IN RE: M.B. R.B. A.B.
FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. DN 17-05-359 DN 17-05-360 DN 17-05-361
A. LEISTER, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
MOTHER, pro se, Appellee.
HURLBURT, Attorney at Law, Guardian ad litem.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
J. CARR, JUDGE
Appellant Father appeals the judgment of the Summit County
Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that terminated the
protective supervision of appellee Summit County Children
Services Board ("CSB" or "the agency"),
retained his three children in the legal custody of appellee
Mother, and denied his motions for visitation and to modify
the case plan. This Court reverses and remands.
Father and Mother are the biological parents of MB. (d.o.b.
1/22/04), R.B. (d.o.b. 4/22/05), and A.B. (d.o.b. 8/17/07),
who were born during the course of the parents' marriage.
In 2008, Mother and Father initiated divorce proceedings,
which culminated in a judgment decree of divorce. In 2014,
cases involving each of the children were filed in the Summit
County Juvenile Court. As a result of those cases, the
children resided with Mother, while Father enjoyed visitation
with the children.
In 2017, CSB filed complaints alleging that the three
children were abused and dependent based on allegations of
sexual abuse by Father and the paternal grandmother, as well
as other behavior by Father which caused fear and distress in
the children. The agency immediately obtained an order that
the children would remain in the legal custody of Mother
under an order of protective supervision by CSB. Father was
to have no contact with the children. After the shelter care
hearing, the magistrate lifted the no contact order and
allowed Father to have supervised visitation. Father filed a
motion for temporary custody to CSB, with placement of the
children in a foster home, based on his concerns that Mother
was brainwashing the children and alienating them from him.
Father also moved for a psychological evaluation of Mother
and to transfer the children from their current counseling
center to a counseling center Father identified as equipped
to address issues related to divorce and parental
manipulation. Shortly thereafter, Father filed a motion for
legal custody and alleged that Mother and CSB were engaged in
a conspiracy to alienate the children from Father.
After an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile court found each
child to be dependent pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C). The trial
court dismissed all allegations of abuse and the remaining
allegations of dependency as to each child. After a
dispositional hearing, the juvenile court maintained the
children in Mother's legal custody and ordered CSB to
provide protective supervision. Based in part on the
recommendation of the guardian ad litem, the juvenile court
suspended Father's visitation with the children. The
agency's case plan was adopted as the order of the court.
CSB later filed a motion to terminate protective supervision
but withdrew it a few months later based on Father's
progress on his case plan objectives. Because the
children's counselors reported that the children were not
yet ready to visit with Father or engage in joint counseling
with him, CSB moved for a first six-month extension of its
protective supervision to allow time for additional progress.
Father filed a motion for visitation, a reallocation of
parental rights and responsibilities, and a modification of
the case plan to address the issue of parental alienation by
Mother over the past ten years. Father appended to his motion
a report by a parental alienation expert who opined that all
four factors indicative of parental alienation existed
regarding M.B., R.B., and A.B. Father requested that the
juvenile court address his motions at the hearing scheduled
for May 22, 2018.
The record indicates that the parties appeared for a hearing
on May 22, 2018. The juvenile court issued a judgment in
which it merely continued the hearing to begin on July 30,
2018, without issuing any orders addressing Father's
motions for visitation and a modification of the case plan to
address the issue of parental alienation. Two months later,
CSB filed a renewed motion to terminate its protective
At the beginning of the five-day hearing beginning on July
30, 2018, the juvenile court informed the parties that the
only pending motions before it were CSB's written motion
to terminate permanent custody and the parents' implicit
motions for legal custody. When Father's attorney
reminded the court that Father also had pending motions to
modify the case plan and for visitation in the interim, the
juvenile court asserted that it would only consider final
dispositional motions, not any preliminary requests, because
it planned to issue a final judgment fully disposing of the
case after hearing the evidence. Father argued that, despite
his frequent and repeated requests that CSB add an objective
to the ...