Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
LA SHANDA E. BAKER Plaintiff-Appellant
PORTIEA BAKER Defendant-Appellee
Court Case No. 2007-DR-370 (Domestic Relations Appeal)
CHARLES W. SLICER, III, Atty. Attorney for
A. FISHER, Atty. Attorney for Defendant-Appellee
1} Plaintiff-appellant La Shanda Baker appeals from
an order of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas,
Domestic Relations Division, which reallocated custody of her
minor children to her ex-husband Portiea Baker. Ms. Baker
contends that the custody modification is not supported by
the record. She further contends that the trial court lacked
subject matter jurisdiction over the matter.
2} We conclude that the trial court did have subject
matter jurisdiction over this action and that the record
supports the modification of custody. Accordingly, the
judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Facts and Procedural History
3} La Shanda and Portiea Baker were married in 1991.
They have two minor children as a result of their
marriage. Ms. Baker filed a complaint for divorce in
March 2007. Mr. Baker filed an answer and counterclaim in
which he sought paternity testing of the youngest child.
Subsequent DNA testing confirmed that he is the father. A
decree of divorce was filed by the Montgomery County Court of
Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, in January 2008.
Ms. Baker was designated as sole legal custodian and
residential parent of both children. Mr. Baker was ordered to
pay child support in the amount of $270 per month.
4} In February 2012, Ms. Baker, along with the
children, moved to Texas for purposes of employment. In July
2012, the Montgomery County Department of Job & Family
Services filed a motion seeking to hold Mr. Baker in
contempt, alleging that he was over $14, 000 in arrears with
regard to child support. Mr. Baker obtained counsel in
October 2012. A finding of contempt was issued, and an agreed
order was entered permitting Mr. Baker to purge the contempt
by tendering immediate payment of $1, 000 and by remaining
current on the support and arrearage payments.
5} In January 2013, Mr. Baker filed a motion to hold
Ms. Baker in contempt, alleging that she had moved to Texas
without informing him of the move. The motion was voluntarily
dismissed in March 2013. In July 2013, he again filed a
motion seeking to hold Ms. Baker in contempt. At the same
time, he filed a motion seeking modification of custody and
alleging that he had not seen his children since they moved
to Texas. Mr. Baker voluntarily dismissed both motions in
6} In November 2016, Mr. Baker again filed a motion
for a modification of custody and to hold Ms. Baker in
contempt. A hearing was conducted on August 1, 2017. Ms.
Baker appeared pro se. At the end of the hearing, the
magistrate interviewed both of the children in
7} The magistrate issued a decision in which it was
noted that, as of June 30, 2017, Mr. Baker's child
support arrearage was $15, 465.79. The magistrate further
found the following:
Defendant's concerns are plaintiff's unannounced and
unilateral removal of the children to Texas. This has
impacted defendant's contact and companionship with the
children. It was uncontroverted that plaintiff neither
contacted the Court nor defendant in writing about her
relocation to Texas. It was disputed whether plaintiff
"told" the defendant. Defendant was credible in his
testimony of no notice.
Defendant did not see the children as a result of the
relocation. Defendant was able to see the children in the
summer of 2017 because of the pre-hearing order. Defendant
had parenting time in 2016. Defendant has provided his son
with a cell phone in order to maintain communication.
Plaintiff confirmed several incidents wherein defendant's
access to the children was restricted by her. Defendant
arranged airline travel for the children around Christmas and
plaintiff would not allow the children to go because school
had not yet recessed. Another incident involved defendant
driving to Texas and not being able to take the children out
of school for the visit. In both situations there was no
testimony that the children had tests or other reason [sic]
for not missing some school. Another incident involved the
children coming [to Ohio] for a funeral. Defendant could not
have the children as they were with "other" family.
Defendant's other concerns [sic] involve his son missing
football participation because plaintiff did not obtain a
physical. And defendant had concerns that when he sent his
son a requested bicycle, no one in Texas would help him put
it together or pump up the tires. Defendant sent his son
tools and an air pump to accomplish this. Both of these
incidents were confirmed by plaintiff but not adequately
The children were interviewed as to their wishes and
concerns. Both articulated that they wanted to stay with
The report of the Family Relations Department Investigator
confirms the difficulties in defendant having contact with
the children due to the relocation. The report confirmed the
children's inability to communicate with defendant. The
parties are not able to communicate with each other but it
appears that defendant has, at least, tried to improve
communication with the children via the cell phone.
The Family Relations Department report also confirms that the
children wish to live with the ...