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In re A.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

December 13, 2017

IN RE: A.S. I.S. J.S. A.S.

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. DN 16-02-0107, DN 16-02-0108, DN 16-02-0109, DN 16-02-0110

          JACLYN PALUMBO, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and RICHARD S. KASAY, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JULIE A. SCHAFER JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant-Father appeals the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that terminated his parental rights to his minor children A.S., IS., J.S., and Am.S., and placed the children in the permanent custody of Summit County Children Services Board ("CSB"). This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} Father is the established biological father of A.S. (d.o.b. 5/30/09), IS. (d.o.b. 10/27/12), J.S. (d.o.b. 10/31/13), and Am.S. (d.o.b. 1/27/16). The biological mother of all four children abandoned the children and is not a party to this appeal. Mother and Father have never been married but have apparently cohabited as domestic partners. There is a history of domestic violence between the parents, and Father was on probation for third degree felony domestic violence against Mother during the proceedings. He was also subject to a temporary protection order and prohibited from having any contact with Mother.

         {¶3} The family has had prior involvement with CSB. A.S. was twice before removed from her parents' care. She was adjudicated dependent in 2009, and dependent and neglected in 2010. In both prior cases, the child was reunified with her parents. CSB again became involved with the family in late 2015, after receiving an intake report after the police investigated another domestic violence incident between Mother and Father. When the police arrived, they found evidence of drugs in the home. Father was arrested for violating the temporary protection order issued in favor of Mother.

         {¶4} CSB began to work informally with the family and instituted a voluntary case plan to provide for the safety, stability, and security of the children. When neither parent was able to demonstrate the ability to provide the necessary care to maintain the children in a safe, stable, and secure environment, the agency filed complaints alleging all four children to be dependent. After an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile court found the children to be dependent and placed them in the temporary custody of CSB. The juvenile court adopted the agency's case plan as the order of the court. At first, Mother attempted to comply with case plan objectives, but she quickly ceased any involvement in the case. According to the magistrate's findings at periodic review hearings, Father's case plan compliance was sporadic.

         {¶5} Nine months after the initiation of these cases, CSB filed a motion for permanent custody. The agency alleged that the first prong of the permanent custody test was satisfied because (1) Mother abandoned the children pursuant to R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(b); and (2) A.S. was adjudicated an abused, neglected, or dependent child on three separate occasions; and IS., J.S., and Am.S. were removed from the custody of parents where another child of the parents (A.S.) had previously been adjudicated abused, neglected, or dependent on three separate occasions pursuant to R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(e). The agency further alleged that permanent custody was in the best interest of the children. Almost six months later, Father filed a competing motion for legal custody, or alternatively, for a six-month extension of temporary custody.

         {¶6} The children had been out of the parents' care for almost 18 months, when the juvenile court held the final dispositional hearing. The trial court granted CSB's motion for permanent custody and terminated Mother's and Father's parental rights. Father filed a timely appeal in which he raises one assignment of error for review.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION TO GRANT CSB'S MOTION FOR PERMANENT CUSTODY WHILE DENYING FATHER'S MOTION FOR A SIX-MONTH EXTENSION IS NOT SUPPORTED BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE AND IS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

         {¶7} Father argues that the juvenile court's award of permanent custody to CSB, in lieu of a six-month extension of temporary custody, was against the ...


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