Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Noble
Prob Appeal from the Probate Court of Noble County, Ohio Case
Plaintiff-Appellee: Atty. Ryan Regel
Defendant-Appellant: Gabriel Bocek, pro se
JUDGES: Hon. Carol Ann Robb Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary
Defendant-Appellant Gabriel Bocek appeals the decision of
Noble County Probate Court granting Plaintiff-Appellee
Kimberly Baker's Applications for Change of Name of a
Minor. Appellant, pro se, raises two discernable issues. The
first is whether he was properly served with the Applications
for Change of Name of a Minor and notice of the hearing on
those Applications. The second is whether the probate court
abused its discretion when it granted the applications.
For the reasons expressed below, the trial court's
decision is vacated. Appellant was not properly served with
the Applications and notice of the hearing on those
Applications. Accordingly, the trial court did not obtain
personal jurisdiction over Appellant. This determination
renders Appellant's second argument moot.
of the Case
On May 9, 2016 Appellee filed an Application for Change of
Name of Minor pursuant to R.C. 2717.01 for each of the three
children fathered by Appellant. Appellee sought to have the
last name of all three children changed from Appellant's
surname, Bocek, to her maiden name, Gregg. She also sought to
have the youngest child's middle name become his first
name and his middle name become Christian. The reasons
Appellee asked for the name changes were she and her family
would like the Gregg name to be carried on; she has a brother
who has two daughters and will not be having any more
children. She also stated she is the one raising the boys and
Appellant does not consistently exercise visitation.
Therefore, it would make for a more cohesive home unit. Also,
Appellant has a criminal record; he allegedly recorded
Appellee's daughter from a previous relationship getting
undressed in the bathroom. Thus, she contends having their
father's last name and the youngest child having his
father's first name causes embarrassment and will impact
their future negatively.
A hearing on the applications was set for June 20, 2016. In
the applications, Appellee stated Appellant was the alleged
father and listed his address as 129 Timber Meadows Driver, O
Fallon, Missouri. This is undisputedly the address for
Appellant's parents, where he sometimes stays. Appellant
was sent a notice of hearing for the name change by certified
mail to that address. The Notice of Hearing was also
published in The Journal-Leader for a one week period.
The certified mail was returned unsigned. The envelope
stated, "RETURN TO SENDER UNCLAIMED UNABLE TO
FORWARD." 6/8/16 Certified Mail Envelope.
The hearing was held on June 20, 2016. Appellant did not
attend the hearing. Appellee told the court the Missouri
address, Appellant's parent's address, is the only
address she has to contact Appellant. Tr. 4-5. Appellee told
the court why she wanted the names changed; she wanted to
carry on the Gregg name, she was never married to Appellant,
she is the one who is raising the children, and Appellant has
nothing to do with the children. Tr. 2. She further explained
Appellant only saw them twice the previous year - once at
Christmas time for a week and one 24 hour period in May. Tr.
3. She also stated Appellant does pay child support, but he
is not always current. Tr. 4.
The probate court granted the applications. 6/20/16 J.E.
Appellant appealed the decision; his appeal was deemed timely
because there was no notation on the docket he was ...