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In re C.T-T.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 22, 2019

IN RE C.T-T., ET AL. Minor Children Appeal by T.T., Mother

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case Nos. CU 15102485 and CU 15102486


          T.T., pro se.

          Law Offices of Neil W. Siegel, and Michael T. Ditzel, for appellee.


          FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.

         {¶ 1} Respondent-appellant, T.T. ("Mother"), brings the instant appeal, pro se, challenging the trial court's judgment entry awarding joint custody and adopting a shared parenting plan regarding Mother's and petitioner-appellee, F.T.'s ("Father"), children. After a thorough review of the record and law, this court affirms.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} The instant case was initiated by Father when he filed an application for custody of the parties' children, C.T-T. (d.o.b. June 11, 2006) and G.T-T. (d.o.b. December 12, 2007), on February 23, 2015, in the Cuyahoga County Court of Commons Pleas, Juvenile Division ("trial court"). Sometime in September or August 2014, Mother and the two children moved from Ohio to Colorado. Father filed his motion for custody based on allegations that Mother was using corporal punishment on the children while they were residing in Colorado. Specifically, the allegations were that Mother was striking the children with an electrical cord. Father also alleged that Mother shoved socks in the children's mouths in an attempt to muffle the children's screams from the strikes because the children were being too noisy or loud. Mother also allegedly tied the children's legs together with rope in an attempt to stop the children from running away from her while she was striking the children. Father alleged that the children were in danger of immediate harm if Mother returned to Colorado with the children.

         {¶ 3} A hearing on Father's motion for custody was scheduled for August 13, 2015. On August 6, 2015, Mother filed a motion to dismiss and/or transfer jurisdiction. On August 11, 2015, Father filed a motion for temporary custody and to stay child support. On August 13, 2015, the magistrate held a hearing on the various motions. Present at the hearing was Father, his counsel, and Mother, who proceeded pro se. Also present at the hearing was a guardian ad litem ("GAL") for the children whom was appointed by the court on July 8, 2015. At the hearing, the GAL made an oral motion to the magistrate for emergency temporary custody to Father. Prior to the hearing, the magistrate conducted an in camera interview with the children. The children corroborated the corporal punishment allegations made by Father in his motion. After hearing testimony from Mother and Father, the magistrate granted Father's motion for temporary custody. Thereafter, the matter was scheduled for pretrial hearings on Father's motion to determine custody.

         {¶ 4} The matter eventually proceeded to trial on Father's motion to determine custody on August 4, 2016. The magistrate heard testimony on Father's motion on August 4, 2016, and the matter was continued. Thereafter, Father, on September 19, 2016, filed a motion to adopt a shared parenting plan. The matter continued for nearly one and one-half years as the parties seemingly negotiated the terms of a shared parenting plan. The matter then proceeded to trial scheduled for January 4, 2018.

         {¶ 5} Prior to commencing trial on January 4, 2018, the parties, each represented by counsel, drafted a shared parenting plan that granted custody of the children to both parties. This shared parenting plan was then submitted to the magistrate, and the magistrate approved and adopted the shared parenting plan.[1]

         {¶ 6} On January 9, 2018, the magistrate issued a decision granting Father's motion to determine custody and ordered that the agreement of the parties - the shared parenting plan - be adopted and approved. On January 16, 2018, Mother, while represented by counsel, filed pro se objections to the magistrate's decision. On January 23, 2018, Mother, through her counsel, filed additional objections to the magistrate's decision.

         {¶ 7} On March 29, 2018, the trial court issued a judgment entry overruling Mother's objections, adopting the magistrate's decision, and awarding joint custody to the parties.

         {¶ 8} On April 13, 2018, Mother, pro se, filed a notice of appeal in the instant matter. On April 16, 2018, this court issued a judgment entry, sua sponte ordering Mother to file an amended notice of appeal. Mother complied with this sua sponte order and filed an amended notice of appeal on April 30, 2018. Mother presents 13 assignments of error for our review presented verbatim below:

I. No Jurisdiction
II. Not the first Custody Application
III. No Motion filed by either party for in camera
IV. No due process - made to have emergency custody hearing without an attorney of time to prepare. No respect for mothers rights or explanation of rights. Court gave temporary Parenting time to F.T. without a investigation or hearing as to whether that was in the best interest. That was a modification of the original order, w/o due process. He then used that to file for temporary custody, quote line.
V. No continuance for Attorney
VI. No emergency that warranted emergency ...

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