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Mattox v. Clark

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield

April 3, 2017

AMBER M. CLARK NKA MATTOX Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
BART CLARK, ET AL. Defendants-Appellees

         Appeal from the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, Case No. 13 DR 204

          For Plaintiff-Appellant BARRY H. WOLINETZ DENNIS E. HORVATH

          For Defendants-Appellees BART CLARK, ET AL. PRO SE

          Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

          OPINION

          Hoffman, J.

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellant Amber M. Clark, nka Mattox, appeals the April 12, 2016 Judgment Entry entered by the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, which granted custody of her minor daughter to defendants-appellees Bart Clark and Keri Clark.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND FACTS

         {¶2} Appellant is the biological mother of S.C. (dob 8/15/07). Appellees are Appellant's parents and S.C.'s maternal grandparents. Appellant was 18 years old when she became pregnant with S.C. Appellant was financially unable to support herself and her baby, so she and S.C. initially resided with Appellees in their Colorado home.

         {¶3} In March, 2008, Appellees moved to Wyoming, taking S.C. with them. Appellant chose to remain in Colorado, and gave temporary custody of S.C. to Appellees. Appellees moved to Virginia in August, 2009. On April 30, 2010, Appellees filed a Petition for legal custody of S.C. in the Lexington/Rockbridge Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Juvenile Division, State of Virginia. Notice of the petition was served on Appellant through an Order of Publication posted on the courthouse door. Via Order for Custody/Visitation Granted to Individual(s) filed August 19, 2010, Appellees were granted custody of S.C. Appellees subsequently moved to Ohio.

         {¶4} On May 6, 2013, Appellant filed a motion to modify parental rights and responsibilities in the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division. On June 27, 2013, Appellees filed a consent to jurisdiction and multiple-branch motion, in which they moved the trial court to dismiss Appellant's motion, or, in the alternative, deny Appellant's motion. Appellees also requested Appellant only be allowed supervised visitation, sought child support and reimbursement of medical expenses, and asked for any other relief the trial court deemed appropriate. The trial court appointed Attorney Jessica Mongold as guardian ad litem for S.C.

         {¶5} The trial court conducted a settlement conference on December 19, 2013. The parties agreed, and the trial court ordered, Appellant and S.C. engage in Skype sessions at the discretion and direction of the guardian ad litem, and Appellees immediately enroll S.C. in counseling. December 19, 2013 Memorandum Entry and December 30, 2013 Agreed Temporary Order.

         {¶6} A settlement/guardian ad litem conference was held on July 30, 2014, at which time the parties agreed Appellees would enroll S.C. in public school for the 2014-2015 school year; Appellant would be entitled to attend all school-related activities and parent-teacher conferences and be entitled to school records related to S.C; Appellant would have supervised visitation with S.C. on alternating Saturdays; and the parties would continue joint therapy and S.C. would continue counseling. July 30, 2014 Memorandum Entry and August 11, 2014 Agreed Interim Order. The trial court conducted a number of additional settlement conferences throughout the proceedings which resulted in additional agreed orders regarding counseling and visitation.

         {¶7} On June 26, 2015, Appellees filed a pro se motion to vacate settlement, motion to dismiss the case, and motion to dismiss the guardian ad litem. On July 15, 2015, the guardian ad litem filed a memorandum regarding temporary orders and other requests set for non-oral hearing. Therein, the guardian recommended a phase-in schedule for unsupervised visitation between Appellant and S.C.

         {¶8} On July 15, 2015, Appellees filed a pro se supplemental affidavit in support of their June 26, 2015 motion. Appellees filed an Affidavit and Official Written Complaint against the guardian ad litem on August 3, 2015. The guardian subsequently filed a motion to withdraw and requested the appointment of a new guardian. The trial court granted the guardian's motion to withdraw via Entry filed August 17, 2015. Appellant filed a motion to convert one day bench trial ...


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