FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
WAYNE, OHIO CASE No. 15-DR-B-0014
APPEARANCES: L. RAY JONES, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
HELMUTH, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
A. SCHAFER J.
Defendant-Appellant, Regina Drouhard ("Wife"),
appeals a decree of divorce entered by the Wayne County Court
of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division. For the reasons
set forth below, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and
The parties were married on October 30, 1987.
Plaintiff-Appellee, Franklin Drouhard ("Husband"),
filed a complaint for divorce against Wife in the Wayne
County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, on
January 16, 2015. The parties had separated and been living
apart since February of 2007. Wife answered and
counterclaimed for divorce. Wife also filed a motion for
temporary orders seeking spousal support.
On March 10, 2015, a magistrate held a hearing on Wife's
motion for temporary orders. After hearing argument from both
parties, the magistrate took the matter under advisement and
issued a decision that "denied and overruled"
Wife's request for temporary spousal support. In doing
so, the magistrate "put great weight on the fact the
parties have been separated for seven years and certainly
within those seven years, [Wife] could have asked for some
type of financial relief in the form of a divorce or a legal
separation if she needed to rely on [Husband] for financial
assistance." Wife filed timely objections to the
magistrate's decision, which Husband opposed. On April
23, 2015, the trial court summarily overruled Wife's
objections to the magistrate's decision.
On February 9, 2016, the magistrate held a final hearing on
Husband's complaint for divorce and on Wife's
counterclaim for divorce. Both parties were present and
represented by counsel at the final hearing. On May 16, 2016,
the magistrate issued a decision "find[ing] that the
parties admitted that they are incompatible and should be
granted a divorce on those grounds." Furthermore, for
purposes of dividing marital property, the magistrate
determined that the parties' were married "from
October 30, 1987 through February 1, 2007." The
magistrate selected February 1, 2007, as the de facto
termination of marriage date because that was when the
parties separated. Lastly, as relevant to this appeal, the
magistrate determined that, based on the factors enumerated
in R.C. 3105.18(C)(1), Husband shall pay spousal support to
Wife "in the amount of $150 per month for a third the
length of the marriage, which is 73 months, " for a
total of $10, 950.00. The trial court adopted the
magistrate's decision on May 17, 2016. Wife thereafter
filed timely objections to the magistrate's decision and
filed a transcript of the final hearing with the trial court.
On July 5, 2016, the trial court overruled Wife's
objections to the magistrate's decision. Wife then filed
a motion for reconsideration, which the trial court denied on
July 17, 2016.
Wife filed this timely appeal and presents two assignments of
error for our review.
of Error I
spousal support award of $150 per month, from June 1, 2016 to
July 1, 2022, plus the trial court refusing to grant an
initial temporary award or a final award of attorney fees and
costs to Mrs. Drouhard, is an abuse of discretion.
In her first assignment of error, Wife argues that the trial
court abused its discretion by denying her initial motion for
temporary spousal support, by ordering Husband to make
"minimal" monthly spousal support payments, and by
not awarding her attorney's fees and court costs.
Generally, absent an error of law, "the decision to
adopt, reject, or modify a magistrate's decision lies
within the discretion of the trial court and should not be
reversed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion."
Barlow v. Barlow, 9th Dist. Wayne No. 08CA0055,
2009-Ohio-3788, ¶ 5. "In so doing, we consider the
trial court's action with reference to the nature of the
underlying matter." Tabatabai v. Tabatabai, 9th
Dist. Medina No. 08CA0049-M, 2009-Ohio-3139, ¶ 18.
Temporary Spousal Support
Initially, we note that although Wife's first assignment
of error contends that the trial court erred by denying her
motion for temporary spousal support, the argument section of
her brief omits any discussion of temporary spousal support.
App.R. 16(A)(7) provides that an appellant's brief shall
include "[a]n argument containing the contentions of the
appellant with respect to each assignment of error presented
for review and the reasons in support of the contentions,
with citations to the authorities, statutes, and parts of the
record on which appellant relies." This Court has
consistently stated that "[i]f an argument exists that
can support [an] assignment of error, it is not this
court's duty to root it out." Cardone v.
Cardone, 9th Dist. Summit No. 18349, 1998 WL 224934, *8
(May 6, 1998), citing App.R. 12(A)(2) and App.R. 16(A)(7).
Accordingly, Wife's first assignment of error is
overruled to the extent that it concerns the trial
court's denial on her motion for temporary spousal
Wife next argues that the trial court should have ordered
Husband to pay her more spousal support, as the $150.00 per
month spousal support award is inequitable due to the
disparity in the parties' income. Specifically, Wife
notes that Husband makes more money and has a
"comfortable" standard of living, whereas she is
impoverished and "barely surviving on * * * $733 a
month, HEAP [assistance], and $189 a month in food
stamps." The trial court ordered Husband to pay Wife
$150.00 per month in spousal support for a total 73 months,
beginning on June 1, 2016, and concluding on July 1, 2022,
unless the aggregate sum was paid sooner.
"This Court reviews a spousal support award under an
abuse of discretion standard." Hirt v. Hirt,
9th Dist. Medina No. 03CA0110-M, 2004-Ohio-4318, ¶ 8. An
abuse of discretion implies that the trial court's
attitude was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable.
Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219
(1983). When applying the abuse of discretion standard, a
reviewing court may not simply substitute its own judgment
for that of the trial court. Pons v. Ohio State Med.
Bd, 66 Ohio St.3d 619, 621 (1993). Moreover, "[t]he
burden is on the party challenging the award to show that the
award is unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable in order
for this Court to overturn the award." Gregory v.
Gregory, 9th Dist. Wayne No. 98CA0046, 2000 WL 877823,
*4 (July 6, 2000).
R.C. 3105.18(B) provides that "[i]n divorce and legal
separation proceedings, * * * the court of common pleas may
award reasonable spousal support to either party."
"In determining whether spousal support is appropriate
and reasonable, " the court shall consider the 14
factors listed in R.C. ...