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In re Adoption of P.R.K.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Ashland

December 26, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF: THE ADOPTION OF P.R.K.

          Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, Case No. 20185015

         JUDGMENT: Reversed and Remanded

          For Petitioner-Appellant KRISTIN E. BROWN.

          For Mother-Appellee R.S., NO APPEARANCE.

          JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J., Hon. John W. Wise, J., Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          WISE, JOHN, J.

         {¶1} Appellant D.K. appeals the decision of the Ashland County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, which denied her petition to adopt her step-grandson, P.R.K., born in 2014. Appellee is the child's mother, R.S. The child's father is not a participant in the present appeal. The relevant procedural facts leading to this appeal are as follows.

         Prior Juvenile Court Proceedings involving P.R.K.

         {¶2} In 2014, in the Ashland County Juvenile Court, Appellant D.K. and her then-husband (the paternal grandfather of P.R.K.) filed an action for the allocation of parental rights as to P.R.K. Via a judgment entry issued on March 9, 2016, the juvenile court designated appellant and her then-husband as the legal custodians of P.R.K., with additional orders as to parenting time for the child's mother, R.S. This custody arrangement thereafter legally remained in effect, although appellant and P.R.K.'s grandfather apparently are now divorced. We are not privy to the full outcome of the divorce, but P.R.K. has at least been in appellant's physical custody since that time.

         {¶3} However, on January 22, 2018, in the juvenile case, R.S. filed a motion for contempt against appellant, alleging interference with parenting time under the aforesaid custody orders. A hearing before the magistrate was conducted on March 8, 2018. At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate found no contempt of court had been demonstrated.[1]

         Probate Court Proceedings involving P.R.K.

         {¶4} On August 10, 2018, appellant filed a petition for the adoption of a minor in the Ashland County Probate Court.[2] Appellant filed an amended petition on November 7, 2018. An evidentiary hearing was conducted before the probate judge on December 31, 2018. P.R.K.'s father appeared at that time and stated on the record that he consented to the adoption. P.R.K.'s mother, R.S., did not appear and had not filed any responsive pleadings regarding the adoption petition.

         {¶5} After taking the matter under advisement, the probate court issued an eight-page judgment entry on April 22, 2019. The court, relying in part upon information gleaned from the aforementioned contempt proceedings in juvenile court, concluded among other things that the consent of R.S. would be required, as further discussed infra. The court therefore dismissed appellant's petition and amended petition for the adoption of P.R.K.

         {¶6} Appellant filed a notice of appeal on May 22, 2019. She herein raises the ...


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