Tuesday, November 12, 2013

O’Neal v. Wilkes case brief

O’Neal v. Wilkes case brief summary
439 S.E.2d 490 (1994)

Appellant orphan sought review of a judgment notwithstanding the verdict entered by the Liberty Superior Court (Georgia) in favor of appellee executor in a virtual adoption action.


Appellant child's mother died when she was a child, and her father never legitimized or supported appellant. Appellant's aunt allowed the decedent to raise appellant and the decedent referred to appellant as his child. Appellant brought a virtual adoption action to obtain a share of the decedent's property after he died. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of appellee executor.


  • On appeal, the court affirmed. 
  • The court held that in order for a contract for adoption to be valid, it must be made between persons competent to contract for the disposition of the child. 
  • The court held that the aunt, who had physical custody of appellant but was never appointed legal custodian or guardian of appellant, had no authority to contract for appellant's adoption to decedent. 
  • The court also recognized that the consent of appellant's father was unnecessary because he had never legitimized nor supported the child.


The court affirmed the judgment notwithstanding the verdict granted by the trial court in favor of the administrator.

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