FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. DN 16-02-118
SWEENEY, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
KERNAN, Attorney at Law, for CASA Guardian ad Litem.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
Appellant Father appeals the judgment of the Summit County
Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that terminated his
parental rights to his minor child L.H., and placed the child
in the permanent custody of Summit County Children Services
Board ("CSB"). This Court affirms.
Mother gave birth to twins on February 2, 2016. Father is the
biological father of one of the twins, L.H. (d.o.b.
2/2/16). He was excluded by genetic testing as the
father of the other twin. Paternity was not established as to
the other child, and that child is not a subject of this
Ten days after the child's birth, CSB filed a complaint
alleging that she was a dependent child pursuant to R.C.
2151.04(C) and (D), in that her condition or environment
warranted the state in assuming her guardianship; or that
siblings in her household had previously been adjudicated
dependent, neglected, or abused, and those circumstances
placed the child in danger of abuse or neglect by a parent or
household member. The agency obtained an emergency order of
temporary custody the same day.
Before L.H.'s paternity was established, Mother
identified an alleged father. On May 6, 2016, that man was
excluded by genetic testing. CSB immediately thereafter moved
to add Father as a party and for an order directing him to
submit to genetic testing. In the meantime, the matter
proceeded to adjudication as to Mother and John Doe. The
child was adjudicated dependent and placed in the temporary
custody of CSB. The juvenile court adopted the proposed case
plan submitted by the agency. The subsequent amended case
plan directed Father to cooperate with CSB and CSEA to
establish his identity as the father, to clarify his
intentions to assume a parenting role, to contact the agency
if he wanted visitation, and to cooperate in a home study.
The next semiannual administrative review noted that Father
contacted the agency on May 17, 2016, expressing his interest
in establishing paternity and obtaining custody.
At the review hearing in mid-July 2016, genetic test results
had not yet been obtained. On August 15, 2016, the agency
filed genetic test results indicating that Father was the
biological father of L.H. After CSB moved to establish a
parent-child relationship, the juvenile court ordered that
Father was the biological father of L.H. Two months later,
the guardian ad litem noted in her report prior to a review
hearing that she had not met Father, because he failed to
appear for a scheduled visit with the child on September 14,
On October 12, 2016, CSB filed an amended case plan, adding
additional case plan objectives for Father. The agency noted
concerns that Father had been arrested at the end of July
2016, on serious charges including trafficking in heroin,
possession of heroin, and having weapons while under
disability. Father's latest case plan objectives included
establishing visitation with the child, resolving his
outstanding criminal matters, remaining drug free, submitting
to an alcohol/drug assessment and counseling, and
demonstrating an ability to maintain housing and employment
to provide for the basic needs of the child. The juvenile
court adopted the amended case plan as the order of the
court. More than two months later, the agency noted
Father's insufficient progress on his case plan
objectives in a semiannual administrative review.
Specifically, CSB noted that Father had not resolved his
pending criminal charges, and he had not made himself
available to meet with the child and establish a bond.
Specifically, he had failed to appear for a scheduled
visitation in early September 2016; and, although he had
appeared for two visits in late September and October 2016,
he had had no contact with the agency since that time.
Accordingly, CSB had been unable to assess Father's
parenting abilities or his ability to support the child.
On December 21, 2016, CSB filed a motion for permanent
custody. The matter was not scheduled for permanent custody
hearing until May 23, 2017. The agency alleged that the child
could not be placed with either parent within a reasonable
time or should not be placed with her parents pursuant to
R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(a). Specifically as to Father, CSB
alleged that Father had demonstrated a lack of commitment
toward the child or otherwise showed an unwillingness to
provide an adequate home for the child pursuant to R.C.
In the meantime, the guardian ad litem submitted two reports.
In her first report, she noted that she had still never met
Father. In her later report, she again wrote that she had
never met Father, because he had not been attending
visitations or contacting the agency to establish a
convenient visitation schedule. In ...