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In re Adoption of N.F.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Logan

December 30, 2019

IN RE: THE ADOPTION OF: N.F., [JOHN M. RHOADES - APPELLANT] IN RE: THE ADOPTION OF: Z.F., [JOHN M. RHOADES - APPELLANT]

          Appeals from Logan County Common Pleas Court Probate Division Trial Court Nos. 19-AD-01 and 19-AD-02

         Judgments Affirmed

          Alison Boggs for Appellant

          Jerry M. Johnson for Appellee

          Ruth T. Kelly, Amicus Curiae, Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

          OPINION

          PRESTON, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, John M. Rhoades ("Rhoades"), appeals the June 19, 2019 judgments of the Logan County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, in which the court found that his consent is not required for the adoption of his biological children, [1] N.F. and Z.F., by Appellee, Christian T. Fogle ("Fogle"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         {¶2} On January 4, 2019, Fogle filed petitions to adopt his minor stepchildren, N.F. and Z.F. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 1); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 1). The petitions alleged that Rhoades's consent is not required for the adoptions. (Id.); (Id.). Kayla M. Fogle ("Kayla"), the children's biological mother, filed her consent for the adoptions on the same day. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 3); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 3).

         {¶3} On January 22, 2019, service of the notices of the hearing on consent was made on Rhoades. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 17); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 17). Rhoades appeared at the consent hearing on March 18, 2019 and orally objected to the petition for adoption. (Mar. 18, 2019 Tr. at 4). After determining that Rhoades failed to file an objection to the proposed adoption within 14 days after receiving notice of the filing of the petitions for adoption and the time and place of the hearing on the petitions, the trial court found that Rhoades's consent is not necessary for the adoptions. (Id. at 13-16). The trial court filed its judgment entries reflecting its finding that Rhoades's consent is not required on April 2, 2019. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 20); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 20).

         {¶4} On April 26, 2019, Rhoades filed written objections to the adoptions of N.F. and Z.F. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 28); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 28). That same day, Rhoades filed a motion to consider additional evidence in which he argued that the trial court's finding that his consent to the adoptions is not required violated his due process rights. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 26); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 26). On May 8, 2019, Fogle filed a motion to strike Rhoades's objections to the adoptions because they were filed untimely. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. Nos. 34, 36); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. Nos. 34, 36). That same day, Fogle also filed an objection to Rhoades's motion to consider additional evidence. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. Nos. 35, 37); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. Nos. 35, 37).

         {¶5} On May 16, 2019, a pretrial was held in chambers. (See Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 40); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 39). Following the pretrial, the trial court ordered that the attorneys file briefs on the issue of whether Rhoades's consent is necessary. (Id.); (Id.). On May 29, 2019, Fogle and Rhoades filed their respective briefs. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. Nos. 43, 44, 45); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. Nos. 42, 43, 44). On June 19, 2019, the trial court filed its judgment entries finding that Rhoades's consent to the adoptions is not required. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 48); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 47).

         {¶6} Rhoades filed his notices of appeal on July 15, 2019. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 56); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 55). He raises two assignments of error, which we address together.

Assignment of Error No. I
Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.07(K) violates the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to appellant's case and others similarly situated, by arbitrarily denying appellant equal protection and his due process right to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner on the petition for adoption.
Assignment of Error No. II
The hearing notice contained in Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.11(B) violates appellant's Constitutional right to due process as the notice provision is confusing, misleading and inaccurate.

         {¶7} In his first assignment of error, Rhoades argues that R.C. 3107.07(K) is unconstitutional because it arbitrarily denies those given notice of a petition for adoption pursuant to R.C. 3107.11(A)(1) equal protection and a due process right to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner on the petition for adoption. In his second assignment of error, Rhoades argues that the hearing notice contained in R.C. ...


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