News

Georgia: In Civil Matters, Kids Can’t Judge Own Best Interests

Georgia State CapitalEarlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that children within the state are “not the correct parties to determine what is in their own best interests in civil matters.”

“The protector of a child’s best interest in a deprivation proceeding is his guardian ad litem,” wrote Justice Harold Melton in the court’s majority opinion. “It would be inappropriate, indeed unwise, to allow a child, especially one under the circumstances of deprivation, to override all other decisions regarding his best interests.”

The ruling stems from a case involving a minor in Walton County, Ga., who sought to appeal a Juvenile Court ruling that found the juvenile to be “deprived.” After an appellate court turned down the appeal, a writ of certiorari was granted by the state’s highest court.

Fundamentally, the state Supreme Court ruling means that in Georgia, children involved in “deprivation actions” — acting through an attorney — do not have legal standing to appeal a court judgment if the child’s legal guardian chooses not to appeal the same ruling.

“Under the dissent’s analysis, a child, from the moment he or she learns to speak, could mandate an appeal of a trial court’s deprivation finding,” Justice Melton wrote. “Entertaining an appeal brought directly by a baby, rather than a guardian entrusted with the baby’s best interests, would be highly misguided.”

Writing in dissent, Chief Justice Carol Hunstein stated that the opinion of the Court establishes a model that “unfairly denies” older juveniles and their attorneys any say in determining the minors’ future. Furthermore, she argued that the ruling may grant “absolute authority” to “the least trained” advocates to determine an individual child’s best interests.

“Instead, this Court should adopt a rule that acknowledges that the child, as the party most affected by the finding of deprivation, has standing to appeal through his attorney,” she wrote.

“Because the juvenile in this deprivation action was represented by legal counsel and his attorney was the best protector and advocate of his legal interests, I would hold that [the child] has standing to appeal the juvenile court’s finding that he was deprived.”

Photo by Ken Lund | Flickr

Comments

Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.

DONORS & DONOR TRANSPARENCY

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Search

Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top