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Glatley v. Glatley

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

March 22, 2018

CHARLENE H. GLATLEY PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELL ANT
v.
MARK C. GLATLEY DEFENDANT-APPELLANT/ CROSS-APPELLEE

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations Division Case No. DR-11-339270

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Scott S. Rosenthal Brittany A. Graham Margaret E. Stanard Schoonover Rosenthal Thurman & Daray L.L.C.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Joseph G. Stafford Nicole A. Cruz Stafford Co., L.P.A.

          ATTORNEY FOR B.G. Richard J. Stahl 18051 Jefferson Park Road

          GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR THE CHILDREN Edward R. Jansen Lavelle & Lavelle Co., L.P.A.

          BEFORE: Laster Mays, J., E.A. Gallagher, A.J., and Stewart, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          ANITA LASTER MAYS, JUDGE

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellee/cross-appellant Charlene H. Glatley ("Charlene") and defendant-appellant/cross-appellee Mark Glatley ("Mark") are parties in three appeals emanating from post-decree domestic relations litigation determinations. The parties were married in 1993. Two minor children were born of the marriage.

         {¶2} The trial court judge granted the parties' petition for dissolution of marriage on January 23, 2012, incorporating and approving the November 7, 2011 separation agreement ("SA") and the November 7, 2011 shared parenting plan ("SP Plan") for the children. According to the record, the parties filed at least 28 post-decree motions for SP Plan violations, expenses, and attorney fees. The trial court appointed a Guardian ad Litem ("GAL") and attorney for the children.

         {¶3} In November 2014, a new trial judge was assigned to the case. Eleven of the motions were resolved in an agreed judgment entry on April 5, 2015, addressing most of the outstanding parenting issues. A trial was conducted by the magistrate on several of the remaining motions on May 20, 2015 through May 22, 2015, June 23, 2015, August 3, 2015, and September 2, 2015. Written closing arguments and recommendations were submitted by the parties on December 22, 2015, and December 23, 2015. The magistrate issued a decision on March 10, 2016.

         {¶4} Preliminary objections to the magistrate's decision were filed by Charlene on March 24, 2016, and by Mark on April 1, 2016. The parties supplemented their objections on April 22, 2016. The trial court issued an order for mediation screening on June 9, 2016. Mediation was unsuccessful.

         {¶5} On August 28, 2016, the trial judge adopted the magistrate's decision as modified by the trial court in response to the objections determined to have merit. Mark appeals and Charlene cross-appeals in the consolidated cases before this court.[1] Charlene appeals in the companion case. After a review of the record, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

          {¶6} In 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 104884, Mark challenges the trial court's findings on five of the motions:

May 5, 2014 Mark's motion to show cause and for attorney fees and litigation expenses;
June 2, 2014 Charlene's motion to show cause and for attorney fees and for court order filed;
June 20, 2014 Mark's motion for attorney fees and litigation expenses;
June 26, 2014 Mark's motion for attorney fees; and
April 29, 2015 Charlene's motion to show cause and motion for attorney fees.

         {¶7} In 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 104943, Charlene cross-appeals the trial court's rulings on motions filed by the parties, the GAL and the attorney for the eldest son, B.G., including:

May 5, 2014 Charlene's motion to show cause, for attorney fees and litigation expenses;
June 29, 2014 Charlene's motion for attorney fees and litigation expenses;
October 8, 2014 Mark's motion for attorney fees;
March 10, 2015 Attorney for child's motion for payment of assigned counsel and motion to escrow/release funds;
April 6, 2015 Guardian ad litem's motion for fees; and
April 29, 2015 Mark's motion to show cause and motion for attorney fees.

         {¶8} In 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105179, Charlene appeals the trial court's modification of child support to $2, 400 per month in response to her motion to modify child support and for attorney fees and litigation expenses. At a November 15, 2015 hearing, in lieu of live testimony and a full evidentiary hearing, the parties agreed that the issue would be considered based on the trial transcripts of the proceedings held on May 21, 2015, May 22, 2015, June 23, 2015, and August 3, 2015, and all submitted exhibits. Written final arguments were submitted on December 22, 2015, and December 23, 2015. Objections were filed on October 27, 2016, the trial court adopted the magistrate's decision, as modified.[2]

         {¶9} On February 1, 2018, this court issued a sua sponte order consolidating the three cases.

         II. General Standard of Review

         {¶10} Domestic relations courts have continuing jurisdiction to entertain post-decree motions. Our review of the trial court's decisions are subject to an abuse of discretion standard. Heary v. Heary, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92079, 2009-Ohio-2272, ¶ 9, citing Dowling v. Schaser, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 66005, 1995 Ohio App. LEXIS 224 (Jan. 26, 1995). "The term 'abuse of discretion' connotes more than an error of law or judgment; it implies that the court's attitude is unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable." Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219, 450 N.E.2d 1140 (1983).

         III. Discussion

         A. Introduction

         {¶11} Each of the assigned errors posed by the parties is grounded on the trial court's award, or failure to award, the proper amounts for expenses, fees, contempt sanctions, and costs. Entitlement to the funds in issue turns, for the most part, on the interpretation of the SA and SP Plan incorporated into the judgment of dissolution.

         {¶12} A trial court is empowered to interpret the terms of a separation agreement that is governed by the law of contracts. In doing so, "the trial court must presume that the ordinary meaning of the language used by the parties evinces the intent of the parties." Dowling, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 66005, 1995 Ohio App. LEXIS 224, at 6 (Jan. 26, 1995), citing Roller v. Roller, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 55988, 1989 Ohio App. LEXIS 5075 (Oct. 5, 1989).

         {¶13} A shared parenting plan is also subject to the rules of contract interpretation, with a focus on effecting the parties' intent as evidenced by the plain language of the agreement. Maddox v. Maddox,2016-Ohio-2908, 65 N.E.3d 88, ¶ 23 (1st Dist.), citing Ellsworth v. ...


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