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In re A.W.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District

September 23, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: A.W. AND G.W., ALLEGED DEPENDENT CHILDREN

Civil Appeal from the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. Case No. 12JF000366.

Jeffrey A. Crossman, (For Appellants Lawrence and Kathleen Bettlejewski).

Jeffrey S. Brown, (For Appellee Eric Hunt).

Paul J. Mooney, Law Office of Paul J. Mooney, (For Appellee Michelle Weikart).

James R. Flaiz, Geauga County Prosecutor, and Craig A. Swenson, Assistant Prosecutor, Courthouse Annex, (For Appellee Geauga County Job and Family Services).

Kathy Brigg, CASA, (Guardian ad litem).

OPINION

TIMOTHY P. CANNON, P.J.

(¶1} Appellants, Lawrence and Kathleen Bettlejewski, paternal grandparents of A.W. and G.W., appeal the decision of the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, granting certain temporary visitation rights of G.W. to non-relative Mr. Eric Hunt, the biological father of A.W., but not of G.W. Appellants also purport to appeal from the trial court's judgment entry which advises, sua sponte, that appellants are not parties and failed to file a motion to intervene. As set forth below, the appeal must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

(¶2} This case was initiated on August 9, 2012, when Geauga County Job and Family Services ("GCJFS") filed a complaint alleging A.W., age 8, and G.W., age 6, to be dependent children. The complaint noted that on June 29, 2012, the agency entered into a safety plan with the children's mother wherein she agreed that A.W. and G.W. would reside with appellants while the social worker could investigate the case further. The complaint also noted Mr. Hunt was A.W.'s biological father. On September 18, 2012, the trial court found A.W. and G.W. to be dependent, pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C).

(¶3} Appellants and Mr. Hunt both filed respective motions for custody. The trial court, in a November 21, 2012 order, granted Mr. Hunt temporary visitation rights of both A.W. and G.W. for the months of November and December. This order is now the subject of the instant appeal.

(¶4} On December 6, 2012, appellants appealed the visitation order. Appellants assert two assignments of error in their merit brief. Appellants' first assignment of error states:

(¶5} "The trial court erred in stating that appellants were not parties to the case given that the trial court awarded appellants temporary custody."

(¶6} Appellate courts are required to raise jurisdictional questions sua sponte. In the absence of a timely appeal from a final, appealable order, an appellate court does not have jurisdiction to review the issue. See App.R. 4(A); see also Barnes v. Andover Village Retirement Community, Ltd., 11th Dist. Ashtabula No. 2003-A-0122, 2004-Ohio-1705, ¶10, citing State ex rel. Pendell v. Adams Cty. Bd. of Elections, 40 Ohio St.3d 58, 60 (1988) ("[t]he time requirement is jurisdictional in nature, and may not be enlarged by an appellate court"). Thus, though not raised in any brief, we must first determine whether this court has jurisdiction to consider the first assignment of error.

(¶7} The trial court explained in a December 7, 2012 entry-one day after the notice of appeal was filed-that appellants did not have standing to file motions or an appeal because they were neither parties to the case nor did they file a motion to intervene. As this entry has not been appealed, we do not have jurisdiction to consider any associated arguments or its effect on the parties or proceedings, if any. See App.R. 3; App.R. 4. Further, this entry is moot because the trial court essentially acknowledged, via a December 10, 2012 judgment entry, the ...


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