Justia Family Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court
Miller v. Nelson-Miller
Appellant, Rebecca Nelson-Miller, as administrator of the estate of Norman Miller, cross-appealed from a decision of the court of appeals that held that the 2005 agreed judgment entry of divorce between Norman and cross-appellee, Beth Miller, was void for noncompliance with Ohio R. Civ. P. 58(A) due to the trial court's improper delegation of its judgment-entry signatory duties to a magistrate. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the trial court's 2005 judgment entry decree of divorce, holding (1) where a court possesses jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter, mechanical irregularities regarding the trial court's signature render the judgment voidable not void; (2) therefore, the trial court's noncompliance with the signature requirement of Rule 58(A) caused the 2005 judgment entry to be merely voidable; and (3) because neither party sought any timely objection or appeal from the 2005 divorce decree, Appellee's attempted collateral attack on the trial court's voidable judgment entry in 2009 was untimely and improper. View "Miller v. Nelson-Miller" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Doe v. Court of Common Pleas (Capper)
After giving birth to a child in Ohio, Rachel Arnold placed the child for adoption. Relators' adoption of the child was finalized in May 2010. In October 2010, Todd Roccaro filed a complaint to establish paternity in the county court of common pleas. Roccaro named only Arnold as a defendant and did not name the child as a party to the case. In November 2011, Judge Thomas Capper ordered the parties to the parentage action, as well as a nonparty, the minor child, to submit to genetic testing. In January 2012, Relators, the child's adoptive parents, filed an action for a writ of prohibition to prohibit Judge Capper from proceeding in the parentage action and to direct him to enter a finding that all orders that had been entered in that case were void. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Judge Capper patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction to proceed in the parentage proceeding since the child was not made a party to the case and good cause was not shown for not making the child a party. View "State ex rel. Doe v. Court of Common Pleas (Capper)" on Justia Law
Williams v. Ormsby
Amber Williams and Frederick Ormsby, who were not married, lived together in a house Amber received through her divorce settlement. Frederick eventually paid the remaining mortgage balance, and Amber gave him title to the property by executing a quitclaim deed. As a result of a later separation, Amber and Frederick signed a document in March 2005 to sell the house and allocate the proceeds. The couple subsequently tried to reconcile and, in June 2005, they signed a second document, purportedly making themselves equal partners in the house and providing for property disposition in the event that their relationship ended. After their relationship ended, the parties filed suit against each other. The trial court determined that the March 2005 agreement was supported by consideration but that the June 2005 agreement was not and held that title to the property was vested in Frederick exclusively. The federal court of appeals reversed, concluding that moving into home with another and resuming a relationship can constitute consideration sufficient to support a contract. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that merely moving into a home with another while engaging in a romantic relationship is not consideration for the formation of a contract.
In re Adoption of M.B.
Father and Mother divorced, and Mother was granted custody of Child. Husband made child support payments until 2007. Afterwards, he sent Child a Christmas and birthday gift. Mother's husband, Stepfather, subsequently filed a petition to adopt Child. The probate court determined that Father's gifts to Child did not constitute maintenance and support for purposes of R.C. 3107.07(A), that Father had failed without cause to provide maintenance and support preceding the filing of the adoption petition, and thus, Father's consent was not needed for the adoption. The appellate court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the judgment of the probate court, holding (1) de minimis monetary gifts from a biological parent to a minor child do not constitute maintenance and support for purposes of section 3107.07(A); and (2) a probate court determination of whether a financial contribution constitutes maintenance and support for purposes of section 3107.07(A) is reviewed for an abuse of discretion, but whether justifiable cause for the failure to pay child support has been proved by clear and convincing evidence is a separate question for the probate court and will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence.
State ex rel. Otten v. Henderson
This appeal stemmed from a judgment denying a biological father's complaint for a writ of prohibition to prevent Appellees, the Clermont County Probate Court and its judge and magistrate, from proceeding on a stepfather's adoption petition when, at the time the petition was filed, a previously filed, separate adoption proceeding involving the same child initiated in the Hamilton County Probate Court by the stepfather remained pending. The biological father sought a writ of prohibition to prevent Appellees from proceeding on the adoption petition and to immediately dismiss the petition, which the court of appeals denied. The Supreme Court reversed judgment of the court of appeals and granted the writ, holding the Clermont County Probate Court patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction over the stepfather's adoption petition because the action initiated in Hamilton Court was still pending at the time the Clermont Court petition was filed.
