Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont
FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS PROBATE DIVISION
Case No. 2017 GI 1416
& Uhle, LLC, Richard B. Uhle, Jr., for appellee
J. Tekulve, for appellant
1} Appellant, Diandra Stevens, appeals a decision of
the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division,
appointing appellee, Scott Atkins, guardian of the
2} Diandra and Scott were married, and had two
children before divorcing in 2004. Both children are autistic
and require special care. Following the divorce, Diandra was
designated custodial parent of both children. However, five
years later, Scott was granted custody of the children and
each parent had approximately equal parenting time. Diandra
appealed the change of custody, and this court affirmed.
Atkins v. Stevens, 12th Dist. Clinton No.
3} When the parties' older child, David, turned
18, Diandra filed an application in the probate court to be
appointed his guardian. The parties agree that David requires
a guardian because he is unable to care for himself given his
degree of autism. However, Scott also applied to be appointed
his guardian. The matter was therefore litigated before a
magistrate. During the hearing, both parties submitted
medical records, expert evaluations, and testimony from lay
4} The magistrate issued a decision appointing Scott
guardian. Diandra then filed objections to the
magistrate's decision, which were overruled by the
probate court. Diandra now appeals the probate court's
decision, raising the following assignments of error, which
we will combine for discussion as the issues are
5} Assignment of Error No. 1:
6} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION
IN APPOINTING APPELLEE AS GUARDIAN.
7} Assignment of Error No. 2:
8} THE TRIAL COURT'S DETERMINATION THAT APPELLEE
WAS THE MORE SUITABLE PERSON TO BE GUARDIAN WAS AGAINST THE
MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.
9} Diandra argues in her assignments of error that
the probate court erred in appointing Scott as David's
guardian because the decision is against the manifest weight
of the evidence.
10} In matters relating to guardianship, the probate
court is required to act in the best interest of the ward.
In re Guardianship of Collins, 12th Dist. Warren No.
CA2013-08-072, 2014-Ohio-5750, ¶ 9. A probate court has
broad discretion in appointing guardians, and decisions
regarding the appointment of a guardian will not be reversed
on appeal absent an abuse of discretion. In re
Smith, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2013-09-165,
2014-Ohio-2119, ¶ 19. An abuse of discretion constitutes
more than an error of law or judgment; it requires a finding