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In re L. R. M.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 9, 2015

In the Interest of L. R. M., a child

Grandparent visitation. Toombs Juvenile Court. Before Judge McDonald.

Tracy A. Brown, for appellant.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Shalen S. Nelson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Calandra A. Harps, Jennifer T. McComas, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.

MILLER, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Branch, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 255

Miller, Judge.

After the juvenile court found L. R. M. deprived, the paternal grandmother filed a motion to intervene seeking custody of and visitation with the child. The juvenile court denied the grandmother's motion to intervene, and she appeals, contending that the juvenile court erred in denying her motion because she had an absolute right to intervene under OCGA § 19-7-3 (b) (1), the Grandparent Visitation Statute. The grandmother also contends that the trial court erred in denying her motion on the merits because it applied the wrong legal standard and failed to consider the best interests of the child. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

" On appeal, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the juvenile court's order." (Citation omitted.) In the Interest of S. K., 248 Ga.App. 122 (545 S.E.2d 674) (2001).

So viewed, the evidence shows that L. R. M. was born in June 2012 and lived with his mother and father[1] at the paternal grandmother's house. In May 2013, after the father was incarcerated for possession of methamphetamine and theft, L. R. M. continued to live with his mother at the grandmother's house. During this time, the grandmother cared for the child and provided financial assistance to pay for the child's daycare, diapers, and food.

[333 Ga.App. 2] In July 2013, the Division of Family and Children Services (" DFCS" ) filed a deprivation petition against the mother, who had an active case plan for drug use and inadequate supervision, alleging that the mother had unresolved substance abuse problems and was inadequately supervising her children, including L. R. M. In August 2013, the juvenile court entered an emergency order authorizing DFCS to remove the children from the grandmother's home and granting temporary custody to DFCS. DFCS then placed L. R. M. and his siblings in the home of a maternal sister.

In October 2013, the juvenile court found that L. R. M. was deprived based on the mother's substance abuse problem and the mother's and the incarcerated father's inability to provide adequate supervision, housing, and support for the child. The juvenile court

Page 256

ordered DFCS to develop a case plan to reunite L. R. M. with the mother. The mother's case plan required her to, among other things, obtain a substance abuse assessment, complete a drug treatment program, remain drug free for six months, submit to random drug screens, obtain stable housing and income, pay child support, and attend all scheduled visits.[2]

Following L. R. M.'s removal from her home, the grandmother was allowed two hours of supervised visitation every other week. By February 2014, the grandmother was allowed to have overnight visits, and she was aware that she was not to allow the mother to have unsupervised visits with L. R. M. In April 2014, however, DFCS terminated her unsupervised visits because of concerns that the grandmother was allowing the mother to have unsupervised visits with L. R. M., and because the mother had been arrested. Regarding the mother's arrest, the evidence showed that the mother was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant during a drug bust while in the company of the grandmother's other ...


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