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In re L.C.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

December 18, 2019

IN RE: L.C. Z.G. Z.G. Z.G. Z.G.

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. DN 16-07-574 DN 16-07-575 DN 16-07-576 DN 16-07-577 DN 16-07-578.

          NEIL P. AGARWAL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          LESLIE GRASKE, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO GUEST, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          ANNETTE POWERS, Attorney at Law, for the Children.

          JOE KERNAN, Guardian ad Litem.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          DONNA J. CARR, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellants, L.G. ("Mother") and P.C. ("Father C"), appeal from a judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that terminated their parental rights and placed their minor children in the permanent custody of Summit County Children Services Board ("CSB"). This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} Mother is the biological mother of the five minor children at issue in this appeal: L.C., born November 29, 2004; Z.G., born May 13, 2006; Z.G., born February 20, 2008; Z.G., born January 1, 2010; and Z.G., born April 3, 2014. Father C. is the father of only the middle child, Z.G, born February 20, 2008. The other fathers did not appeal the trial court's judgment.

         {¶3} CSB has a lengthy history with this family that has included six abuse, neglect, and dependency cases dating back to 2004 when L.C. was an infant. During the case before this one, the juvenile court eventually placed the children in the legal custody of their maternal grandmother. This case began on July 11, 2016, when Akron police removed these children from the home of their grandmother pursuant to Juv.R. 6. The children were all adjudicated dependent in this case on October 24, 2016.

         {¶4} Several weeks later, CSB moved for permanent custody of all five children. The first permanent custody hearing was held as scheduled on March 9, 2017, before a visiting judge. None of the parents appeared, nor did any counsel on their behalf. After the hearing, the trial court entered judgment, terminating parental rights and awarding permanent custody of the children to CSB.

         {¶5} Mother appealed from that judgment and this Court reversed and remanded because Mother was denied proper notice and an opportunity to be heard at the permanent custody hearing. In re L.C., 9th Dist. Summit No. 28718, 2018-Ohio-370, ¶ 1. Specifically, Mother was not properly served with the permanent custody motion, and she did not have the opportunity to participate at the final hearing to defend against CSB's motion. Id. at ¶ 23.

         {¶6} On remand, CSB again moved for permanent custody. During April 2018, CSB first became aware of Father C. as a potential father of the child Z.G who was born on February 20, 2008. Father C. did not establish his paternity, however, until February 2019, shortly before the permanent custody hearing.

         {¶7} The matter proceeded to a final hearing. Mother appeared at the hearing and was represented by counsel. Father C. was incarcerated at the time, had informed his counsel that he did not want to be transported to the hearing, but that he wanted to be represented by counsel. Through counsel, Father expressed that he supported Mother receiving custody of his child.

         {¶8} Following the hearing, the trial court found, among other first prong grounds, that CSB had established grounds under R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(e) because the children had been adjudicated dependent on at least three separate occasions. The trial court also found that permanent custody was in the best interest of each child. ...


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