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In re H.J.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula

January 22, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF: H.J., NEGLECTED CHILD

         Civil Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 2016 JC 00084.

          Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County Courthouse, and Margaret A. Draper, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County Children Services Board, (For Appellee, Ashtabula County Children Services Board).

          Judith M. Kowalksi, (For Appellant, Joshua Javis).

          Eileen Noon Miller, Law Offices of Eileen Noon Miller, LLC, (Guardian ad Litem).

          OPINION

          DIANE V. GRENDELL, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Joshua Javis, appeals the decision of the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, granting appellee, Ashtabula County Children Services Board's, motion for permanent custody. The issue before this court is whether a parent may be found to have abandoned his child when he has failed to visit or maintain contact with the child for over ninety days due to repeated hospitalizations for mental illness and/or incarcerations in the county jail. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the court below.

         {¶2} On April 5, 2016, when H.J. was six days old, the juvenile court granted Ashtabula County Children Services Board ex parte emergency temporary custody of the child.

         {¶3} On April 6, 2016, the Children Services Board filed a Verified Complaint for Temporary Custody on the grounds of neglect, specifically that her mother, Desiree Davis, "tested positive for marijuana at the [time of her] birth"; "all three of [H.J.'s] siblings are currently in the Temporary Custody of ACCSB"; and "Desiree is currently homeless and there are concerns of domestic violence between Desiree and Joshua Javis (alleged father)."

         {¶4} On the same day: "Mother stipulated to a finding of Probable Cause, and stipulated that paternity has not been established for the child and that the alleged father has not established any relationship with the child."

         {¶5} On May 2, 2016, H.J. was adjudicated a dependent child pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C).

         {¶6} On June 1, 2016, a dispositional hearing was held. The juvenile court ordered H.J. to continue in the temporary custody of the Children Services Board. It was noted that Javis had "failed to appear and had failed to submit to paternity testing."

         {¶7} On January 10, 2017, the Children Services Board filed a Motion Requesting Modification of Temporary Custody to Permanent Custody.

         {¶8} On April 18, 2017, the Guardian ad Litem Report was filed.

         {¶9} On August 8, 2017, the permanent custody hearing was held.

         {¶10} On August 17, 2017, the juvenile court granted the Children Services Board's Motion for Permanent Custody. The court made the following relevant findings:

At the time of the child's birth [March 31, 2016], Mother and Father had one other child, J., who was in the Temporary Custody of ACCSB. The child's two half-siblings were also in the Temporary Custody of the agency as of March 31, 2016.
Father was present at the child's birth. Although he had been arrested two days prior to her birth, Father had been released on bond prior to the delivery. Mother was homeless at that time, and no evidence was presented that Father had a stable residence for the child.
Mother, who had been required to address drug and alcohol concerns in the siblings' existing case, tested positive for marijuana when this child was born.
In addition to the drug and alcohol treatment and housing issues addressed in the siblings' case plan for Mother, Mother was also required to address her mental health needs and complete a parenting class. She had not done so by March 31, 2016.
Father was in and out of hospitals, and had been incarcerated multiple times during this case. Father's mental health issues included bipolar disorder ...

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