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In re C.C.-L.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

December 29, 2017

IN RE: C.C.-L.

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. DN 16-05-0399

          JAMES E. BRIGHTBILL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          MICHAEL J. WARKO, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

          MARY ELLEN LESLIE, Guardian ad Litem.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          CALLAHAN, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Mother appeals the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that granted legal custody of her child C.C.-L. to Father. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} Mother is the biological mother of C.C.-L. (d.o.b. 12/6/11) and R.C. (d.o.b. 3/17/16). Father is the biological father of C.C.-L., as well as two other children by his current wife. Mother and Father shared parenting of C.C.-L. pursuant to a domestic relations court order. Neither R.C, nor her biological father, is a party to this appeal.

         {¶3} Shortly after R.C. was born, she suffered symptoms of withdrawal due to Mother's drug use during pregnancy. The infant was administered morphine in the NICU to abate her symptoms. Based on these conditions, Summit County Children Services Board ("CSB") filed complaints, alleging R.C. to be an abused and dependent child, and C.C.-L. to be a dependent child. A few days later, the parties stipulated that CSB be granted an interim order of protective supervision of the children, while maintaining them in Mother's home.

         {¶4} At the adjudicatory hearing, the parties entered into negotiations and stipulated that both children were dependent. CSB dismissed the allegation of abuse regarding R.C. Father moved for temporary custody of C.C.-L. After the initial dispositional hearing, the juvenile court maintained C.C.-L. in Mother's legal custody under an order of protective supervision to CSB. The agency's case plan was adopted as the order of the court. The case plan included objectives for Mother and R.C.'s father, specifically that the two submit to a drug and alcohol assessment and follow all treatment recommendations. There were no case plan objectives for Father.

         {¶5} Two-and-a-half months later, Father again filed a motion for temporary custody of C.C.-L. The guardian ad litem recommended that the court place the child in Father's temporary custody. After a subsequent review hearing, the magistrate granted Father's motion and placed C.C.-L. in the temporary custody of Father. No order of protective supervision was issued as to C.C.-L.; although R.C. remained under the protective supervision of the agency, as that child remained in Mother's care. The magistrate further ordered that Mother would have supervised visitation with C.C.-L. twice a week for two hours each day. Mother did not file objections to the magistrate's decision.

         {¶6} Prior to the next review hearing, Father and Mother each filed a motion for legal custody of C.C.-L. The magistrate held a hearing on the parents' competing motions. At the hearing, CSB orally moved to terminate the order of protective supervision in effect for R.C, but otherwise did not seek to modify the current custodial dispositions of the children. At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate issued a decision granting Father's motion and awarding legal custody of C.C.-L. to him. The magistrate further ordered that Mother would continue to have supervised visitations with the child, but that she could petition the court for unsupervised visits once she had successfully completed a substance abuse assessment and all treatment recommendations.

         {¶7} Mother filed timely objections to the magistrate's decision. She argued that the magistrate did not consider two best interest factors, specifically (1) the child's interactions and interrelationships with Mother and R.C., and (2) the child's custodial history. In addition, Mother argued that the magistrate erred because the evidence demonstrated that she had remedied the conditions that led to the removal of C.C.-L. Although a transcript of the proceedings was later filed with the juvenile court, Mother did not supplement her objections with citations to the record. Father responded in opposition to Mother's objections, while CSB took no position and declined to file a brief.

         {¶8} The juvenile court overruled Mother's objections. It found that the evidence relating to the best interest factors in R.C. 2151.414(D)(1)(a-e) demonstrated that an award of legal custody to Father was in the best interest of C.C.-L. The juvenile court further ordered that Mother would continue to have supervised visits with the child, but that she could petition for unsupervised visitation after successfully completing a substance abuse assessment and following all treatment recommendations. Mother filed a timely appeal in which she raises ...


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