Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
K.H., ET AL. RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Domestic Relations Division Case No. DR-16-363671
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Leeann M. Massucci Colleen L.
Marshall Massucci Law Group, L.L.C.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Leslie Johns The Martinez Firm.
BEFORE: Kilbane, P.J., Stewart, J., and Celebrezze, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN KILBANE, P.J.
Petitioner-appellant, S.D. ("Mother 2"), appeals
from the decision of the domestic relations court, denying
her petition to register a foreign parentage order. For the
reasons set forth below, we affirm.
The underlying facts of this appeal present us with a
situation where mother-respondent-appellee, K.H.
("Mother 1"), and M.T. ("Father"), the
biological parents of the minor child, A.T. (d.o.b.
2/17/2006), divorced in November 2007. The terms of the
divorce decree provided Mother 1 with full and legal custody
of A.T. and Father with visitation rights. The decree also
provided that Mother 1 could relocate without notice to
Shortly after the divorce, Mother 1 and Mother 2 began a
relationship. In September 2008, Mother 1, Mother 2, and A.T.
moved to California. The three of them lived together as a
family with Mother 1 and Mother 2 sharing parenting
responsibilities. Mother 2 was the "stay-at-home
parent." Mother 1 and Mother 2 ended their relationship
in May 2010, at which point in time the women continued to
share parenting responsibilities and split their parenting
time 50/50 until July 2013, when Mother 1 ceased A.T.'s
contact with Mother 2.
In response, Mother 2 sought to legally formalize her
parental role in A.T.'s life by filing with the Superior
Court of California, County of Santa Clara ("California
Court") a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship.
In October 2013, the California Court entered temporary
orders giving Mother 2 custody and visitation rights. At a
hearing in January 2014, Mother 1 withdrew her objection to
Mother 2 being recognized as a parent, and the court issued a
parentage order that was stipulated to by both Mother 1 and
Mother 2. This parentage order found Mother 2 to be a parent
of A.T. Thereafter, the two women shared joint physical
custody of A.T., and Mother 2 continued her parenting
In 2016, Mother 1 filed a request for orders in the
California Court, seeking permission to move back to Ohio
with A.T. Prior to the California Court's ruling on the
motion, Mother 1 returned to Ohio with A.T. in April 2016. In
the interim, Father filed a motion with the California Court
requesting to set aside the 2014 parentage order. A hearing
was held on the matter in June 2016. At this hearing, the
California Court indicated that it would contact the Domestic
Relations Division of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
("Ohio Court") to determine whether the Ohio Court
wished to relinquish jurisdiction over issues related to
A.T.'s custody and visitation to the California Court.
On June 30, 2016, the Ohio Court communicated its findings in
the matter with the California Court through a letter and a
copy of its judgment entry. In the letter, the Ohio Court
advised that it has exclusive and continuing jurisdiction
over any custody and parenting determinations with respect to
A.T. The Ohio Court also noted that R.C. 3109.051(B)(1) does
permit it to grant reasonable companionship or visitation
rights to a third party where the court determines that such
companionship or visitation is in the best interest of the
child. The Ohio Court advised that should Mother 2 "wish
to pursue visitation rights pursuant to the Ohio Revised
Code, she would need to file a motion to intervene in the
matter before our Court and file the appropriate motion to
In the judgment entry, the Ohio Court found that it has
"exclusive continuing jurisdiction over any custody and
parenting determinations with respect to [A.T. under] the
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
('UCCJEA'), when it issued a parenting order on
November 8, 2007, as part of a decree of divorce between
[Mother 1 and Father]." The court reasoned that under
both Ohio and California law, when at least one of the
parents still resides in the state that made the original
custody determination, that state has exclusive, continuing
jurisdiction to modify its own order. The court stated that
this is the law in both Ohio and California. The court went
on to state that "at no time did [the Ohio Court]
decline to exercise its exclusive continuing jurisdiction
over the parties and [A.T.], or consent to the California
[C]ourt assuming jurisdiction over the issue of parenting
[A.T.]." The Ohio Court concluded that "the orders
issued by the [California Court] involving [A.T.] are void as
a matter of law." The Ohio Court further found that
"the custody and visitation orders issued by this Court
on November 8, 2007 and June 14, 2016, were the only valid
parenting orders with respect to [A.T.]."
Thereafter, on July 19, 2016, the California Court issued the
following findings: (1) the jurisdictional provisions of the
UCCJEA do not apply to a parentage determination; (2) the
jurisdictional provisions of the UCCJEA do apply to custody
and visitation orders, and Ohio retained continuing and
exclusive jurisdiction over all issues related to A.T.'s
custody and visitation; and (3) Father had proper notice of
the proceedings. In light of these findings, the California