Court of Appeals Affirms Stepparent Adoption Case Brought and Defended by SM&P Partners

by Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor

SM&P partner Tracy Crider obtained a judgment for step-parent adoption by a Georgia stepfather.   When the biological father appealed the case, partner Ryan Proctor successfully defended the trial court ruling on appeal and had the adoption judgment affirmed.  Both victories hinged on the biological father’s failure to provide financial support for the child over a period of more than a year, resulting in the termination of his parental rights, followed by an appeal ruling that the adoption by the stepfather, who had been raising the child for several years prior (and also for several years while the case moved through the legal system), was in the child’s best interests.

Our client, the step-father, had been married to the mother and raising the child for a few years when he hired Tracy to pursue the adoption.  Their case was based on the failure of the father to provide financial support for or have contact with the child for a lengthy period of time.  The father disputed those allegations and argued that the mother left the marriage with some of his money, in a failed attempt to argue that this constituted prepayment of support for the child.  The father demonstrated that he had tried to request visitation on at least a few occasions by email.  He argued that the mother had thwarted his efforts to be a part of the child’s life by preventing contact, but also admitted to several instances of physical abuse against her and acknowledged that at all times he knew where she and child lived, which was in close proximity to his own home.

There are intricate legal issues involved when adoptions are opposed and when any case goes up on appeal. A high level of attention and expertise is needed to win such cases.  Tracy, Ryan, and the firm were pleased to fight for the unification of this family and for the legal rights of adoptive parents in Georgia.