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Dowhan v. Dowhan

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District

September 23, 2013

SHARON M. DOWHAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TERRANCE DOWHAN, Defendant-Appellant.

Civil Appeal from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, Case No. 08 DR 000652.

Pamela D. Kurt and Randy A. Vermilya, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

Edwin V. Hargate, (For Defendant-Appellant).

OPINION

DIANE V. GRENDELL, J.

(¶1} Defendant-appellant, Terrance Dowhan, appeals the Judgment of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, denying his Motion to Modify Custody and Establish Visitation. The issue before this court is whether a court may adjudicate a motion to modify visitation based on the outcome of a related proceeding to establish a civil protection order. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the court below.

(¶2} On April 1, 2009, the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, granted a divorce to plaintiff-appellee, Sharon M. Dowhan, and Terrance Dowhan. At the time of the divorce, the parties were the parents of three minor children. The Judgment Entry of Divorce provided, in relevant part, that Terrance "shall not have parenting time until further order of court or upon motion filed by defendant."

(¶3} At the time of the divorce, Terrance was serving a thirty-month prison sentence for Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of Alcohol. State v. Dowhan, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2008-L-064, 2009-Ohio-684, ¶ 3-4.

(¶4} On February 8, 2011, Sharon filed a petition for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order, docketed as Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, Case No. 11 DV 000019, after receiving a letter from Terrance threatening her with serious physical injury. Dowhan v. Dowhan, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2012-L-037, 2012-Ohio-5830, ¶ 4 and 26 ("my aim is to hurt you for doing all you have done to me").

(¶5} On April 18, 2011, Terrance was released from incarceration. Id. at ¶ 5.

(¶6} On April 25, 2011, the domestic relations court, in Case No. 11 DV 000019, granted Sharon a protection order, ordering Terrance to maintain a distance of 1, 000 feet from her and the children, effective until April 22, 2016. This order was not appealed. Id. at ¶ 5-6.

(¶7} On July 1, 2011, Terrance filed a Motion to Modify Custody and Establish Visitation. Terrance argued that, at the time of the divorce, he "was incarcerated and undergoing alcohol treatment." Since that time, "[h]e has completed all his treatment and * * * is complying well with all terms of probation." Terrance further asserted that he "is clean and sober, and he has all precautions in place to make sure that he maintains that lifestyle."

(¶8} On November 17, 2011, in Case No. 11 DV 000019, Terrance filed a motion to modify the protection order by removing the children as protected persons. Id. at ¶ 6.

(¶9} On April 4, 2012, the domestic relations court, in Case No. 11 DV 000019, denied the motion to modify the protection order and this court, in Dowhan v. Dowhan, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2012-L-037, 2012-Ohio-5830, affirmed.

(¶10} This court recognized that "[t]here is no dispute that Sharon was the victim of unabated physical abuse at the hands of appellant for 15 years, " during which time she witnessed "countless acts of physical abuse committed by appellant against the children." Id. at ΒΆ 49. One of the children (now emancipated) and Terrance's stepdaughter testified in support of the protection order, noting that life with Terrance was "a living hell" and detailing various acts of physical and mental abuse ...


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