Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
ERIC J. EGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
BRIANA BUCHNOWSKI, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, Case No. 2016 CV 00944.
W. Shryock, John Shryock Co., (For Plaintiff-Appellee).
G. Stafford and Nicole A. Cruz, Stafford Law Co., L.P.A.,
CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.
Appellant, Briana Buchnowski ("mother), appeals the
judgment of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, adopting the magistrate's decision approving
appellee's, Eric Egan's ("father's"),
proposed shared parenting plan. At issue is whether the trial
court abused its discretion in adopting the magistrate's
decision. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
On June 15, 2016, father filed a complaint requesting custody
of or visitation with the minor child, L.B., then eight
months old. On August 31, 2016, a pre-trial was held, at
which father was granted interim parenting time with L.B. and
was ordered to pay interim child support. On November 1,
2016, father filed a motion for shared parenting with an
attached shared-parenting plan. On February 6, 2017, the case
proceeded to trial before the magistrate on father's
complaint and plan.
Since mother failed to timely file the hearing transcript in
the trial court, the statement of facts that follows is
limited to the magistrate's findings of fact.
Father and mother were never married. Father testified he is
the biological father of the child; mother acknowledged
father's paternity; and the magistrate found a
parent-child relationship exists. The parents met while they
were attending Kent State University, and mother gave birth
to the child in October 2015.
L.B. has lived in Willoughby since November 2015. He lived
with both parents from November 2015 until March 2016, when
they ended their relationship. L.B. has primarily lived with
mother in Willoughby since that time.
Mother is originally from Buffalo, New York. The child was
born there and spent the first few weeks of his life there.
Mother testified her plan was to move back to Buffalo. She
wants to return there "to have [her] family
Father has had consistent contact with the child since his
birth. He takes the child to his medical appointments and
otherwise attends to his needs.
L.B. is bonded with both his maternal and paternal families.
Mother earns $41, 000/year and father earns $39, 500/year.
Mother pays for the child's health insurance through her
employer. The parties share the costs of the child's
daycare, which is about $400/month.
Despite disagreements between the parents, the magistrate
found they are able to work with one another. Each parent
communicates and works with the other in the child's best
The magistrate also engaged in an exhaustive analysis of the
pertinent best-interest factors in R.C. 3109.04(F)(1) and the
additional factors in R.C. 3109.04(F)(2) when shared
parenting is involved.
Based on these findings, the magistrate found that
father's proposed shared parenting plan was in the
child's best interests and should be adopted with two
modifications: First, in the original plan, both parties were
designated the child's residential parent for school
purposes, while under the modified plan, mother was to be
designated the sole residential parent for school purposes.
Second, the provision in father's original plan that any
decision to enroll or change schools would be made only if
the parties mutually agree was to be removed; thus, mother
can enroll or change the child's school on her own.
The magistrate issued his decision on March 6, 2017. On March
17, 2017, mother filed objections to the magistrate's
decision along with (1) a motion for extension of time to
file supplemental objections and (2) a motion for extension
of time to obtain the transcript. The trial court granted
mother's motions, allowing her to file the transcript
"no later than April 17, 2017" and her supplemental
objections "no later than May 1, 2017." Mother
failed to file a transcript or any supplemental objections.
On April 27, 2017, the trial court entered judgment
overruling mother's objections (noting that mother was
given until April 17, 2017 to file the transcript, but that
she had failed to file the transcript or any further
extension to file the transcript) and adopting the
magistrate's decision in its entirety. In its entry, the
trial court adopted father's shared parenting plan, which
was filed on November 1, 2016, with the two foregoing
modifications. After the court-ordered deadline for filing
the transcript and after the court entered final judgment,
mother filed the transcript of the magistrate's hearing.
Mother appeals the trial court's judgment, asserting four
assignments of error. For her first, she alleges:
"The trial court erred as a matter of law and abused its
discretion in failing to consider all relevant factors under
While mother contends the magistrate (and thus the trial
court) did not consider the statutory factors in R.C.
3109.04(F) in ruling on father's shared parenting plan,
mother failed to raise this issue in her objections.
Juv.R. 40(D)(3)(ii) provides that "[a]n objection to a
magistrate's decision shall be specific and state with
particularity all grounds for the objection." Further,
Juv.R. 40(D)(b)(iv), regarding waiver, provides that
"a party shall not assign as error on appeal the
court's adoption of any factual finding or legal
conclusion * * * unless the party has objected to that
finding or conclusion * * *." (Emphasis added.) By
failing to object to the magistrate's decision on the
ground that the magistrate did not consider the statutory
factors, mother waived the right to assert this issue for the
first time on appeal. In any event, even if we were to review
the issue for plain error, no such error occurred because the
magistrate (and the trial court) considered the statutory
This court, in Brandt v. Brandt, 11th Dist. Geauga
No. 2012-G-3064, 2012- Ohio-5932, set forth the standard of
review in custody cases ...