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In re S. R. R.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 2, 2015

In the Interest of S. R. R

Termination of parental rights. Whitfield Juvenile Court. Before Judge Blaylock.

Judgment reversed.

Avrett, Ponder & Withrock, W. Bartlett Barnwell, for appellant.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Shalen S. Nelson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Bruce A. Kling, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

OPINION

Page 563

Miller, Judge.

Following a hearing, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights with respect to her son, S. R. R. We granted the mother's application for discretionary review, and she appeals the juvenile court's order.[1] The mother contends that the evidence was insufficient to support the termination of her parental rights. After a thorough review, this Court finds that the evidence does not clearly and convincingly show that the mother is presently unfit or that the cause of S. R. R.'s deprivation is likely to continue and cause serious 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

Page 564

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 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 unfitness, as opposed to past unfitness, is required to terminate a mother's rights to her natural child. See In the Interest of T. F., 250 Ga.App. 96, 98 (1) (550 S.E.2d 473) (2001).

So viewed, the evidence shows that the mother suffers from several disabling health problems, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia and lupus. The mother is under continuous medical care for her health issues, and she takes several prescription medications to control her symptoms.[2] When S. R. R. was born on [330 Ga.App. 818] October 1, 2010, he was hospitalized for two weeks for an enlarged heart. Within weeks of his birth, the mother placed S. R. R. in the care of a friend.[3] S. R. R. lived in the friend's home until June 21, 2012 when he was removed by the Division of Family and Children ...


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