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In re T.K.M.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District

December 11, 2019

IN RE: T.K.M.

          Appeal From Hamilton County Juvenile Court TRIAL NO. F15-2118x

         Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed

          Charles H. Bartlett, Jr., for Appellant Father

          Joseph 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.

          OPINION

          MOCK, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶1} 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 judgment.

         Factual Background

         {¶2} 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.

         {¶3} 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.

         {¶4} 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.

         {¶5} 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.

         {¶6} 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.

         {¶7} 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. ...


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