IN THE INTEREST OF K. G., a child.
MCFADDEN, P. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
McFadden, Presiding Judge.
mother of K. G. appeals the juvenile court order granting a
petition for permanent guardianship of the child. The mother
argues that the juvenile court erroneously failed to consider
certain required factors when determining whether reasonable
efforts to reunify her with the child would be detrimental to
the child. But the court is no longer required to consider
those factors. And construed in favor of the juvenile
court's ruling, the record demonstrates that the juvenile
court could have found by clear and convincing evidence that
reunification services would be detrimental to the child. The
mother has abandoned her argument that the juvenile court
erred in finding the guardianship to be in the child's
best interests. So we affirm.
was born with Down syndrome and a heart condition, and has
special needs. The guardian, who is the mother's half
sister, took the child when the mother went to the hospital
for treatment of her asthma and had no one else to look after
the child. The guardian did not return the child when the
mother was released from the hospital, instead seeking
custody based upon the child's dependency. The juvenile
court entered an order finding the child to be dependent, and
about two years later, granted the guardian's petition
for permanent guardianship, awarding the mother visitation.
The mother filed this appeal.
Failure to consider certain factors.
mother argues that the juvenile court failed to consider
certain required factors before awarding permanent
guardianship of the child. However, the new Juvenile Code,
which governs this case, see In the Interest of M.
F., 298 Ga. 138, 140 (1), n. 4 (780 S.E.2d 291) (2015),
does not require consideration of those factors. So we
In the Interest of L. B., 319 Ga.App. 173 (735
S.E.2d 162) (2012), the mother argues that, before
determining whether reasonable efforts to reunify the mother
and child would be detrimental to the child under OCGA §
15-11-240 (a) (1), the juvenile court was required to
consider four factors:
(1) [whether the mother] unjustifiably failed to complete a
previously ordered reunification plan, (2) [whether] the
child had been removed from the home on at least two previous
occasions, (3) [whether] any of the grounds for terminating
parental rights set forth in [former] OCGA § 15-11-94
(b) exist, or (4) [whether] reasonable efforts to reunify are
deemed unnecessary under [former] OCGA § 15-11-58 (a)
In the Interest of L. B., 319 Ga.App. at 176 (2).
But in In the Interest of L. B., we addressed the
former version of the guardianship statute, OCGA §
15-11-30.1, which mandated consideration of the four factors
by referencing the statute that contained them.
that former version of the statute stated that before a
juvenile court could appoint a permanent guardian of a child,
it had to "[f]ind that reasonable efforts to reunify the
child with his or her parent would be detrimental to the
child in accordance with subsection (h) of [former] Code
Section 15-11-58 [which set forth those four factors] or find
that the living parents or parent of the child have consented
to the permanent guardianship[.]" Former OCGA §
15-11-31.1 (a) (2) (A) (i). The new version of the
guardianship statute, OCGA § 15-11-240, states in
pertinent part that before a juvenile court may appoint a
permanent guardian of a child, it must "[f]ind that
reasonable efforts to reunify such child with his or her
parents would be detrimental to such child or find that the
living parents of such child have consented to the permanent
guardianship[.]" OCGA § 15-11-240 (a) (1). The new
statute omits reference to the four factors or to any statute
referencing them. We must presume that the General
Assembly's omission was a matter of considered choice.
See generally Inland Paperboard &c v. Ga. Dept. of
Revenue, 274 Ga.App. 101, 104 (616 S.E.2d 873) (2005).
Consequently, the fact that the juvenile court did not
explicitly consider the four factors set forth in our former
Juvenile Code and discussed in In the Interest of L.
B., supra, does not entitle the mother to reversal.
Evidence supports the juvenile court's decision.
noted above, under the applicable statute, the juvenile court
was required to find that reasonable efforts to reunify K. G.
with her mother would be detrimental to K. G. OCGA §
15-11-240 (a) (1). The juvenile court made this finding,
essentially determining that the mother's behavior at K.
G.'s medical and ...