Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Geauga
ANDREW W. HAUPT, Plaintiff-Appellee,
HEATHER A. HAUPT, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 11 DC
E. Zulandt, Jr., Zulandt & Smalheer, For
Margaret M. Metzinger, Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantine &
Garofoli Co., For Defendant-Appellant.
R. WRIGHT, J.
Appellant, Heather A. Haupt, appeals the trial court's
judgment overruling objections to the magistrate's
decision and adopting the magistrate's custody
recommendation. In addition to evidentiary challenges, she
contests the conclusion that the shared parenting plan is no
longer in the child's best interest due to parental
cooperation issues. We affirm.
Appellant and appellee, Andrew W. Haupt, were married for
approximately two years and had one child, Holly, born
December 22, 2010. Within one year of birth, Holly was
diagnosed with eczema, a recurring condition causing skin
irritability including reddening, dryness, and itching. Her
condition requires regular application of various salves or
creams to reduce discomfort and to moisturize, primarily
after a bath or shower. Holly is also allergic to
amoxicillin. Over the first five years of her life, Holly
experienced other physical ailments.
Shortly after Holly's birth, the parties ceased living
together, and appellee filed for divorce. Ultimately, the
parties' separation agreement and shared parenting plan
were incorporated into the final divorce decree. The shared
parenting plan provides appellant with custody of the child
at least 75 percent of the time and has specific provisions
governing the child's care.
Even before the final decree was issued, child care disputes
developed. Appellant questioned the manner in which appellee
addressed Holly's hygiene and various ailments, including
the eczema, while she was with him. Appellant questioned the
character and parenting ability of various relatives or
friends providing childcare.
As to the hygiene and health disputes, appellant alleged that
when appellee returned Holly to her after he had custody for
more than two days, her eczema would often be worse or she
would be suffering from another illness. Medical records
established that, during the first five years of Holly's
life, appellant had taken her to a doctor's office or
emergency room approximately 60 times. Thirty visits occurred
immediately after appellee had custody. Based upon this,
appellant asserted that much of her parenting time was spent
helping Holly recover from her health problems.
A major dispute centered upon Holly bathing versus showering.
Appellee's residence only has shower facilities. He deems
this sufficient. In contrast, appellant believes Holly's
skin condition requires bathing as opposed to showering.
Medical records indicate that some of Holly's doctors
think that a shower is generally sufficient except when her
eczema is at its worst.
In light of appellant's belief that Holly's health
suffers when she is with appellee, she demanded that he
provide a list of items in his home and other homes he visits
with Holly, such as furniture and chemicals, so that she
could determine if Holly is allergic. Appellee did not
As to the child care disputes, appellant deems appellee's
relatives and friends as unqualified to provide care.
Appellant objects to appellee's sister-in-law, Terri, as
a childcare provider citing obesity, mental illness,
alcoholism, and because another child had once fallen into a
sewer hole while on Terri's property. Appellee supported
the "alcohol" allegation, with claims that Terri
kept alcohol in her home and served it when children were
Given appellant's suspicions about appellee's
relatives, if she knew that her child would be seeing those
relatives on a particular day, she would call the
sheriff's department and ask that a "welfare
check" be performed. One of these incidents occurred
when appellant knew that Terri and her family would be
visiting appellee's home on Easter. During the welfare
checks, the deputies never found Holly in danger.
The parties also had ongoing disputes concerning
appellee's shared parenting time. On multiple occasions,
appellee would cancel his visitation claiming that he had to
work. When he would attempt to reschedule the lost time,
appellant would refuse to do so absent verification from his
employer that he was actually working. In addition, at times
appellant would unilaterally cancel appellee's parenting
time. On more than one occasion, she refused to deliver the
child for a weekend visit on the grounds that it was too cold
outside. Additionally, rather than scheduling Holly's
summer vacation time with her all at once, she would schedule
it two or three days at a time, such that the days would
directly conflict with appellee's regular visitation
In light of the constant conflict, the parties filed multiple
post-decree child custody motions. In 2013, each party moved
for termination or modification of the shared parenting plan.
Furthermore, in April 2014, appellee filed a contempt motion
against appellant, claiming that she was wrongfully depriving
him of his time with Holly. Ultimately, the trial court
referred the motions to a magistrate who appointed a new
guardian ad litem ("GAL") to advance Holly's
The initial evidentiary hearing on the pending motions was
postponed so that appellant could obtain new counsel.
Ultimately, the hearing went forward. After testimony of one
witness was heard, the parties settled the majority of the
custody disputes, but not summer parenting time. The
settlement was memorialized and appellee dismissed his
A subsequent hearing was scheduled to address summer
parenting time. However, before evidence was taken,
appellant's counsel orally moved to withdraw from the
case due to conflict between her and appellant. The
magistrate granted the motion to withdraw to reset the
hearing, and gave appellant three weeks to obtain new
Before the next evidentiary hearing took place, each party
filed additional motions. Acting pro se, appellant requested
that appellee be held in contempt for violating the terms of
their most recent settlement. She further requested that
appellee's parenting time be limited to 48 hours per
visit. In his new motion, appellee again asked that the
shared parenting plan be terminated and that he be named sole
At the ongoing hearing, appellant stated that she intended to
represent herself. She also moved for dismissal of
appellee's supplemental motion for custody, claiming it
was not served upon her at her current address. In response,
appellee's counsel conceded the motion was mailed to the
wrong address, but that appellant was now fully aware of the
motion and its substance. In denying the motion to dismiss,
the magistrate held that the lack of proper service did not
justify dismissal and instead, offered appellant a
continuance if she was not prepared to go forward. She
declined the continuance, and the hearing proceeded that day
and multiple days thereafter.
The GAL participated in all of the hearings and filed four
reports. In her first three reports, the GAL recommended that
the parties continue to follow the shared parenting plan with
some modifications. In her last report, however, the GAL
deemed the shared parenting no longer feasible because
appellant could not communicate with appellee and make joint
decisions concerning Holly's welfare. The GAL, ...