From Hamilton County Juvenile Court TRIAL NO. F15-2118x
Appealed From Is: Affirmed
Charles H. Bartlett, Jr., for Appellant Father
T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and R.
Michael Waddle, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee
Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services
Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and
Elizabeth Stringer, Assistant Public Defender, Guardian ad
Litem for T.K.M.
Appellant father appeals the decision of the Hamilton County
Juvenile Court granting custody of his daughter T.K.M. to
J.C., the child's step-aunt. We find no merit in his sole
assignment of error, and we affirm the juvenile court's
The record shows that father became involved with the
child's mother and mother became pregnant while father
was separated from his wife and living in Cincinnati. Before
the child's birth, father moved from Cincinnati to
Seattle, Washington, to reconcile with his wife.
T.K.M. was born in June 2014. Mother had a history of
substance abuse, and both mother and child tested positive
for methadone. T.K.M. spent 27 days in in the neonatal
intensive care unit receiving treatment. Nevertheless, T.K.M.
remained in her mother's custody for the first year of
her life. During that year, T.K.M. spent significant time at
the home of father's mother, the child's paternal
grandmother, who was helping mother. Father had little
contact with the child during that time.
In August 2015, mother gave birth to another child, who
tested positive for opiates, which prompted the Hamilton
County Department of Job and Family Services
("HCJFS") to file a complaint alleging that T.K.M.
was dependent, neglected, and abused, and a motion for
interim custody. She was placed in grandmother's home.
Father appeared at a pretrial hearing on November 13, 2015.
He stipulated that he was T.K.M.'s father and that he
financially supported the child. Subsequently, grandmother
filed a petition for custody of T.K.M., which stated that
father "lives in Seattle, WA and wants baby to have
contact with mother and has asked * * * his mother[, ] [the
child's] grandmother[, ] to take custody and keep them in
contact." A case plan filed on January 19, 2016, stated
that father was aware of T.K.M.'s living situation, and
that he was "not interested in caring for" T.K.M.
On February 25, 2016, T.K.M. was found to be dependent and
abused. The juvenile court granted temporary custody to HCJFS
and continued placement with grandmother. The case plan's
goal at that time was reunification with mother, who was
required to maintain sobriety and complete drug treatment.
T.K.M. lived in grandmother's home from September 4,
2015, until February of 2017, when she was about two and
one-half years old. During that time, father visited the
child several times and talked with her by phone. T.K.M.