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In re J.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

May 30, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF: J.S.

         Appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, Case No. 2014JCV01238

          For Plaintiff-Appellee BRANDON J. WALTENBAUGH Stark County JFS

          For Defendant-Appellant CHRISTOPHER COLERIDGE

          JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

          OPINION

          Hoffman, P.J.

         {¶1} Appellant Autumn Sirlouis ("Mother) appeals the February 10, 2017 Judgment Entry entered by the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, which terminated her parental rights, privileges, and responsibilities with respect to her minor child, and granted permanent custody of the child to Appellee Stark County Department of Job and Family Services ("SCDJFS").

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶2} Mother is the biological mother of the child. The father of the child is Spencer Price, II ("Father")[1]. On December 8, 2014, SCJFS filed a complaint alleging the child was neglected and dependent. The complaint was filed after Mother was arrested and charged with domestic violence following an altercation with Father while the child was present. The child was placed into emergency temporary custody by law enforcement officers. Mother refused to cooperate with the officer to arrange for the child's care. SCJFS had been working with the family on a non-court basis since September, 2014, following Mother's arrest for assaulting a family member's girlfriend. Law enforcement officers executed a Juv. R. 6 emergency custody order as a result of the incident. Because Mother made arrangements for the child's care, the Juv. R. 6 order was allowed to expire. In addition, Mother had a criminal history which includes convictions for assault in both Summit and Stark Counties.

         {¶3} Following an emergency shelter care hearing on December 9, 2014, the trial court awarded emergency temporary custody of the child to SCJFS. The trial court conducted an adjudicatory hearing on January 7, 2015, found the child to be dependent, and placed her in the temporary custody of SCJFS. The trial court conducted a review on June 4, 2015, at which time it approved and adopted the case plan and maintained the status quo. The trial court conducted a review hearing on November 6, 2015, and again approved and adopted the case plan and maintained the status quo. The trial court extended temporary custody for an additional six months on January 7, 2016, and again on June 2, 2016.

         {¶4} On September 16, 2016, Mother filed a Motion to Return and Terminate or, in the Alternative Change Legal Custody to Greg Sirlouis, Mother's estranged husband. Sirlouis married Mother in 2009, when the child was an infant. Sirlouis acted as the child's father until he and Mother separated. Sirlouis has custody of his and Mother's 4 year old daughter, the child's half sibling.

         {¶5} SCJFS filed a motion for permanent custody on October 21, 2016. On December 29, 2016, Attorney Dean Grase, the guardian ad litem, submitted his report recommending the child be placed in the permanent custody of SCJFS. Attorney Grase noted the child was bonded with her half-sister, Mother, the foster mother, and the foster sister. Although the child indicated she would be extremely sad to lose the relationship with her half-sister, the child "was not hesitant" in expressing her wish to stay with the foster family. The guardian believed the foster family was committed to maintaining the child's relationship with her half-sister.

         {¶6} The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion on January 12, 201, and February 3, 2017. Mother filed a motion requesting an attorney be appointed to represent the child on January 19, 2017. The trial court denied the motion.

         {¶7} The following evidence was presented at the hearing.

         {¶8} Michelle Singleton, the SCJFS caseworker assigned to the case, testified SCJFS has been involved with the family since September, 2014. SCJFS originally attempted to work with the family on a non-court basis, however, Mother failed to cooperate, which lead to the filing of the complaint for dependency and neglect on December 8, 2014. Singleton explained SCJFS had concerns about domestic violence between Mother and Father, Mother's criminal history, and Mother's ongoing substance abuse. Singleton noted the child was adjudicated dependent on January 8, 2015, and had been in the temporary custody of SCJFS since that day, a period of at least twelve out of twenty-two consecutive months.

         {¶9} Singleton stated Mother's case plan required her to complete a parenting evaluation at Northeast Ohio Behavioral Health, complete a Quest evaluation, and follow all recommendations. Mother completed the parenting and Quest evaluations. The recommendations resulting from the evaluations included substance abuse ...


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