Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Relations Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
GRANDJEAN, Atty. Reg. No. 0024841, Attorney for
PATRICIA CAMPBELL, Atty. Reg. No. 0068662, Attorney for
1} Alesia Johnson-Rome appeals from the trial
court's final judgment and divorce decree that, among
other things, terminated the parties' marriage, divided
their assets and liabilities, and allocated parental rights
regarding their minor child.
2} Johnson-Rome advances two assignments of error.
First, she contends the trial court erred in adopting a final
judgment and divorce decree that materially differed from a
prior in-court agreement. Second, she claims the trial court
erred in journalizing the decree, which had been drafted by
opposing counsel, without first verifying each party's
compliance with a pertinent local rule.
3} The record reflects that Johnson-Rome filed a
divorce complaint against appellee Wendell Rome in November
2014. The matter proceeded to a June 24, 2016 final hearing
before the trial court. At the outset of the hearing, the
parties stated that they had reached an agreement resolving
all disputed issues. The trial court addressed those issues
with the parties, and the agreement was read into the record.
After obtaining assurances that the parties understood the
agreement and that they were entering into it voluntarily,
the trial court directed Rome's counsel to draft a
divorce decree that incorporated the agreement's terms.
Thereafter, Rome's counsel submitted the requested
proposed final judgment and divorce decree to the trial
court. The decree was signed by Rome and his attorney. The
signature lines for Johnson-Rome and her counsel contained
the handwritten words, "Seen but not signed." The
trial court journalized the final judgment and divorce decree
on June 30, 2016. This appeal followed.
4} We turn first to Johnson-Rome's second
assignment of error. She contends the trial court violated
Mont. D.R. Rule 4.23(B), which sets forth a procedure where,
as here, a trial court directs one party's counsel to
prepare a final judgment and divorce decree. The rule
(B) Contested matters. When the advance
preparation of a final judgment and decree is not possible
because of contested issues, the court may direct either
party or counsel to prepare the decree following the final
(1) Unless otherwise directed by the court, counsel for
plaintiff shall present a proposed decree to the court and
opposing party or counsel within ten (10) days after the
(2) Opposing party or counsel shall have three (3) days to
approve or reject the proposed decree. In the event the
proposed decree is rejected, the opposing party or counsel
shall notify immediately in writing his or her objections.
(3) Failure of opposing party or counsel to approve or reject
any proposed decree will permit the party who prepared the
decree to present it for journalization. In such instances
the proposed decree shall be submitted in accordance with
(4) Failure to timely submit a decree in accordance with this
rule may result in the issuance of a citation of contempt to
counsel in the case.
(5) All decrees submitted to the court shall comply with the
provisions of section ...