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In re J.M.G.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

June 27, 2013

IN RE: J.M.G. A MINOR CHILD [Appeal by: R.B., Father]

Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case No. SU 09722663

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Deanna L. DiPetta Victoria A. Glowacki Andrew A. Zashin Zashin & Rich Co., L.P.A.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE J.G.: Patrick M. Farrell Patrick M. Farrell Co., L.P.A.

ATTORNEYS FOR C.J.F.S. Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Joseph C. Young Assistant County Prosecutor C.J.F.S.

BEFORE: Rocco, J., Boyle, P.J., and Kilbane, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

KENNETH A. ROCCO, JUDGE

{¶ 1} Obligor-appellant R.B. appeals from the judgment of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, ordering R.B. to pay $3, 908.15 in monthly child support to obligee-appellee, J.G., for the support of their minor child, J.M.G. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Factual and Procedural Background

{¶ 2} J.M.G. was born on August 3, 2008. After the child was born, R.B. filed a custody case in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division (Cuyahoga C.P. No. PR 09705332), for the purpose of determining custody and companionship rights with respect to J.M.G. On June 22, 2009, while the custody action was pending, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency ("CSEA") issued an administrative child support order requiring R.B. to pay J.G. $4, 528.11 a month, plus a 2 percent processing fee, for child support for J.M.G. and to provide medical insurance for the child. On July 21, 2009, R.B. filed objections to the CSEA's administrative child support order, along with a motion to modify support and a motion to stay enforcement of the administrative child support order, in the pending custody case.

{¶3} By magistrate's order in the custody case, entered on September 19, 2009, R.B. was found not to have properly perfected his objections to the administrative child support order. He was granted leave until October 19, 2009, to amend and correct the deficiencies with his objections. R.B. contends that his counsel never received a copy of the September 19, 2009 order and did not learn of the order until a subsequent pretrial in the custody matter. In any event, R.B. failed to comply with the September 19, 2009 order. Accordingly, on December 30, 2009, the trial court entered a judgment entry in the custody case, dismissing R.B.'s objections to the administrative child support order without prejudice. The administrative child support order then went into effect.[1]

{¶ 5} On October 6, 2010 and November 30, 2010, the magistrate held hearings on the motions. On July 11, 2011, the magistrate issued a decision (1) denying R.B.'s objections to the administrative order on the basis of res judicata, and (2) denying R.B.'s motion to modify his child support obligation on the ground that R.B. had failed to prove a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a modification of the child support order. Under the magistrate's decision, R.B.'s monthly child support obligation of $4, 528.11 (plus fee) remained unchanged. On July 25, 2011, R.B. filed "preliminary objections" to the magistrate's decision. Without ruling on R.B.'s objections, on October 5, 2011, the trial court entered judgment on the magistrate's decision, adopting the magistrate's decision in full.

{¶4} On December 8, 2009, prior to the dismissal of his objections in the custody action, R.B. filed the support action that is the subject of this appeal (Cuyahoga C.P. No. SU 09772663), in which he refiled the objections to the administrative order, motion to modify support, and motion to stay enforcement of the administrative child support order that he had previously filed in the custody case, along with an application to adopt administrative order, an application to determine child support, and a motion to correct child support arrearage and determine overpayment. R.B. argued that his monthly child support payment as set forth in the administrative order was excessive and that the CSEA's calculation of the parties' child support obligations violated R.C. 3119.04(B). R.B. also argued that his annual income had decreased, and was expected to continue to decrease, as a result of tort reform and a decision issued by the Ohio Supreme Court that limited claims in his primary area of practice.

{¶6} On October 27, 2011, R.B. filed an appeal with this court. The appeal was dismissed for lack of a final, appealable order and remanded to the trial court. Upon remand, the trial court permitted the parties to submit supplemental objections to the magistrate's decision. In his preliminary and supplemental objections, R.B. objected to the magistrate's recommended denial of his December 8, 2009 objections to the administrative child support order, arguing that (1) denial of his objections would elevate "form over substance" and violate due process, and (2) the December 30, 2009 dismissal of his July 21, 2009 objections had no res judicata effect. R.B. also objected to the magistrate's recommended denial of his motion to modify his child support obligation, arguing that (1) the court abused its discretion in determining that there had not been a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant modification of the child support order, (2) additional income should have been imputed to J.G., and (3) the calculation of his child support obligation did not comply with R.C. 3119.04(B) and 3119.22.

{¶ 7} On August 27, 2012, the trial court issued a judgment entry, ruling on each of R.B.'s objections and adopting the magistrate's decision in part and modifying it in part. With respect to R.B.'s objections to the administrative child support order, the trial court determined that it had "no jurisdiction over the matters dealt with in [the custody matter]" and that R.B.'s objections to the administrative order filed on December 8, 2009, were untimely, having been filed outside the 30-day time period prescribed by R.C. 3111.84. As such, R.B.'s objections were denied. With respect to R.B.'s motion to modify the administrative child support order, the trial court determined that R.B. had demonstrated a significant change in circumstances sufficient to warrant modification of the child support order. Using the extrapolation method of computing child support, the trial court determined the parties' child support obligations (including $50, 000 in income imputed to J.G.) by completing the basic child support computation worksheet based on the parties' combined gross income. Concluding that there was a greater than 10 percent difference between R.B.'s child support obligation as computed on the worksheet and the child support ordered in the June 22, 2009 child support administrative order, the trial court held that R.B. was entitled to a modification of his child support obligation. The trial court ordered R.B. to pay monthly child support of $3, 908.15 if he provided health insurance for J.M.G., and $4, 026.77 in monthly child support if health insurance was not provided.

{¶8} R.B. appeals the trial court's judgment, raising seven assignments of error:

FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
The trial court erred in finding that the magistrate's decision was minimally sufficient so that it could conduct the independent review thereof as required by Civil Rule 53 and Juvenile Rule 40.
SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
The trial court erred in dismissing for lack of jurisdiction the appellant's objections to the administrative child support order under the Ohio savings statute.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
The trial court abused its discretion by dismissing the appellant's objections to the administrative child support order and application to determine child support after appellant had corrected any procedural ...

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