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Beloate v. Peden

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 9, 2014

BELOATE
v.
PEDEN

Grandparent visitation. Cobb Superior Court. Before Judge Stedman, pro hac vice.

Moss & Rothenberg, Robert A. Moss, for appellant.

Nicholas G. Dumich , Rogen J. Rozen, for appellee.

McFADDEN, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Ray, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 488

McFadden, Judge.

The maternal grandmother of minor child A. B. filed a petition seeking visitation rights with the child. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the petition and awarded grandparent visitation. The father of A. B. appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the [328 Ga.App. 65] evidence supporting the grandparent visitation order and claiming that the trial court erred in requiring him to bear a portion of the cost of the court-appointed guardian ad litem. Because there is sufficient evidence from which a rational trier of fact could have found that the grandparent visitation was authorized, we affirm the trial court's visitation ruling. With regard to the guardian ad litem fees, there were two rulings, one of which the father acquiesced in; however, he properly challenged the second request for such fees, and because the petitioning grandparent alone was required to bear the expense of the court-appointed guardian ad litem, we reverse that portion of the trial court's ruling.

1. Sufficiency of the evidence.

On appeal from an order granting grandparent visitation, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment to determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found by clear and convincing evidence that the mandated visitation was authorized. We do not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility, but defer to the trial court's factfinding and affirm unless the evidence fails to satisfy the appellate standard of review.

Luke v. Luke, 280 Ga.App. 607, 609-610 (1) (634 S.E.2d 439) (2006) (citations omitted).

So viewed, the evidence shows that A. B. was born on December 11, 2001. By the time A. B. was approximately three years old, the unwed parents had ended their relationship, the mother was in a drug rehabilitation program, and the father and A. B. had moved into the paternal grandparents' house. The mother later began a relationship with another man, and on May 5, 2008, gave birth to D. C., the half-brother of A. B. In the meantime, the father of A. B. had initiated a custody action, which resulted in a January 2009 consent order, pursuant to which the mother and father had joint legal custody of A. B., the father had sole physical custody, and the mother had visitation rights. According to the maternal grandmother, the father and his mother stopped allowing visitations, did not respond to telephone calls or letters, and thwarted various attempts to contact the child. On December 15, 2010, A. B.'s mother died of an accidental prescription drug overdose.

After the mother's death, the maternal grandmother filed the underlying petition for visitation, claiming that she had not been allowed to visit with A. B. since the father had gained physical custody. It was stipulated at the hearing on the petition that A. B. had [328 Ga.App. 66] recently begun seeing a counselor to address emotional issues regarding the loss of her mother, that the father wanted the maternal grandmother to be involved with the counseling, and that the maternal grandmother had agreed to do so. At the conclusion of the hearing, the guardian ad litem, who had been appointed to represent the child's interests and to investigate the matter, confirmed that the father and his family had blocked telephone calls and had limited the maternal grandmother's contact with the child. The guardian ad litem recommended that the court award visitation rights to the maternal grandmother, opining that the paternal grandmother does not like the maternal grandmother's family, so " there won't be one minute of visitation for them that you don't order."

Page 489

In granting visitation rights to the maternal grandmother, the trial court found, among ...


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