to intervene in response to the mother’s petition seeking a change in custody; the record belied the mother’s contention that the trial court did not rule on her motion to dismiss the grandparents’ motion to intervene; and the mother’s pro se brief violated Court of Appeals Rule 25 (a) (1), because many pages of the procedural and factual background section contained no ‘ “citation of such parts of the record or transcript essential to a consideration of the errors complained of.”

Custody to the Grandparents.  For more information about the facts of this case, see Trotter v. Ayers, A12A0702 (03/05/12).

Fulton County Daily Report, March 16, 2012

If you have questions about CUSTODY TO THE GRANDPARENTS, divorce settlement agreement, contempt, or if you considering filing a divorce, please contact the Remboldt Law Firm, LLC at 404-348-4081 for a free phone consultation.

GA Supreme Court eliminated husband’s visitation rights and increased his child support obligations.

The Supreme Court reversed the grant of the husband’s motion to set aside the order awarding legal and physical custody of the children to the wife, eliminating the husband’s visitation rights, holding the husband in contempt for failure to pay child support, and increasing the husband’s child support obligations. The Court held that it retained jurisdiction to review the set aside order, notwithstanding the general rule requiring parties to utilize the interlocutory appeal procedures of O.C.G.A. § 5-6-34 (b), since the instant case presented a child custody matter subject to direct appeal pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 5-6-34 (a) (11). Further, the trial court erred in granting the husband’s motion to set aside, since trial counsel’s failure to include the husband’s correct address on her motion to withdraw was an insufficient ground to set aside the judgment under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-60 (d) (2).

Edge v. Edge, S11A1532 (02/27/12)

Fulton County Daily Report, March 2, 2012

GA Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of the mother’s parental rights, holding it was in the children’s best interest.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of the mother’s parental rights, holding that clear and convincing evidence supported it, given the lack of stable and sanitary housing, the mother’s inability to provide for the children and meet their medical, educational and emotional needs, and the mother’s failure to adequately address her mental health issues. Further, clear and convincing evidence supported the finding that the children’s continued deprivation was likely to cause them serious harm, and termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children, where the psychologist working with the family recommended that the mother not regain custody of the children, all of whom suffered significant mental health issues due to parental neglect.

In the Interest of A.E., A11A2200 (02/17/12)

Fulton County Daily Report, March 2, 2012

 

GA Court of Appeals found trial court lacked jurisdiction over the father’s petition for change of child custody.

The Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Sherry N. Sumner’s motion to dismiss Marcus C. Batchelor’s petition for change of child custody based on lack of jurisdiction, holding that the trial court erred in finding that venue was proper in Effingham county, since the original divorce order awarded custody of the children to Sumner, Sumner challenged the trial court’s jurisdiction in her responsive pleading, and she presented ample evidence that her residence was in Chatham county.

Sumner v. Batchelor, A11A1522, (02/03/12)

Fulton County Daily Report, February 17, 2012