GA 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
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