IN THE MATTER OF: C. R. W., MINOR CHILD, B. A. R., Plaintiff-Appellant,
A. N. W nka A. N. G., Defendant-Appellee.
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, of
Jefferson County, Ohio Case No. 2007 PA 00083
Mary Corabi, Corabi Law Office, 424 Market Street,
Steubenville, Atty. Aaron Richardson, Blake, Bednar, Blake
& Richardson, for Plaintiff- Appellant and
Peter Olivito, for Defendant- Appellee.
BEFORE: David A. D'Apolito, Cheryl L. Waite, Carol Ann
OPINION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Appellant, B.A.R. appeals the judgment entry of the Jefferson
County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, overruling
his Motion for Reallocation of Parental Rights and
Responsibilities. For the following reasons, the judgment
entry of the trial court is reversed and this matter is
remanded for a detailed analysis of the best interests of the
child and, if applicable, an analysis of the potential
benefits/harm resulting from a change in custody.
On August 27, 2018, Appellee, A.N.W. nka A.N.G. filed a
handwritten notice in the Juvenile Court of Jefferson County,
Ohio, of her intent to marry R.G., a member of the United
States Air Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and to move the
parties' then eleven-year old daughter, C.R.W., to
Okinawa in late December 2018 or early January 2019. Appellee
is the residential parent of C.R.W. The notice included a
proposed modification to Appellant's parenting time
schedule. The trial court scheduled the matter for a hearing
on October 15, 2018.
On October 12, 2018, Appellant filed the Motion for
Reallocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities
currently before this Court, alleging that Appellee's
proposed move from Jefferson County, Ohio, to Okinawa, Japan,
was a change in circumstances, and it was in the best
interest of C. R.W. to remain in Jefferson County, Ohio in
At the hearing on the notice to relocate, which was conducted
by the Magistrate on October 15, 2018, Appellant argued that
Appellee's relocation to Japan was not in C.R.W's
best interest. Appellant argued that C.R.W. did not
appreciate the limited contact she would have with him and
her extended family following the move, and that she was not
mature enough to understand the impact of living with
Appellee and J.G. in Japan. In a Decision dated October 17,
2018, the Magistrate determined that it was in C.R.W's
best interest to modify the parenting time schedule based
upon Appellee's intent to relocate to Japan.
Appellant's visitation with C.R.W. was modified as
follows: Easter break, summer break, and either Thanksgiving
or Christmas break, to alternate each year. Further,
Appellant may visit C.R.W. in Japan at any time provided a
two-week notice is given to Appellee. Finally, if Appellant
is capable of visiting C.R.W. in Los Angeles or Seattle
during C.R.W.'s long weekends, Appellee and C.R.W. will
travel to the United States for those visits. (11/1/18 J.E.,
No objection was filed to the modified parenting time
schedule and it was incorporated into a judgment entry filed
on November 1, 2018. The transcript of the hearing is not in
the record. No appeal from the judgment entry modifying the
parenting time schedule was taken.
A hearing on the motion to reallocate parental rights was
conducted by the Magistrate on November 7, 2018. Appellant
testified and presented testimony from C.R.W.'s maternal
grandfather and paternal grandmother. Appellee testified on
her own behalf but did not call any additional witnesses. The
trial court conducted an in-camera interview with C.R.W. on
November 17, 2018.
In a Decision dated November 19, 2018, the Magistrate
determined that a change in circumstances had occurred,
because C.R.W. was much older than when the original custody
determination was made. After a brief recitation of the facts
in the record and the arguments of both parties, the
Magistrate summarily concluded that a change in custody was
not in C.R.W.'s best interest, but, instead, that it was
in her best interest to remain in the custody of her mother.
On November 26, 2018, Appellant filed a Request for a
Transcript of the hearing held on November 7, 2018, as well
as a Request for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The
Magistrate issued his Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
on November 29, 2018, which contained a more detailed
restatement of the facts and arguments advanced at the
hearing, but absolutely no analysis of the factors set forth
in R.C. 3109.04(F)(1).
Appellant filed Objections to the Magistrate's Decision
on December 12, 2018. Supplemental Objections to the
Magistrate's Decision, which included citations to the
transcript, were filed January 15, 2019. Appellee filed a
response to Appellant's Objections on January 11, 2019,
and a response to Appellant's Supplemental Objections was
filed on January 23, 2019. The trial court overruled
Appellant's objections and adopted the Magistrate's
Decision in a Judgment Entry on January 29, 2019. The
Judgment Entry simply restated the magistrate's
conclusion memorialized in his November 19th Decision. This
timely appeal followed.
C.W. R. was born on February 7, 2007, and was eleven years
old at the time of the hearing. The parties never married.
Custody and visitation were originally established in 2007
and no issues regarding custody or parenting time had been
raised prior to the current controversy. Appellee has been
the custodial parent and Appellant has had parenting time
every other weekend and every Wednesday. Appellant exercised
his summer parenting time only once, during his short-lived
marriage. The parties agree that they have been able to work
together parenting C.W.R.
C.R.W. is a life-long resident of Jefferson County, Ohio. On
the hearing date, Appellee and C.R.W. were living with
C.R.W.'s maternal grandmother in Toronto, Ohio. Appellee
conceded that C.R.W. has a strong bond with both her maternal
grandmother and her maternal step-grandmother, and that her
paternal grandparents are very active in her life. C.R.W.
frequently spent weekends at the home of her maternal
grandfather and step-grandmother, where she has her own
bedroom. C.R.W. has aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides
of her family that reside in Jefferson County, Ohio.
Appellee conceded that she has relied on her family to help
raise C.R.W., and that C.R.W's close relationships with
her extended family play a positive role in C.R.W.'s
life. Appellant agreed that both sides of C.R.W.'s
extended family play a substantial role in her daily life.
In addition to having close family ties in Jefferson County,
Ohio, C.R.W. is happily engaged in her school and community.
C.R.W. gets high grades in school. She has been active in
Destination Imagination, ballet, softball, and orchestra.
Appellant is her softball coach. Appellee conceded that