Mitchum v. Manning, A10A0151
*All courts mentioned are at the state level.
- Trial court did not err in concluding that visitation with Father was in adult disabled child’s best interest.
- Child was a ward of the state until she was 18, at which time Mother was appointed her legal guardian.
- In support of her contention that visitation with Father was against the child’s best interest, Mother testified that Father had physically abused her 30 years ago while she was pregnant with the child, and that the child became disoriented when confronted with strangers.
- Father denied the abuse allegations, and his present wife and several other individuals testified on his behalf to his character. Father also presented evidence that he had previously visited the child on numerous occasions without harmful results.
- Agreeing with the trial court that the record was insufficient to justify denying Father visitation with his daughter, the Court held it would not deny a parent all visitation rights absent exceptional circumstances in which there is “reasonable probative evidence” that the parent is morally unfit.
- The Court explained that while Georgia gives a legal guardian general authority to exercise powers necessary to provide for the health and welfare of the ward, it also dictates that the ward has the right to communicate freely and privately with persons other than the guardian.
- The Court also noted Georgia’s strong policy in favor of allowing a divorced parent continuing contact with his or her child so long as the parent has demonstrated the ability to act in the child’s best interest.
- Richard Phillips for appellant
- Curtis Van Cheney Jr. for appellee
Long Superior Court; Judge Charles P. Rose.