Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
JULIE C. GREGORY, n.k.a. JULIE O'NEILL, Plaintiff-Appellee,
DAVID S. GREGORY, Defendant-Appellant.
From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic
Relations Division Trial No. DR-1201191
C. Gregory, pro se,
Stagnaro Hannigan Koop, Co., L.P.A., and Michaela M.
Stagnaro, for Defendant-Appellant.
The use of a parenting coordinator is a relatively new
concept in Ohio and Hamilton County. Parenting coordination
is a novel and innovative way to manage high-conflict divorce
cases by promoting communication between the parties and
resolving ancillary parenting issues outside of the
courtroom. Nevertheless, a balance must be struck between
fulfilling the purposes of parenting coordination and
protecting the due-process rights of the parties.
In one assignment of error, David Gregory
("Father") argues that the trial court erred as a
matter of law in overruling his objections to the parenting
coordinator's decision in favor of Julie O'Neill
("Mother"). He presents two issues for review: (1)
the trial court erred as a matter of law by overruling his
objections without a hearing in violation of his due-process
rights; and (2) the court's judgment overruling his
objections was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Since we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand
the cause on the basis of the due-process claim, we do not
reach the question of whether the trial court's decision
was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
The parties entered into a final decree of divorce and final
shared-parenting plan in April 2013. Due to unresolved issues
with the parenting plan, Father and Mother both agreed to the
appointment of a parenting coordinator. Dr. Leslie Swift was
appointed as parenting coordinator in July 2014 pursuant to
Local Rule 2.11 of the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton
County, Domestic Relations Division ("LocR. 2.11").
After Swift's first term as parenting coordinator ended,
both parties agreed that they still needed a parenting
coordinator, but Father argued that it should be someone
other than Swift. The judge overruled Father's request,
and in June 2016 Swift was appointed to another two-year
In April 2018, Swift entered a written decision resolving
several parenting conflicts between the parties. Father filed
an objection to Swift's decision and requested a hearing
before the trial court. The court issued a judgment
overruling Father's objections without a hearing in July
Father now appeals the court's overruling of several of
his objections. First, he argues that two expenses that he
had incurred should be considered expenses subject to
reconciliation-the Sorribes Ear Treatment for the
parties' son and the full purchase price of the son's
laptop. Swift determined in his decision that the ear
treatment was not subject to reconciliation because there was
no definitive recommendation from the doctor for that
treatment, and the son's therapist said there was no
"impelling psychological need" for the treatment.
Father paid $2, 800 for the laptop. Swift allowed him to
submit $2, 300 for reconciliation, because he found Apple
laptops "in the range of $2, 300 with the same screen
size, although fewer add-ons."
Second, Father requested that Mother not be permitted to use
her vacation days on his Fridays with the children. Swift
determined that Mother had taken 11 of her 18 vacation days
on Father's regularly scheduled Fridays with the
children. Swift ordered that the parties were only permitted
to use eight vacation days on Fridays per year.
Third, Father requested that the parties'
"one-on-one time" with the children be suspended
since the son was not spending time with Mother. Swift denied
Father's request, saying that Mother and son were in
therapy to improve their relationship, and that Mother had
been extremely patient through an extended family-therapy
process, so she deserved considerable deference in the
Many courts throughout Ohio are using parenting coordinators
to help resolve recurring parenting disputes over issues such
as visitation schedules and child drop-off times that often
arise in "high-conflict families." See
Sowald & Morganstern, Baldwin's ...