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In re W.A.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District

August 1, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: W.A., JR.

Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 21130114

For Appellant JOHN D. WEAVER

For Appellee MARIA N. KALIS ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR

OPINION

Wise, J.

{¶1} Appellant-Mother Kirsten Miller appeals the decision of the Court of Common Pleas, Muskingum County, Juvenile Division, which granted legal custody of her son, W.A., to a non-relative in a dependency/neglect action initiated by Appellee Muskingum County Children Services ("MCCS"). The relevant facts leading to this appeal are as follows.

{¶2} On July 11, 2011, Appellee MCCS took emergency custody of W.A., born in 2009, and filed with the trial court a complaint alleging that W.A. was a neglected or dependent child as defined in R.C. 2151.03(A)(2) and R.C. 2151.04(C). The concerns at that time included appellant's history of leaving W.A. with inappropriate caregivers, including an alleged father of the child who was then homeless and had been staying at a crack house, and that the child was dirty and had lice.[1] W.A. was placed in shelter care under the temporary custody of the agency following a shelter care hearing on July 11, 2011.

{¶3} W.A. was placed in foster care following his removal by MCCS. On August 11, 2011, following a home study by the agency, W.A. was moved from a temporary foster placement to a foster placement with Amanda Brunton, who is not related to the child. Following a hearing on September 29, 2011, W.A. was adjudicated to be a neglected and dependent child. The trial court held a dispositional hearing on the same day, and W.A. was placed in the temporary custody of Amanda Brunton with protective supervision granted to the Agency.

{¶4} On June 18, 2012, the agency filed a motion to modify temporary custody to legal custody to Ms. Brunton, and a motion to terminate protective supervision. The trial court held a hearing for both motions on September 11, 2012 and issued a judgment entry on December 3, 2012 terminating protective supervision of the agency and awarding legal custody of the child to Ms. Brunton.

{¶5} On, January 2, 2013, appellant filed a notice of appeal. She herein raises the following three Assignments of Error:

{¶6} "I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN AWARDING LEGAL CUSTODY TO A NON-PARENT WHO FAILED TO SIGN A STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING AS REQUIRED UNDER R.C. 2151.353(A)(3).

{¶7} "II. THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION AWARDING LEGAL CUSTODY TO AMANDA BRUNTON WAS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

{¶8} "III. APPELLANT WAS PREJUDICED BY THE INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL."

I.

{¶9} In her First Assignment of Error, appellant contends the trial court committed reversible error by awarding legal custody of W.A. to Amanda Brunton, a non-relative, without a signed statement of understanding as ...


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