Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. JS2016-0286
O'Connor, Mikita & Davidson LLC, Michael J.
O'Connor, for appellant.
Patricia A. Baas, for appellee.
1} Appellant, a mother ("Mother"), appeals
from the decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Division, granting legal custody of her son, R.L.P.,
to appellee, the child's father ("Father"). For
the reasons outlined below, we affirm.
2} R.L.P. was born on September 13, 2012. Mother and
Father were never married. Following R.L.P.'s birth,
Mother and Father agreed to a parenting time schedule and for
Father to pay Mother child support.
3} The following facts are taken from text a message
conversation between Mother and Father that was authenticated
by Father and admitted into evidence by the juvenile court.
The text messages, including all spelling, spacing, grammar,
and punctuation, appear as written by the parties. All other
facts are taken from Father's testimony before the
4} On the morning of April 22, 2016, the day Mother
was supposed to drop R.L.P. off with Father, Mother sent
Father a text message informing Father she was
"sorry" for not telling him sooner, but she was
taking R.L.P. to Florida on vacation to visit her mother for
two weeks. In response, Father exhibited frustration with
Mother's late notice, wherein he specifically stated
"you should have told me!" Once in Florida, Mother
was involved in a car accident that totaled her car and
prevented her from returning home to Ohio as planned. At the
time she left for Florida, it is undisputed that Mother's
then address was 3685 Dixie Highway, Hamilton, Butler County,
Ohio. It is also undisputed that although Father knew Mother
was somewhere in Winter Haven, Florida, Father did not know
the specific address where Mother was staying.
5} On April 27, 2016, Father texted Mother and asked
if he could fly to Florida to pick up R.L.P. and return him
to Ohio, which would then allow Mother to find an alternative
way home. To this, Mother responded by stating, "[n]o
thanks, we'll figure something else out."
Thereafter, on May 1, 2016, in response to Father's
inquiry as to whether Mother was able to find a new car so
that she and R.L.P. could return home to Ohio, Mother
informed Father that "[p]lans to come home obviously
suspended until we have reliable transportation." The
following text exchange then occurred:
[Father]: Would not take more then a day to find something up
here, why want to meet him at airport and fly back with him.
You can bus back or what ever. You took this trip with no
back up plan, that's very dangerous.
[Mother]: We aren't in any danger. Accidents happen.
We're having a fun vacation. No need to worry. I
didn't have a back up plan at home either, a new car is
the back up plan. Stop badgering me.
6} Approximately one week later, on May 5, 2016,
Father filed a complaint for shared parenting or
alternatively for parenting time. Father also filed a child
custody affidavit that listed Mother's last known address
as 3685 Dixie Highway, Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. Later
that day, Father texted Mother and offered to buy her and R.
L.P. plane tickets to fly from Florida back home to Ohio. The
record does not contain any response from Mother.
7} After another week passed, on May 11, 2016,
Mother texted Father claiming she had bought a car "but
it needs work." The next day, May 12, 2016, Father
texted Mother asking if she had any idea when R.L.P. would be
back home in Ohio. Mother responded by texting
"[i]t's going to cost LOTS to fix the [car], trying
to come up with a plan now." Father then texted Mother
asking "[w]ill money get him back here!?, " to
which Mother responded "I'm working on it."
8} Prior to this exchange, on May 10, 2016, a notice
of the hearing scheduled on Father's complaint for shared
parenting was sent to Mother's last known address at 3685
Dixie Highway, Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio, by both regular
and certified mail. The certified mailing was returned as
undeliverable on May 26, 2016, whereas the ordinary mailing
was returned as ...