Carson 07L wins Georgia Court of Appeals parental rights case

October 30, 2013

Janine Carson 07L won a notable decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals concerning conflicting orders from separate courts in a case involving parental rights. The case, In the Interest of J.C.W. et al., children, clarified which court had jurisdiction in the matter of a mother whose young twins were in foster care. The foster parents asked for termination of the mother's parental rights and sought custody of the twins in Superior Court. The Georgia Court of Appeals found the superior court lacked jurisdiction to terminate the mother's parental rights to children.

"In cases involving issues of concurrent jurisdiction between juvenile courts and superior courts, Georgia courts have repeatedly held that 'the first court taking jurisdiction will retain it,'" the opinion reads. "The competing orders issued concerning the mother's parental rights regarding the twins demonstrate the wisdom of this rule. The juvenile court has issued an order concluding that termination of the mother's parental rights is not in the best interest of the children, and the superior court has entered an order reaching the opposite conclusion. Because it is undisputed that a termination petition was first filed in juvenile court, we conclude the superior court erred by exercising jurisdiction over the issue of termination."

Read the opinion here.

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