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In re C.V.M.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

August 1, 2013

IN RE: C.V.M., JR. A Minor Child [Appeal by C.V.M., Sr., Father]

Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case No. AD 03902263

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT, FATHER MarkS. O'Brien Heights Medical Center Building.

FOR APPELLEES FOR STEPMOTHER A.W., pro se.

FOR MOTHER L.S.M., pro se, GUARDIAN AD LITEM Michael B. Granito

BEFORE: EA. Gallagher, J., Celebrezze, P.J., and Kilbane, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

EILEEN A. GALLAGHER, J.

{¶ 1} Father-appellant appeals the trial court's decision that found him to be an unsuitable parent and awarded legal custody of his son, C.V.M., to appellee-custodian (hereinafter "stepmother"), a nonparent. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

{¶2} The pertinent background facts of this case were stated by this court in In Re: C.V.M., Jr., 8th Dist. No. 98340, 2012-Ohio-5514 ("C.V.M. I") as follows:

Appellant is the natural father of C.V.M., who was born in 2003. In 2004, the juvenile court granted custody of C.V.M. to father and his wife, who is not C.V.M. 's biological mother. Both father and wife acted as parents to the child. In 2010, wife filed for divorce against father. In May 2010, father filed a motion with the juvenile court for sole legal custody of C.V.M.; however, wife (hereinafter referred to as "custodian") obtained physical custody of the child. In August 2010, custodian was granted temporary custody of the child and was granted a divorce from father. Thereafter, a myriad of contentious motions were filed, and allegations were made by the parties against each other. Ultimately, motions were filed by custodian for sole legal custody of C.V.M. and by father for modification of the temporary custody order.
The trial court held a hearing on all pending motions, including the motions affecting the sole legal custody of C.V.M. The crux of the hearing was to determine who would be the child's legal custodian. The trial court took testimony from father, custodian, C.V.M.'s guardian ad litem, C.V.M.'s birth mother, and five character witnesses called on behalf of father. Following the hearing, the trial court issued a judgment entry and written opinion granting legal custody to custodian after finding that an award of custody to father would be detrimental to the child.

Id. at ¶ 2-3.

{¶3} In C.V.M. I, this court reversed the judgment of the trial court awarding sole custody to stepmother and remanded the case for the trial court to apply the correct legal standard of parental unsuitability to the facts elicited at the hearing. Upon remand, the trial court issued a new judgment entry finding appellant to be an unsuitable parent because an award of custody to appellant would be detrimental to C.V.M. The trial court again awarded legal custody of C.V.M. to stepmother. Appellant appeals from this judgment, asserting the following sole assignment of error:

The trial court abused its discretion in determining that [appellant] was an unsuitable parent.

{¶ 4} A trial court enjoys broad discretion in custody proceedings because "custody issues are some of the most difficult and agonizing decisions a trial judge must make." Davis v. Flickinger, 11 Ohio St.3d 415, 418, 1997-Ohio-260, 674 N.E.2d 1159. A trial court's custody determination will not be disturbed unless the court abused that discretion. Miller v. Miller, 37 Ohio St.3d 71, 74, 523 N.E.2d 846 (1988). An "abuse of discretion" connotes that the court's attitude is "unreasonable, ...


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