Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Fayette
FROM FAYETTE COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. AND20150016
C. Weade, Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney, Sean M.
Abbott, Fayette County Courthouse, 110 East Court Street,
Washington C.H., Ohio 43160, for appellee
S. Terhune-Olaker, P.O. Box 895, Washington C.H., Ohio 43160,
guardian ad litem Kathryn Hapner, 172 North High Street,
Hillsboro, Ohio 45133, attorney for child Melissa S.
Upthegrove, 254 East Court Street, Washington C.H., Ohio
43160, for appellant
1} D.G., the mother ("Mother") of V.G.,
appeals a decision of the Fayette County Court of Commons
Pleas, Juvenile Division, granting permanent custody of V.G.
to appellee, Fayette County Department of Job and Family
Services ("FCDJFS"). For the reasons set forth
below, we affirm the decision of the juvenile court.
2} On March 3, 2015, FCDJFS filed a complaint
alleging neglect and dependency, and requesting emergency
temporary custody. The complaint alleged that on January 20,
2015, juvenile probation officers responded to a report
Mother locked V.G. and V.G.'s two siblings in a bedroom.
The complaint further alleged officers visited Mother's
residence and knocked on the front door, but no one answered.
The children informed the officers through an open window
that they were locked in a bedroom. Mother and Mother's
then-boyfriend, a known drug user, both admitted to locking
the children in the bedroom and that the children would knock
when they needed something. The bedroom where the children
were located did not have any identifiable beds. The officers
noticed toilet paper in the room and learned the children had
been urinating and defecating out of the bedroom window. The
officers arrested Mother, and on February 13, 2015, the
Fayette County Grand Jury indicted her on three counts of
3} On March 4, the juvenile court granted FCD
JFS's ex parte motion for temporary custody. The
following month, Mother admitted dependency and the juvenile
court dismissed the neglect allegation. On May 5, 2015, the
juvenile court adjudicated the children dependent related to
the father, who was not involved with this case or the
present appeal. The juvenile court subsequently held a
dispositional hearing and granted temporary custody on May
28, 2015. FCDJFS filed a motion for permanent custody on
September 14, 2016, which FCDJFS later withdrew to allow
Mother an additional opportunity to work towards completing
her case plan objectives. On April 7, 2017, FCDJFS filed a
second motion for permanent custody. Again, FCDJFS filed a
motion to withdraw the second permanent custody motion. The
juvenile court held a hearing on the second motion for
permanent custody and motion to withdraw on August 29, 2017.
The hearing revealed the following facts.
4} The caseworker testified regarding the initial
concerns leading to V.G.'s removal discussed above with
respect to the complaint. Mother's original case plan had
a goal of reunification and required Mother to complete
parenting classes, a mental health assessment and any
recommended treatment therefrom, sign all releases, submit to
random drug screenings, and obtain suitable housing and
employment. Mother completed most of these case plan
requirements. On July 11, 2016, FCDJFS returned V.G. to
Mother's care. However, on August 17, 2016, FCDJFS
removed V.G. a second time because Mother permitted a known
drug user to be present in the residence with V.G. and the
other children. FCDJFS filed its first motion for permanent
custody alleging V.G. inappropriately touched other children
and Mother had failed to transport V.G. to medical and
counseling appointments. FCDJFS withdrew this motion to allow
Mother additional time to work a new case plan. The new case
plan contained similar requirements as the first case plan.
5} In January 2017, while Mother worked her new case
plan, FCDJFS placed V.G.'s sibling with Mother. However,
after one and one-half days, FCDJFS removed the child from
Mother's care because she permitted two known drug users
to be present in the residence around the child. Shortly
thereafter, Mother attempted suicide by ingesting a bottle of
Zoloft prescription medication and a bottle of Tylenol PM.
Following Mother's attempted suicide, placement with
Mother was no longer an option because Mother resided with
the maternal grandmother, who has a history with FCDJFS
regarding a pending sex abuse case from 1998.
6} The caseworker testified V.G. is bonded with
Mother, Mother parents appropriately during visitation, and
that she believed Mother could properly parent V.G. with
"support." Mother completed most of her second case
plan, but at the time of the permanent custody hearing had
not obtained suitable housing and employment. Mother is
unemployed and receives Social Security income. The guardian
ad litem ("GAL") submitted a written report and
recommendation to the juvenile court, recommending permanent
custody to FCDJFS.
7} On October 11, 2017, the juvenile court granted
permanent custody of V.G. to FCDJFS. Mother timely appealed
from this decision.
8} Assignment of Error No. 1:
9} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY TERMINATING
APPELLANT'S PARENTAL RIGHTS, AS THAT JUDGMENT WAS AGAINST
THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND WAS UNSUPPORTED BY
CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE AS THE APPELLANT HAD
SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED WITH THE CASE PLAN.
10} Mother asserts the juvenile court erred by
granting permanent custody of V.G. to FCDJFS because its
decision was not supported by clear and convincing evidence
and against the manifest weight of the evidence. Mother
contends several best interest factors weighed in favor of
denying FCDJFS's motion. Specifically, V.G. wished to
return to Mother's care, ...