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In re T. M.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 17, 2014

In the Interest of T. M

Termination of parental rights. Chatham Juvenile Court. Before Judge Stone.

Judgment reversed.

Laurie M. Thomas, for appellant.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Shalen S. Nelson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Calandra A. Harps, Assistant Attorney General, Leo Beckmann, Jr., for appellee.

MILLER, Judge. Doyle, P. J., and Dillard, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 102

Miller, Judge.

Following a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights with respect to her daughter, T. M.[1] We granted the mother's application for discretionary review, and she appeals the juvenile court's order. On appeal, the mother contends that the evidence was insufficient to support the termination of her parental rights; the trial court denied her right to counsel at all stages of the proceedings; and the trial court erred in denying her motion for new [329 Ga.App. 720] trial. After a thorough review, this Court finds that the clear and convincing evidence does not show that the mother is presently unfit and that T. M.'s deprivation was likely to continue and cause substantial harm. Accordingly, we reverse the juvenile court's decision.

In considering the mother's appeal, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the juvenile court's disposition and determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found by clear and convincing evidence that the mother's right to custody should have been terminated.

(Citation omitted.) In the Interest of A. B., 311 Ga.App. 629 (716 S.E.2d 755) (2011). Nevertheless, in conducting our review, we must proceed

with the knowledge that there is no judicial determination which has more drastic significance than that of permanently severing a natural parent-child relationship. It must be scrutinized deliberately and exercised most cautiously. The right to raise one's children is a fiercely guarded right in our society and law, and a right that should be infringed upon only under the most compelling circumstances.

(Citations and punctuation omitted.) In the Interest of C. J. V., 323 Ga.App. 283 (746 S.E.2d 783) (2013). Moreover, clear and convincing evidence of present or current parental

Page 103

unfitness, as opposed to past unfitness, is required to terminate a mother's rights to her natural child. In the Interest of T. F., 250 Ga.App. ...


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