FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. DR-2008-01-0086
CAROLYN SOEDER, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
ROE FOX, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
CHANDRA M. MUSTER, Guardian ad Litem.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
J. CARR JUDGE.
Appellant Timothy Bohannon ("Father") appeals the
judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic
Relations Division, that denied his three contempt motions
against appellee Lynn Bohannon ("Mother"), and
overruled his objections to a Child Support Enforcement
Agency ("CSEA") administrative review
recommendation. This Court reverses and remands.
Father and Mother were divorced in 2010, at which time they
had three unemancipated children. Mother was named the
residential parent, and Father received a combination of both
supervised and unsupervised parenting time with the children.
In addition, Father was ordered to pay child support. After
various post-decree issues arose, Father and Mother entered
into an agreed judgment entry on April 24, 2014, wherein
Father was to receive parenting time with the two remaining
unemancipated children for one-half of the summers and school
breaks, Wednesday overnight visitation with the youngest
child, K., and telephone contact with both children twice a
Over the course of time, CSEA recommended increases in the
amount of Father's child support obligation after
conducting administrative review hearings. Father filed
objections with the domestic relations court after every
administrative review recommendation. The most recent
objection, which gives rise to one of his assignments of
error in the instant appeal, was filed on November 22, 2016.
By that time, only K. remained unemancipated and the subject
of a child support order. That objection requested a downward
deviation of child support based on an adjustment for
Father's cost of living.
In addition, Father filed three post-decree motions for
Mother to show cause why she should not be held in contempt
for violating parenting time orders. In the first, filed June
16, 2016, Father alleged that Mother prevented him from
exercising parenting time with K. for the one-half of the
summer to which he was entitled. In the second, filed October
6, 2016, he alleged that Mother interfered with his ability
to have telephone contact with K., as well as Wednesday and
every other weekend visits with the child. In the third
motion to show cause, filed March 2, 2017, Father alleged
that Mother continued to deny him his ordered parenting time.
Although the trial court issued multiple notices for hearings
on the motions and objections to occur on October 12, 2016,
December 15, 2016, February 10, 2017, and May 9, 2017, the
matters were not actually heard until the May 2017 date. In
all instances, the notices of hearings noted the starting
time for the hearing, but did not identify the length of time
allotted for the hearing. The May 9, 2017 hearing was
scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Both parties filed witness and
exhibit lists in advance of the hearing. Father notified the
court and Mother that he intended to present 18 exhibits and
four witnesses, while Mother notified the court and Father
that she intended to present nine exhibits and six witnesses.
In addition, the domestic relations court had appointed a
guardian ad litem for K. Based on the guardian's time log
filed with the court, she spent over 14 hours investigating
issues relevant to the pending motions, one hour in court
during the May 9, 2017 hearing, and approximately six hours
preparing a report.
At the beginning of the hearing on Father's objections to
the CSEA administrative recommendation and three contempt
motions, the magistrate informed the parties that they would
have a total of one hour in which to present evidence. The
magistrate gave each party ten minutes to address the issue
of the CSEA recommendation and Father's request for a
downward deviation of his child support obligation, and
twenty minutes each to address all three contempt motions.
When Father indicated that he would need more time, the
magistrate reiterated that she had scheduled the hearing for
one hour and that neither party had moved the court for
additional time in advance.
The magistrate set a timer on her computer and held the
parties to their allotted times. Only Father and Mother
testified. None of the listed witnesses on either party's
witness list testified. Neither did the guardian ad litem,
whose time log indicated she was present for the hearing,
render a report.
The magistrate subsequently issued a one-and-a-half page
decision in which she denied Father's three contempt
motions "for lack of evidence" and overruled his
objections to the CSEA administrative review recommendation.
Father filed timely objections, which he supplemented after
the filing of the transcript. In addition to challenging the
magistrate's factual findings, Father argued that the
magistrate unreasonably limited his ability to present
evidence in support of his motions and objections by imposing
arbitrary time restrictions without prior notice at the
hearing. Mother responded in opposition. The domestic
relations court issued a judgment in which it denied
Father's objections to the magistrate's decision,
denied his three contempt motions, and overruled ...