IN RE: A.J. A.J.
FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. DN 14-07-0441 DN 14-07-0442.
D. WALLACE, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN R. DIMARTINO,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
ELIZABETH ABBOTT, Guardian ad Litem.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
A. SCHAFER, Presiding Judge.
Appellant, D.J. ("Father"), appeals from a judgment
of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, that placed two of his minor children in the legal
custody of their paternal grandparents
("Grandparents"). This Court affirms.
Father is the biological father of two children with the
initials A.J.: a girl, born June 7, 2013; and a boy, born
April 11, 2014. Although Father has other children, they are
not parties to this appeal. The mother of A.J. and A.J.
("Mother") did not participate in the final
dispositional hearing and did not appeal from the trial
Before this case began, Summit County Children Services Board
("CSB") had a voluntary case with this family
because Mother had attempted suicide and CSB was also
concerned about domestic violence and substance abuse in the
home. Because Mother did not comply with the requirements of
the voluntary case plan, CSB filed this involuntary case on
July 10, 2014. A.J. and A.J. were later adjudicated dependent
children and placed in the legal custody of CSB.
When this involuntary case began, Mother was living with
Father, but had moved in and out of his home several times
during their on and off relationship. Father and Mother's
relationship had been plagued by ongoing domestic violence,
often with Mother as the perpetrator. Even under a
court-ordered case plan, Mother refused to engage in any
services to address her serious mental health and substance
abuse problems. Although the case plan did not require Father
to end his relationship with Mother, it did require that they
engage in counseling to address the violence in their
relationship. Although Father complied with many of the
requirements of the case plan, he did not engage in
counseling with Mother and/or end his relationship with her.
Mother did not maintain contact with CSB or the trial court
and continued to struggle with mental health and substance
abuse problems. Moreover, incidents of domestic violence
continued between the parents throughout this case, including
during the months that the final dispositional hearing was
Because Mother was not complying with the case plan, she was
required to visit the children at the visitation center.
Father was permitted to visit the children at the home of
their relative caregiver. The children lived with an aunt
during most of this case, but they were later placed in the
home of Grandparents. CSB eventually moved to have the
children placed in the legal custody of Grandparents and
Father alternatively moved for legal custody of the children.
Following a four-day hearing that was held over several
months, the magistrate decided that A.J. and A.J. should be
placed in the legal custody of Grandparents. The trial court
adopted the magistrate's decision the same day, pending
the filing of timely, written objections. Father objected to
the magistrate's decision, arguing only that the best
interest finding was not supported by the evidence. The trial
court overruled Father's objection and placed A.J. and
A.J. in the legal custody of Grandparents. Father appeals and
raises two assignments of error.