In the Interest of B. H.-W., a child
Custody. DeKalb Juvenile Court. Before Judge El-Amin.
Karimah Boston, for appellant.
Fenwick Thompson & Associates, Melanie D. Fenwick Thompson, for appellee.
ELLINGTON, Presiding Judge. Dillard and McFadden, JJ., concur.
Ellington, Presiding Judge.
D. W., the biological father of B. H.-W., filed in the Juvenile Court of DeKalb County a petition to legitimate the child, then ten months old, and a motion for placement. After a hearing, the juvenile court granted the petition for legitimation and ordered that B. H.-W. be [332 Ga.App. 270] placed with the father. In the same proceedings, the juvenile court dismissed a petition for permanent guardianship previously filed bye the Georgia Department of Human Resources by and through the DeKalb County Department of Family and Children Services (" the Department" ). B. H.-A., the child's mother, appeals, contending that the juvenile court erred in failing to include necessary jurisdictional facts in its orders, in excluding certain testimony regarding the father's pursuit of his opportunity interest and his fitness to parent, in finding that the father had not abandoned his opportunity interest in B. H.-W., in failing to determine whether the father was a fit parent before granting his petition to legitimate,
and in failing to apply the best interest standard when it dismissed the guardianship petition and awarded custody to the father. For the reasons explained below, we affirm.
1. The mother contends the trial court erred in failing to include necessary jurisdictional facts in its judgment.
As a general rule, a juvenile court is a court of special and limited jurisdiction, and [a juvenile court's] judgment[ ] must show on [its] face such facts as are necessary to give [the court] jurisdiction of the person and subject matter. If the order of a juvenile court fails to recite the jurisdictional facts, the judgment is void.
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) In the Interest of S. K. L., 199 Ga.App. 731, 734-735 (2) (c) (405 S.E.2d 903) (1991).
In this case, the juvenile court's final custody order referenced and incorporated the legitimation order entered days earlier. The custody order reflected on its face that all parties were served with a copy of the pleadings and were present, along with their counsel, for the August 11, 2014 hearing. The mother did not contest the juvenile court's personal jurisdiction, a matter which can be waived. See In the Interest of S. K. L., 199 Ga.App. at 734 (2) (b). The custody order also reflected on its face that the proceedings concerned a child then in the Department's custody and that the orders disposed of the father's petition for legitimation and motion for placement as well as the [332 Ga.App. 271] Department's pending petition that permanent guardianship be awarded to B. H.-W.'s current foster parent. Accordingly, the custody order showed on its face such facts as were necessary to give the juvenile court jurisdiction of the person and subject matter. See id. at 734-735 (2) (c); OCGA § § 15-11-2 (22) (" 'Dependent child' means a child who ... [i]s without his or her parent, guardian, or legal custodian." ); 15-11-10 (1) (C) (Except as otherwise provided, " the juvenile court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over juvenile matters and shall be the sole court for initiating action ... [c]oncerning any child who ... [i]s alleged to be a dependent child[.]" ); 15-11-11 (1) (" The juvenile court shall have concurrent jurisdiction to hear ... [a]ny legitimation petition filed pursuant to Code Section 19-7-22 concerning a child alleged to be dependent[.]" ).
2. The mother contends the trial court erred in excluding certain testimony regarding the father's pursuit of his opportunity interest and his fitness to parent. " Evidentiary rulings are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard[.]" (Citation omitted.) Reev ...