IN RE: S.D., ET AL. Minor Children [Appeal by A.C., Mother]
Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case Nos. AD-10907793, AD-10907792, and AD-10916364
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT, MOTHER Britta M. Barthol
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Laura M. Brewster Assistant County Prosecutor C.C.D.C.F.S.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM: James Dunn
BEFORE: E.A. Gallagher, J., Rocco, P.J., and Blackmon, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN A. GALLAGHER, JUDGE
(¶1} In this consolidated appeal appellant-mother A.C. appeals from the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Division Court's decisions granting permanent custody of her three daughters to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS"). As required by App.R. 11.1(D), this court has expedited the hearing and disposition of these appeals. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.
(¶2} CCDCFS filed complaints with respect to appellant's two elder daughters, J.C. and S.D. on April 30, 2010. The complaint alleged that both children had been diagnosed with failure to thrive and that appellant had failed to take the children to necessary medical appointments to address their conditions and had failed to follow through with medical recommendations including maintaining appropriate food logs.
(¶3} In July 2010, appellant admitted to the allegations of the amended complaints and the juvenile court adjudged the children to be neglected. The trial court ordered temporary custody in favor of CCDCFS at that time.
(¶4} Appellant's third daughter, A.C, was born on August 9, 2010. A complaint regarding A.C. was filed on September 8, 2010 alleging that A.C. had been hospitalized since birth due to low birth weight and feeding issues. In addition to the information asserted in the prior complaints, A.C.'s complaint asserted that appellant has no consistent income with which to provide for A.C.'s basic needs. The trial court granted a motion for pre-adjudicatory temporary custody of A.C. on September 13, 2010. Eventually all three girls were placed in the same foster home.
(¶5} On February 2, 2011, appellant stipulated to the allegations in the amended complaint with regard to A.C, and A.C. was found to be dependant. The trial court committed A.C. to the temporary custody of CCDCFS.
(¶6} Between April 2010 and April 2012 numerous pretrial hearings were conducted resulting in extensions of time for the temporary custody orders of the children while appellant made progress towards a case plan of reuniting her with the children.
(¶7} In April 2012, CCDCFS filed a motion seeking permanent custody of both of the older children. In August 2012, CCDCFS filed a motion for permanent custody of A.C. as well. On August 16, 2012, appellant filed a motion for legal custody of the children seeking an order of legal custody in favor of her mother (hereinafter "maternal grandmother").
(¶ 8} The trial court held a trial on the consolidated cases on December 13, 2012. The trial court issued journal entries on December 28, 2012 granting CCDCFS's motions for permanent custody of the children and denying appellant's motion for legal custody in favor of maternal grandmother. Appellant appeals from these orders assigning the following two assignments of error:
Assignment of Error I: The trial court's decision to award permanent custody to CCDCFS was against the manifest weight of the evidence as it was not supported by clear and convincing evidence.
Assignment of Error II: The trial court erred in granting the motion for permanent custody when there was a suitable relative who could provide a legally secure alternative placement option for the minor children.
(¶ 9} Because these assignments of error deal with interrelated issues of law and fact, ...