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Legal Information: Georgia

Statutes: Georgia

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Updated: 
October 29, 2019

19-7-3.1. Adjudicated equitable caregiver

(a) The court may adjudicate an individual to be an equitable caregiver.

(b) An individual seeking to be adjudicated an equitable caregiver of a child under this Code section may establish standing to maintain the action in accordance with the following:

(1) File with the initial pleading an affidavit alleging under oath specific facts to support the existence of an equitable caregiver relationship with the child as set forth in subsection (d) of this Code section. The pleadings and affidavit shall be served upon all parents and legal guardians of the child and any other party to the proceeding;

(2) An adverse party, parent, or legal guardian who files a pleading in response to the pleadings in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall also file an affidavit in response, serving all parties to the proceeding with a copy;

(3) The court shall determine on the basis of the pleadings and affidavits pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection whether such individual has presented prima facie evidence of the requirements set forth in subsection (d) of this Code section. The court may in its sole discretion, if necessary and on an expedited basis, hold a hearing to determine undisputed facts that are necessary and material to the issue of standing; and

(4) If the court’s determination under paragraph (3) of this subsection is in the affirmative, the party claiming to be an equitable caregiver has standing to proceed to adjudication under subsection (d) of this Code section.

(c) A document substantially in the following form may be used to create a pleading and affidavit for purposes of paragraph (1) of subsection (d) of this Code section:

“IN THE __________ COURT OF __________ COUNTY

STATE OF GEORGIA

A.B.,

_________________

)

Plaintiff

)

)

v.

)

Civil Action

)

File no. ________

C.D.,

_________________

)

Defendant

)

COMPLAINT

The defendant C.D., herein named, is a resident of _____________________ (street), _______________, (city) ________________ County, Georgia, and is subject to the jurisdiction of this court.

As of ___________ (date), Plaintiff can fully demonstrate to the court that:

(1) Plaintiff has fully and completely undertaken a permanent, unequivocal, committed, and responsible parental role in the child’s life;

(2) Engaged in consistent caretaking of the child;

(3) Established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child, the relationship was fostered or supported by a parent of the child, and such individual and the parent have understood, acknowledged, or accepted or behaved as though such individual is a parent of the child; and

(4) Accepted full and permanent responsibilities as a parent of the child without expectation of financial compensation.

The facts of the case are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

Dated

Pro Se Applicant

Address

Address

(CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE)”

“AFFIDAVIT OF PETITIONER

STATE OF GEORGIA

COUNTY OF ______________________

Personally appeared before me, the undersigned officer duly authorized to administer oaths, ____________________, who, after having been sworn, deposes, and says as follows:

That my name is:

That my address is:

These are the facts to support the existence of an equitable caregiver relationship with a child as set forth in subsection (c) of O.C.G.A. 19-7-3.1:

Dated

Pro Se Applicant

Address

Address

Sworn to and subscribed

Before me this ________

Day of ________, ____________.

__________________________________

Notary public (SEAL)

My commission expires: __________________”

(d) In order to establish standing, the court shall first find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the individual has:

(1) Fully and completely undertaken a permanent, unequivocal, committed, and responsible parental role in the child’s life;

(2) Engaged in consistent caretaking of the child;

(3) Established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child, the relationship was fostered or supported by a parent of the child, and such individual and the parent have understood, acknowledged, or accepted or behaved as though such individual is a parent of the child;

(4) Accepted full and permanent responsibilities as a parent of the child without expectation of financial compensation; and

(5) Demonstrated that the child will suffer physical harm or long-term emotional harm and that continuing the relationship between such individual and the child is in the best interest of the child.

(e) In determining the existence of harm, the court shall consider factors related to the child’s needs, including, but not limited to:

(1) Who are the past and present caretakers of the child;

(2) With whom has the child formed psychological bonds and the strength of those bonds;

(3) Whether competing parties evidenced an interest in, and contact with, the child over time; and

(4) Whether the child has unique medical or psychological needs that one party is better able to meet.

(f) A court may grant standing on an individual seeking to be adjudicated as an equitable caregiver on the basis of the consent of the child’s parent for such individual to have a parental relationship with the child, or on the basis of a written agreement between the individual seeking to be adjudicated as an equitable caregiver and the child’s parent, indicating an intention to share or divide caregiving responsibilities for the child.

(g) The court may enter an order as appropriate to establish parental rights and responsibilities for such individual, including, but not limited to, custody or visitation.

(h) This Code section shall not authorize an original action when both parents of the minor child are not separated and the child is living with both parents.

(i) This Code section shall not authorize an original action by an individual whose relationship with the child was established as a result of a proceeding under Article 3 of Chapter 11 of Title 15 and shall not authorize an original action so long as the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services has an open child welfare and youth services case involving such child or his or her parent.

(j) The adjudication of a person under this Code section as an equitable caregiver does not disestablish the parentage of any other parent.