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Pearl v. Porrata

December 8, 2008

LANELLE PEARL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LEESHAWN PORRATA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



CHARACTER OF PROCEEDINGS: Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shaw, P.J.

OPINION

JUDGMENT: Judgment affirmed.

{¶1} Defendant-Appellant Leeshawn Porrata ("Porrata") appeals from the July 17, 2007 Judgment Entry and the October 3, 2007 Amended Judgment Entry of the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Juvenile Division, denying her motion to dismiss the parties' shared parenting plan for lack of jurisdiction.

{¶2} On April 26, 2006 Plaintiff-Appellee Lanelle Pearl ("Pearl") filed a motion for shared parenting. This motion was allegedly signed by both Pearl (father) and Porrata (mother), the parents of the parties' minor daughter. Attached to the motion was a copy of the parties' shared parenting plan, which specifically set forth an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the parties' minor daughter. On April 27, 2006 the juvenile court issued an entry approving the parties' shared parenting plan and adopting it as an order of the court.

{¶3} On or about May 25, 2006 Porrata went to Celina, Ohio to pick up her daughter from school, however, school officials would not permit her to do so pursuant to the terms of the shared parenting order. Pearl subsequently allowed Porrata to take their daughter to Chicago for visitation. However, on June 12, 2006 Pearl filed a motion and affidavit for temporary custody alleging that Porrata had absconded with the minor child and that her whereabouts were unknown, although believed to be in the Chicago area. In his affidavit, Pearl also stated "[t]hat he is the father and the Defendant, Leeshawn Porrata, is the mother" of the parties' daughter, age 6.

{¶4} On June 12, 2006 the juvenile court issued an Ex Parte Judgment Entry and Temporary Orders wherein the court stated, in relevant part, as follows:

This day this matter came before the Court on the written Motion and Affidavit of the Plaintiff, Lanelle Pearl. Based on the same and for good cause shown, the Court enters the following EX PARTE-TEMPORARY ORDERS:

1. The Plaintiff, Lanelle Pearl is designated Residential Parent and Legal Custodian of the parties' child.

2. The Defendant, Leeshawn Porrata is ordered to immediately deliver custody of [the parties' child] to the Plaintiff, Lanelle Pearl.

{¶5} On July 7, 2006 Porrata filed a motion to vacate orders and dismiss for want of jurisdiction alleging lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue.*fn1

Specifically, Porrata alleged that her signature had been forged on the motion for shared parenting. On July 11, 2006 the juvenile court issued a Judgment Entry staying its June 12, 2006 Ex Parte Orders and set this matter for a hearing on July 27, 2006. On August 14, 2006 the juvenile court issued a Judgment Entry ordering the parties to submit the name of an expert handwriting analyst. On August 28, 2006 Porrata filed handwriting samples and on September 1, 2006 Pearl filed handwriting samples.*fn2

{¶6} On July 3, 2007 the juvenile court conducted a hearing on the issues of jurisdiction and venue as set forth in Porrata's July 7, 2006 motion to vacate orders and dismiss for want of jurisdiction. At the hearing, testimony was presented by both Pearl and Porrata. In its July 17, 2007 Judgment Entry the juvenile court determined that Pearl's testimony was more credible than Porrata's testimony. The juvenile court also determined that Porrata had signed the April 26, 2006 motion and shared parenting plan "based upon the credible evidence presented." Additionally, the juvenile court determined that it had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the instant action and that venue was proper. Accordingly, the court adopted the parties' April 26, 2006 shared parenting plan as an order of the court. On October 3, 2007 the juvenile court issued an Amended Judgment Entry whereby it amended the July 17, 2007 Judgment Entry as follows: "Defendant's motion to vacate orders and dismiss for want of jurisdiction is not well taken and is hereby dismissed."

{¶7} Porrata now appeals, asserting two assignments of error.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED ERROR IN DENYING THE MOTION TO DISMISS FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT DEFENDANT-MOTHER SIGNED THE PARENTING PLAN.

{ΒΆ8} For ease of discussion, we elect to address Porrata's assignments ...


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