SEAN P. REESE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
KAITLYN JO WHITSETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
from Logan County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division Trial
Court No. 14-AD-85
Douglas B. Dougherty for Appellant.
Jeffrey A. Merklin for Appellee.
Defendant-appellant, Kaitlyn Jo Whitsett nka Overmyer
("Kaitlyn"), appeals the October 19, 2016 judgment
of the Logan County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division,
naming plaintiff-appellee, Sean P. Reese ("Sean"),
the residential parent and legal custodian of the
parties' minor child. On appeal, Kaitlyn argues that the
trial court improperly considered certain factors relating to
her lifestyle in making its determination that it is in their
child's best interest to designate Sean the residential
On November 5, 2014, Sean filed a Complaint to Allocate
Parental Rights and Responsibilities of the parties'
child, H.R., who was born in 2013. Sean requested that the
trial court designate him as the residential parent and legal
custodian, or in the alternative, order a shared parenting
plan be put into place. Sean also filed a motion for a
temporary orders requesting that the trial court award him
temporary custody of the child, or in the alternative, order
shared parenting. Sean further sought the trial court to
incorporate a temporary order "precluding [Kaitlyn] from
taking the minor child out of the State of Ohio without a
Court Order or Father's consent. Father has reason to
believe Mother may be dating a person who lives in Ft. Wayne,
Indiana." (Doc. No. 2). Kaitlyn filed an answer and
counterclaim requesting that the trial court name her the
"sole custodial and residential parent" of the
parties' child and also requested temporary orders
consistent with her counterclaim.
The matter was set for a hearing on temporary orders for
February 9, 2015.
On January 21, 2015, Sean filed a Motion for Emergency Order
of Temporary Custody requesting the trial court grant him
immediate temporary custody of the parties' child. The
motion stated that the "reason for this request is that
Father has been told by Mother that she plans on permanently
removing the child from the State of Ohio to Ashley, Indiana,
presumably to live with her boyfriend as identified in his
Motion for Temporary Orders, that she has obtained new
employment in Indiana, and that if Father wanted to see his
son he would have to drive to Van Wert, Ohio for pick
up/delivery of the child. The effective date given to Father
is January 26, 2015." (Doc. No. 20).
Kaitlyn filed a memorandum in opposition to Sean's Motion
for Emergency Order of Temporary Custody claiming that she
had been the primary caretaker of the child since his birth
and that she was the sole provider for the child. She
explained that she had obtained a better paying job in
Indiana using her bachelor's degree which would give her
and the parties' child more financial security. She
further explained that she planned to give Sean visitation
consistent with the local court rule. Therefore, Kaitlyn
asked the trial court to deny Sean's Motion for Emergency
Order of Temporary Custody.
On January 29, 2015, the trial court's magistrate
conducted a hearing on Sean's Motion for Emergency Order
of Temporary Custody. Both parties were present with counsel.
The magistrate heard testimony from Sean and his parents and
Kaitlyn and her mother. The magistrate made the following
factual determinations from the evidence presented at the
The parties are the parents of one minor child, namely
[H.R.], born [September 2013]. Father filed the motion
because Mother advised that she was planning to move to
Ashley, Indiana with the parties' child. Mother in fact
moved on January 23, 2015. She lives with her fiancé,
whom she met approximately six months ago. Her fiancé
has a daughter who is 3½ years old; he is the
child's primary custodian. Mother moved to Ashley due to
new employment in the area. She had been employed with the
Logan County Sheriff's Office, but wanted to put her
bachelor's degree in psychology to use. She had sought
employment in central Ohio, without success. She secured a
position as a transitional care coach in Indiana; Mother will
be making approximately $3.00 more per hour in this job.
Father has had consistent, though limited, involvement in the
child's life. Long work hours have, at times, limited
Plaintiff's opportunities to be with the child.
Currently, Father works a first shift, 40 hour per week job.
Mother claims that Father has anger management issues.
Travel time between the parents' current residences is
approximately two hours.
(Doc. No. 27).
The magistrate issued temporary orders on February 25, 2015,
designating Kaitlyn the residential parent and legal
custodian of the parties' child and affording Sean
visitation as the parties agree, or in the event an agreement
could not be reached, three of every four weekends from
Friday 6:00 p.m. to Sunday 6:00 p.m. Custody exchanges were
ordered to take place in Van Wert, Ohio, at a mutually
agreeable location. Sean was ordered to pay child support.
On March 6, 2015, less than two weeks after the temporary
orders were issued, Kaitlyn filed a motion to modify the
temporary orders requesting the trial court to modify
Sean's parenting time to every other weekend from Friday
6:00 p.m. to Monday 6:00 p.m. Kaitlyn claimed that the
frequent travel required by the parenting time schedule in
the court's temporary orders placed a "substantial
amount of stress on the child." (Doc. No. 28). Sean
filed a response "strenuously" opposing
Kaitlyn's motion claiming that the proposed modification
would deprive him of the opportunity to develop a strong
father-son relationship with H.R.
On March 17, 2015, the magistrate issued an order overruling
Kaitlyn's motion to modify Sean's parenting time
stating that "the undersigned ordered that Plaintiff
receive three out of four weekends with the parties'
minor child in an attempt to approximate the amount of time
he had spent with the child prior to Defendant's move.
The undersigned believes that such a schedule is necessary to