The Court of Appeals affirmed the order legitimating William Hendrix as the father of J. M., holding that the trial court did not clearly err in concluding that Hendrix did not abandon his opportunity interest in developing a relationship with his biological son. Hendrix was involved and interested in his child during the pregnancy, initiated a child support proceeding and began paying child support upon the mother’s filing of an abandonment petition, and initiated the legitimation proceeding as soon as he was financially able upon receipt of DNA test results.
Order granting father’s petition to legitimate his biological son, affirmed, as trial court properly determined that father did not abandon his opportunity interest in forming relationship with his child; father developed and maintained relationship with his child from his birth on December 30, 2007, until mother blocked his access to child in February 2010, and father supported child financially from his birth and even after he was no longer allowed contact with him; mother’s contention that father waived his opportunity interest in child by offering mother no emotional or financial support during her pregnancy, rejected, since father’s lack of involvement prior to child’s birth ‘ “is as significant as such a disregard after the child is born,” ‘ but no authority limits trial court’s inquiry into whether father has abandoned his opportunity interest to period before child’s birth, especially where, as here, father evidenced clear intent to be involved in his child’s life following his birth; trial court did not err in excluding character evidence unrelated to issue of custody in determining what arrangement was in child’s best interest; trial court did not abuse its discretion in using mother’s former income of $32K per year in calculating child support, since she voluntarily terminated her employment; any issue surrounding supersedeas imposed when mother filed motion for new trial was moot; father’s motion for frivolous appeal penalties, denied.
Caldwell v. Meadows, A11A1031 (10/14/11)
Fulton County Daily Report, November 4, 2011
Judgment of father’s petition for legitimation and visitation, partially vacated; absent transcript, record presumably supported trial court’s findings that custody and visitation decision was in child’s best interest, and evidence presumably supported trial court’s findings regarding child support; grant of $2.5K in attorneys’ fees to mother, vacated, and case remanded, as trial court’s order failed to specify any basis for award.
Charlot v. Goldwire, A11A0684 (07/01/11)
Fulton County Daily Report, July 22, 2011