In re Mullen
After Michele Hobbs and Kelly Mullen decided to have a child together, Mullen became pregnant through in vitro fertilization procedure with donated sperm. Mullen executed a will in which she nominated Hobbs as the guardian of her child and a health-care power of attorney and durable power of attorney in which she gave Hobbs the authority to make decisions regarding the child. Hobbs and Mullen co-parented for two years, after which the women's relationship deteriorated. Hobbs then filed a complaint for shared custody in the juvenile court, alleging that Mullen had created a contract through her conduct with Hobbs to permanently share legal custody of the child. The juvenile court dismissed Hobbs's complaint for shared legal custody, concluding that a preponderance of the evidence did not conclusively demonstrate that Mullen's conduct created a contract that permanently gave partial custodial rights of the child to Hobbs. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that competent, credible evidence supported the juvenile court's conclusion that Mullen, by her conduct, did not enter into an agreement with Hobbs through which Mullen permanently relinquished sole custody of her child in favor of shared custody with Hobbs.
Pula v. Pula-Branch
Appellant Ruby Pula, a resident of Hawaii, was the custodian of the child of Adrienne Pula-Branch, a resident of Ohio. On Pula's behalf, the Cuyahoga Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) filed a petition for child support and medical coverage against Pula-Branch under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The domestic relations court issued a child-support order. The CSEA appealed, challenging the court's calculation of child-support obligations. The appellate court held that the domestic relations court had no jurisdiction to address a UIFSA support order because the lower court's jurisdiction was limited by Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2301.03(L)(1) to matters involving divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or annulment. CSEA appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the domestic relations court does have jurisdiction over an action for support brought pursuant to the UIFSA, even if the action does not arise from one of the enumerated matters in the statute.
In re C.B.
After it was granted temporary custody of C.B. in a dependency proceeding, the county department of children and family services sought to be awarded permanent custody of the child. The juvenile court denied the motion, terminated the department's temporary custody of the child, and ordered that the child be placed with the father. The mother appealed that order, and the child's guardian ad litem (GAL) filed a cross-appeal, challenging the trial court's decision. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, holding that there was no final, appealable order in this case. The GAL sought review, which the Supreme Court granted. The Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that when a trial court denies a children-services agency's motion to modify temporary custody to permanent custody, terminates the placement of temporary custody with the agency, and awards legal custody to a parent, the order is final and appealable under Ohio Rev. Code Ann 2505.02. Additionally, the Court found that there was no reasonable basis for the juvenile court to have appointed independent counsel separate from the GAL under the circumstances.
State v. Mbodji
After being found guilty of domestic violence, appellant Mor Mbodji appealed, contending the trial court did not have jurisdiction because the domestic-violence complaint and affidavit filed by appellant's wife were not reviewed by a reviewing official pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2935.09. The court of appeals held the trial court had jurisdiction despite lack of review and later denied a motion for reconsideration. Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a complaint that meets the requirements of Ohio R. Crim. P. 3 invokes the subject-matter jurisdiction of a trial court; (2) when a complaint and affidavit are signed by a private citizen but are not reviewed by a reviewing official before filing pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2935.09, the defect is not jurisdictional but may be the subject of a Ohio R. Crim. P. 12(C) motion before trial; and (3) because a Ohio R. Crim. P. 12(C) motion was not filed in this case, the procedural defect was waived by appellant.
Wilhelm-Kissinger v. Kissinger
During the divorce proceedings of Jeffrey Kissinger and Beth Wilhelm-Kissinger, a dispute arose: Ms. Wilhelm-Kissinger allegedly illegally took privileged e-mail messages between Mr. Kissinger and his attorney from Mr. Kissinger's computer, and gave them to her attorney. Mr. Kissinger moved to disqualify Ms. WIlhelm-Kissinger's attorney. Ms. Wilhelm-Kissinger's attorney denied seeking or reviewing any of the messages in question. The trial court subsequently denied Mr. Kissinger's motion. Mr. Kissinger appealed, arguing that the denial of his motion to disqualify counsel is a final and appealable order. The appellate court found that the denial was not a final order that it could review. The Supreme Court agreed, finding that the denial of the motion to disqualify was not a final order. The Court affirmed the lower courts' judgments.