Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. JN2017-0105
Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, John
C. Heinkel, Government Services Center, for appellee.
Ashcraft, for appellant.
Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC, Guardian ad Litem.
1} Appellant, father of M.A., appeals the decision
of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, granting permanent custody of M.A. to appellee,
Butler County Department of Job and Family Services, Children
Services Division ("BCDJFS"). For the reasons
detailed below, we affirm the juvenile court's decision.
2} BCDJFS filed a complaint on March 20, 2017,
alleging dependency of M.A. and requesting temporary custody.
At the time of the complaint, M.A. was nearly two and one-
half years old and lived with his mother and three older
half-siblings. The juvenile court granted temporary
custody and BCDJFS placed M.A. with his paternal grandmother.
That placement proved unsuitable, so in early April 2017,
M.A. was moved into foster care. Based in part on the need to
change placement and because the initial complaint did not
provide specific facts for the dependency allegation, BCDJFS
filed an amended complaint on April 6, 2017. The amended
complaint alleged several bases for dependency: M.A.'s
mother was homeless, unemployed, and had been sentenced to
serve time in jail; appellant had active warrants from the
Middletown Municipal Court for drug offenses; appellant had
been arguing and fighting over housing and finances in the
presence of the children; and appellant had violated an
earlier order from the court to have no contact with M.A.
3} On June 5, 2017, the juvenile court adjudicated
M.A. dependent. A dispositional hearing was held on July 7,
2017 before a magistrate. The magistrate ordered M.A. to
remain in the temporary custody of BCDJFS and approved a case
plan which had the goal of reunification of M.A. with his
parents. This case plan required appellant to complete a
substance abuse/mental illness assessment, complete treatment
and therapeutic programs based on that assessment, submit to
drug screening upon request, procure and maintain stable
employment and housing, participate in a parenting education
program, and demonstrate an understanding of his child's
individual needs with an ability to consistently meet those
needs. The juvenile court subsequently adopted the
magistrate's dispositional orders.
4} During the pendency of the case, appellant only
limitedly complied with the case plan requirements. Appellant
completed the required substance abuse/mental illness
assessment and requested drug screenings, however, he failed
to complete the recommended treatment and therapeutic
programs. In addition, appellant routinely tested positive
for illicit controlled substances such as amphetamine,
methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana on requested drug
screenings. Furthermore, appellant was intermittently
incarcerated for different criminal charges. Finally,
appellant had his regular visitation appointments with M.A.
suspended on two occasions because of his failure to appear
at appointments or arrive late to appointments two times
within a 30-day period.
5} On October 12, 2018, BCDJFS moved for permanent
custody of M.A. In March 2019, a juvenile court magistrate
held a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, the magistrate
heard testimony from M.A.'s mother, appellant, and the
assigned BCDJFS caseworker. Additionally, BCDJFS presented
several documentary exhibits including the drug screening
analyses, the social summary reports generated by BCDJFS,
appellant's substance abuse/mental illness assessments,
and the reports from appellant's limited
6} On March 25, 2019, the magistrate granted the
motion for permanent custody. The juvenile court overruled
objections filed by appellant and adopted the
magistrate's decision. Appellant now appeals, raising two
assignments of error for review. For ease of analysis, the
two assignments of error will be discussed together.
7} Assignment of Error No. 1:
8} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF
APPELLANT BY GRANTING BCCS'S MOTION FOR PERMANENT CUSTODY
WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE.
9} Assignment of Error No. 2:
10} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF THE
APPELLANT BY GRANTING THE STATE'S MOTION FOR PERMANENT
CUSTODY WHICH WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE
11} In both assignments of error, appellant argues
that the trial court should not have granted BCDJFS permanent
custody because BCDJFS failed to prove permanent custody was
in M.A.'s best interest ...