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Case Law Update

Posted By By Audrey B. Bergeson, Esq. on October 30, 2017, Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Wilson v. Moore 2017 Ga. App. LEXIS 384 August 15, 2017 The Court of Appeals notes in this opinion that this case “has a very unusual and convoluted factual situation.” These convoluted and “basically undisputed” facts were as follows. The child was born of one sexual encounter between Mr. Moore (biological father) and Ms. Wilson (mother), which resulted in the birth of the child who was the subject of this litigation. Around the same time, Ms. Wilson began a relationship with Mr. Wilson. Mr. and Ms. Wilson later married, though they were not married when the child was conceived or born. However, Mr. Wilson did administratively legitimate the child. Mr. Moore learned later learned of the child and subsequently filed a Petition for DNA Genetic Paternity Testing and Legitimation. Mr. Wilson intervened, moved to Dismiss Mr. Moore’s petition, and filed his own petition for legitimation. Consent orders were entered between the parties allowing for Mr. Wilson to intervene in the case and ordering DNA testing. DNA testing showed that Mr. Moore was the father. Mr. Wilson then amended his pleadings to add a counterclaim for adoption. The trial court determined that Mr. Moore had not abandoned his opportunity interest and concluded that Mr. Wilson was not the legal father of the child by virtue of marriage, legitimation, or adoption. The Wilsons contend on appeal that the trial court erred by failing to consider the effect of Mr. Wilson’s administrative legitimation on Mr. Moore’s legitimation petition. The Court of appeals agreed, reversed, and remanded with direction that as a threshold matter the trial court must consider any preclusive effect of the preexisting administrative legitimation. The Court included a parenthetical citation to Davis v. Labrec, 274 Ga. 5 (2001) quoting its instruction, “’ we direct the court to determine the crucial issue of whether the delegitimation of the child’s lifelong relationship with [the legal father] is in the best interest of the child….’” Leone v. Griffin 2017 Ga. App. LEXIS 362 August 2, 2017 Trial court denied Mr. Leone’s motion for new trial, which he appealed on the basis that the trial court erred in failing to hold a hearing. The court of appeals reversed the trial court, holding as “our Supreme Court has made clear, ‘Uniform Superior Court Rule 6.3 requires a trial court to hold an oral hearing on all motions for new trial in civil cases, unless otherwise specifically ordered by the court,’” and that further if a trial court denies a motion for new trial without holding a hearing, “’the error will not be deemed harmless on appeal.’” Because the trial court had not issued an order excepting the motion for new trial from this requirement and denied the motion without hearing, the court of appeals reversed.

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