Teasley v. Clark

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Docket NumberA21A1017
Decision Date01 November 2021



No. A21A1017

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Fifth Division

November 1, 2021



In this appeal, the father of a minor child challenges trial court orders awarding the child's stepfather temporary visitation rights as an equitable caregiver of the child under OCGA § 19-7-3.1. The appellant claims that this statute is unconstitutional; but no such constitutional issue was ruled on by the trial court, so it may not be raised on appeal. The appellant further claims that the trial court's orders do not comply with the holding in Land v. Wrobel, 220 Ga. 260 (138 S.E.2d 315) (1964); but his reliance on that case is misplaced since it was decided prior to enactment of, and does not involve, the equitable caregiver statute at issue in this case. And contrary to the appellant's additional claim that the trial court erred in failing to include findings of


fact in its equitable caregiver order, no such findings were required to be set forth in the order. So we affirm.

1. Facts and procedural posture.

Craig Clark, the stepfather of minor child B. T., filed a complaint against Wayne Teasley, the biological father of B. T., seeking standing as an equitable caregiver and joint legal and secondary physical custody of the child. In his complaint and attached affidavit, Clark alleged that he began dating B. T.'s mother, Stephanie Baumer (later, "Stephanie Clark"), in 2010, when B. T. was one year old; that he married her in 2013 while stationed with the military in Virginia; that after his discharge from the military in 2014, the three of them lived together in Georgia; that in 2016, they had another son, B. T.'s half-brother H. C.; that Stephanie Clark died in a car accident in 2020; that Clark had helped care for and support B. T. until the time of Stephanie Clark's death, after which B. T. went to live with Teasley; and that during their years living together, Clark and B. T. developed a bond as parent and child. Teasley filed an answer and motion to dismiss the complaint, but failed to file his responsive affidavit as required by OCGA § 19-7-3.1 (b) (2). The trial court held evidentiary hearings, after which it entered an order establishing Clark's standing as an equitable caregiver of B. T. pursuant to OCGA § 19-7-3.1 (b). The following day,


the court entered another order awarding Clark certain visitation rights with B. T. on a temporary basis. Teasley appeals, challenging both the temporary visitation order and the order establishing Clark's standing as an equitable caregiver.

2. Constitutionality of statute.

Teasley challenges the...

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