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In re A.E.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

June 18, 2018

IN RE: A.E. A.H. R.H.

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE Nos. 16JC4769116JC47692 16JC47693

          DENISE E. FERGUSON, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and EMILY W. KIRSCH, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          JEANETTE ROBINSON, Guardian ad Litem.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          DONNA J. CARR, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant, D.W. ("Mother"), appeals from a judgment of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that placed her three minor children in the legal custody of relatives. This Court affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands the matter for clarification about Mother's visitation with one of the children.

         I.

         {¶2} Mother is the biological mother of A.E., born September 28, 2010; A.H, born September 25, 2012; and R.H., born September 12, 2013. At the time Lorain County Children Services ("LCCS") became involved with this family, the children were living with Mother. The agency received a referral because, during a visit between all three children and the father of A.H. and R.H. ("Father H."), a family member observed bruises and raised welts on the buttocks of A.E. A further investigation by LCCS revealed that Mother had used excessive physical discipline on the children on multiple occasions.

         {¶3} Mother would also later admit that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager and had been involuntarily hospitalized for psychiatric treatment on several occasions because she did not consistently engage in mental health treatment. LCCS was also concerned that Mother had not been meeting the children's basic needs.

         {¶4} On January 29, 2016, LCCS filed complaints alleging that A.E. was an abused child and that all three children were neglected and dependent. The children were later adjudicated accordingly and placed in the temporary custody of LCCS. Later, A.E. was placed in the temporary custody of her paternal grandmother ("Grandmother") and A.H. and R.H. were placed in the temporary custody of Father H., with all three children under the protective supervision of LCCS.

         {¶5} The case plan goals for Mother focused on her addressing her mental health problems and her ability to appropriately meet her children's daily needs. Among other things, Mother was required to attend parenting classes and obtain both psychological and psychiatric assessments and follow any treatment recommendations. Mother attended parenting classes but did not demonstrate that she could implement the skills that she had been taught. Moreover, she never obtained a psychological or psychiatric assessment. She did engage in some counseling but continued to exhibit inappropriate behavior around her children and others.

         {¶6} Ultimately, Mother moved to have the children returned to her legal custody. Because the children were doing well in the homes of their respective relative caregivers, LCCS alternatively moved to have A.E. placed in the legal custody of Grandmother and to have A.H. and R.H. placed in the legal custody of Father H. A dispositional hearing was held before a magistrate.

         {¶7} On August 7, 2017, the magistrate filed a decision that A.E. be placed in the legal custody of Grandmother and that A.H. and R.H. be placed in the legal custody of Father H. The trial court adopted the decision and independently entered judgment the same day.

         {¶8} On August 29, 2017, Mother's trial counsel filed objections to the magistrate's decision. LCCS later moved to dismiss Mother's objections because they were untimely. See Juv.R. 40(D)(3)(b)(i). The trial court ...


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