Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
IN RE N.J.V. A Minor Child Appeal by L.R.H., Mother
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Juvenile Division Case No. PR 15714282
C. Kuenzi Co., L.P.A., and Hans C. Kuenzi, for appellant.
R. Waller; Kurt Law Office, L.L.C., and Pamela D. Kurt, for
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
T. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE.
1} Defendant-appellant, L.R.H. ("Mother")
appeals a juvenile court order allocating parental rights and
responsibilities between herself and R.V.
("Father"). She claims the following four errors:
1.The trial court erred in awarding the parties shared
parenting and designating Father as residential parent for
school enrollment purposes.
2. The trial court erred in adopting as its order a shared
parenting plan filed by Father on June 13, 2018 without
making findings of fact and conclusions of law as to its
reasons for the approval of the plan.
3. The trial court erred in adopting as its order a shared
parenting plan filed by Father which was contrary to the best
interest of the minor child.
4. In its adoption of a shared parenting plan filed by
Father, the trial court erred in omitting from its order page
10 of its standard parenting time schedule to which reference
was made in said plan.
2} We find no merit to the appeal and affirm the
trial court's judgment. However, we remand the case to
the trial court for a nunc pro tunc journal entry to correct
a clerical error.
Facts and Procedural History
3} Mother and Father are the parents of N.J.V., a
minor child, who was born on September 10, 2012. The parties
had a brief relationship and separated approximately one
month after N.J.V. was born. They shared parenting without
court intervention until N.J.V. was three years old, when
Mother informed Father that she was thinking of moving to
Columbus, Ohio. Consequently, in October 2015, Father filed a
complaint seeking a court order allocating parental rights
and responsibilities. Father later filed a motion for shared
parenting and submitted a proposed shared parenting plan on
June 24, 2016. The matter proceeded to trial on June 19,
2017, and January 24, 2018.
4} Father testified that he maintained a
relationship with N. J.V. after the parties separated and saw
him almost daily. The parties arranged Father's
visitation time around their respective work schedules.
Because Father completed his workday by midafternoon and
Mother worked in the evenings, Father regularly cared for
N.J.V. in the evenings until Mother moved to Columbus in
March 2016. Father, however, did not have overnight visits
with N.J.V. until he was approximately one year
5} Mother testified that she moved to Columbus for
better employment opportunities. Mother is now married to
T.K., and had a daughter, B.K., who was born in January 2017.
T.K. has an eight-year-old son from a prior relationship, who
stays with Mother and T.K. every Wednesday and every other
weekend. Since B.K.'s birth, Mother stayed home with the
children and began pursuing a degree in social work from Ohio
University in January 2018.
6} At the time of trial, Father was engaged to J.L.,
who had a six-year-old daughter from a prior relationship.
Father testified that N.J.V. is comfortable in their home and
gets along well with J.L.'s daughter, J.R.L. (Tr. 10-11.)
7} Father initially filed an emergency motion for
custody when Mother informed him she was moving to Columbus.
He later withdrew the motions because the parties reached an
agreement that afforded Father parenting time in Cleveland
every Thursday and every other weekend. The parties
nevertheless had several disagreements regarding N.J.V.'s
care and education, and Father felt that Mother attempted to
prevent Father from parenting N. J.V.
8} N.J.V. developed a tic, which Father wanted
evaluated by a neurologist. Mother dismissed his concern,
stating that the child's pediatrician told her it was a
temporary reaction to a virus. N.J.V. was also underweight,
and Father was concerned about his eating habits. Father
testified that Mother denied there was a weight problem and
delayed treatment. (Tr. 150.) Mother eventually agreed that
N.J.V. needs special attention to ensure he eats enough food,
but the parties disagreed on the types of food he should be
9} Father testified that Mother tried to exclude him
from N.J.V.'s doctor's appointments. And Father, who
was concerned for N.J.V.'s welfare, sometimes consulted
with physicians and questioned Mother's actions. For
example, when Father questioned Mother about the fact that
she seemed to be neglecting N.J.V.'s severe allergies,
she replied that she was unable to make a doctor's
appointment. (Tr. 126.) Father scheduled an appointment with
a doctor in Cleveland, but Mother cancelled it. Father
testified that when he confronted Mother about the
cancellation, she claimed that "[a]ll of a sudden she
was able to get him in right away * * *." (Tr. 71-72.)
10} N.J.V. also had dental decay on a front tooth
that required a procedure. Mother initially scheduled the
procedure in Columbus during Father's parenting time.
(Tr. 62-63, 117.) Father agreed to stay in a hotel in
Columbus in order to take N.J.V. to the appointment. (Tr.
62-63.) Mother, however, rescheduled the appointment to an
earlier date that fell within her parenting time. The
guardian ad litem ("GAL") testified that Mother
initially scheduled the procedure in Columbus during
Father's time in order to interfere with Father's
parenting time and subsequently rescheduled it after Father
indicated he would come to Columbus to take N.J.V. to the
appointment. (Tr. 118-120.)
11} Father also attempted to exclude Mother from at
least one medical intervention. Father took N.J.V. to a
pediatrician in Cleveland where he was tested for strep
throat. The rapid test indicated a negative result but the
doctor's office called the following Wednesday to inform
Father that the throat culture was positive. Rather than have
the doctor call the prescription into a pharmacy near
Mother's house, Father waited until the next day when he
had custody of N.J.V. to fill the prescription and start
administering it. Father admitted at trial that he should
have told Mother of the diagnosis and started the antibiotics
24 hours earlier. (Tr. 47-49.)
12} The GAL testified that "it's Mom's
intention in some aspects of [NJ.V.'s] life to cut Dad
out." (Tr. 112.) The GAL explained: "I believe that
Mom wants Dad to have some parenting time with [N.J.V.];
however, I believe that she does not want Dad to make any
decisions regarding N.J.V." (Tr. 146.) Mother admitted
to the GAL that she did not want Father to take N.J.V. to any
doctor's appointments. (Tr. 146.)
13} The GAL further testified she believes Mother
intentionally removed N.J.V. from the court's
jurisdiction when she moved to Columbus. Shortly after the
complaint was filed, the case was set for a pretrial on March
10, 2016. Mother requested a continuance, claiming she needed
additional time to retain counsel. She then moved to Columbus
on March 18, 2016, and did not file a motion to relocate with
the court. The GAL explained to Mother that when she moved to
Columbus after Father filed his complaint, she removed the
child from the jurisdiction. According to the GAL, Mother
responded: "I know. That's why I did it." (GAL
report at 4.) Mother denied any memory of this conversation.
14} The GAL testified that both parents love N.J.V.
and are capable of properly caring for him. However, she
recommended that Father be designated the residential parent
for school purposes because "Father is the one most
likely to abide by Court orders * * * and is most likely to
not exclude Mom from the child's life." (Tr. 93.)
The GAL further opined that "Mother is resistant to
shared parenting." (Tr. 95.)
15} Following trial, the parties submitted written
closing arguments and proposed findings of fact and
conclusions of law. Father also filed an updated shared
parenting plan dated June 13, 2018. Mother, who was
requesting sole custody, did not submit a shared parenting
plan. The trial court issued a judgment awarding shared
parenting based on Father's proposed plan, which
designated him the residential parent for school purposes.
This appeal followed.
Law and Analysis
Manifest Weight of the Evidence
16} In the first assignment of error, Mother argues
the trial court's judgment ordering shared parenting and
designating Father the residential parent for school