from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Family Court
Division, Case No. 2014JCV01238
Plaintiff-Appellee BRANDON J. WALTENBAUGH Stark County JFS
Defendant-Appellant CHRISTOPHER COLERIDGE
JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. John W. Wise, J.
Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.
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").
OF THE FACTS AND CASE
Mother is the biological mother of the child. The father of
the child is Spencer Price, II
("Father"). 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The following evidence was presented at the hearing.
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
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 ...