Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the probate court finding that a single payment of child support made by Father did not amount to the provision of support "as required by law or judicial decree" and therefore concluding that Father's consent was not required for the adoption of his child, holding that the single payment was insufficient to preserve Father's right to object to the adoption of his child. Father was a biological parent of the child who was ordered by a court to pay child support of $85 per week. The only payment Father made in the year before the filing of the adoption petition was a single payment of $200, constituting less than five percent of his annual obligation. On appeal, Father asserted that under Ohio Rev. Code 3107.07(A), provision of any amount of maintenance and support during the statutory one-year period constituted maintenance and support "as required by law or judicial decree." The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, under the plain language of the statute, Father did not provide for the maintenance and support of the child "as required by law or judicial decree" for the requisite one-year period. View "In re Adoption of A.C.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by C.H. to bar Respondents, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Jennifer L. O'Malley and her designated magistrate, from exercising jurisdiction over a case involving the custody of C.H.'s biological grandchild, holding that Respondents had jurisdiction over the pending action. The child in this custody dispute was removed from the home of his adoptive mother, C.H., in Arizona and placed in temporary emergency custody of Cory Osley, who claimed to be the child's biological father and filed an application to determine the custody of the child in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. C.H. challenged Ohio's jurisdiction over the case and asked that the child be returned to the custody of C.H. The magistrate ordered that the Ohio court had jurisdiction over the child's immediate well being and ordered the child to remain in Osley's temporary emergency custody. C.H. then commenced this action for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that Ohio was the child's home state when Osley filed the pending custody application, and therefore, Respondents had jurisdiction in this matter. View "C.H. v. O'Malley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's judgment approving the decision of the magistrate granting Sandra Walsh's motion for relief from judgment under Civ.R. 60(B)(4) and (5), holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to modify the length of the marriage stated in the divorce decree. Todd and Sandra Walsh memorialized their agreement in a consent judgment of divorce, which the trial court adopted as a final decree of divorce. Later, the magistrate granted Sandra's Civ.R. 60(B) motion and altered the divorce decree by changing the marriage term and ordering that Sandra was to receive fifteen percent of Todd's retirement pay per month. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court lacked authority to modify the divorce decree. View "Walsh v. Walsh" on Justia Law

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In this case involving the manner in which earnings from commissions figure into the calculation of child support, the Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 3119.05(D) covers income earned from commissions and that the juvenile court and court of appeals erred by failing to apply its mandatory terms. After a magistrate awarded child support to Mother, Father objected to the child-support determinations, asserting that the magistrate erred in including projected commissions when calculating his gross income. The juvenile court adopted the order of the magistrate. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that commissions were not governed by section 3119.05(D), and therefore, the trial court did not err by including Father's projected commissions in its calculation of his gross annual income. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that commissions are included with the terms of section 3119.05(D) and must be calculated as provided in that section when determining a parent's annual gross income. View "A.S. v. J.W." on Justia Law

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In this case involving the correct interpretation of Ohio Rev. Code 3107.07(A), the statute that sets forth when the adoption of a minor child may proceed without a parent's consent, the Supreme Court held that a parent's nonsupport of his or her minor child pursuant to a judicial decree does not extinguish the requirement of that parent's consent to the adoption of the child. Appellant, the child's stepfather, filed a petition seeking to adopt B.I. and arguing that Father's consent was not required under section 3107.07(A) because Father had failed to provide support for B.I. during the year preceding the filing of the petition. During that year, Father was not subject to a child-support order pursuant to a zero-support order. The magistrate concluded that Father's consent to the adoption was not required. The probate court overruled the magistrate, concluding that a valid, zero-support order provides justifiable cause for a failure to provide maintenance and support under section 3107.07(A). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, pursuant to section 3107.07(A), a parent's nonsupport of his or her minor child pursuant to a zero-support order of a court of competent jurisdiction does not extinguish the requirement of that parent's consent to the adoption of the child. View "In re Adoption of B.I." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted C.V.'s request for a writ of prohibition against the Greene County Juvenile Court judge, holding that C.V. was entitled to a writ of prohibition against the Greene County Juvenile Court judge on the ground that he patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction to approve C.V.'s agreement to permanently surrender her child to the custody of Adoption Link, Inc. C.V. did not know she was pregnant when she gave birth to N.V. Four days later, C.V. executed a permanent surrender of child agreement, assigning permanent custody of N.V. to Adoption Link. The juvenile court judge approved the surrender agreement, granted Adoption Link permanent custody, and terminated C.V.'s parental rights. The Supreme Court held (1) the juvenile court judge's purported approval of the surrender agreement between C.V. and Adoption Link was a legal nullity and must be voided; (2) C.V.'s request for a writ of prohibition against the Greene County Probate Court judge to prevent him from exercising power over N.V.'s adoption proceedings is denied; and (3) C.V.'s request for a writ of habeas corpus is denied because C.V. has an adequate remedy available to her in the ordinary course of law. View "State ex rel. C.V. v. Adoption Link, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment denying Carol Fradette's petition for a writ of prohibition against Joseph Fradette and Judge Rosemary Grdina Gold and Magistrate Michelle Edwards of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, holding that the court of appeals correctly denied the writ. In 1999, Carol and Joseph were divorced, and Carol was awarded spousal support. In 2017, Joseph filed a fourth motion to terminate or modify spousal support, which was scheduled for a hearing before Magistrate Edwards. Carol moved a motion to dismiss, which Judge Gold denied. In 2018, Carol filed this writ of prohibition arguing that Judge Gold exceeded her statutory authority by permitting Joseph to file multiple motions to terminate or modify spousal support. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Carol was not entitled to the writ. View "Fradette v. Gold" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the complaint of Appellant for a writ of prohibition or mandamus seeking a writ requiring dismissal of an adoption proceeding concerning his biological child, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed. The adoption case was probate in the probate division of the court of common pleas. Appellee in this action was the judge of that court. In his complaint, Appellant argued that because an adoption cannot be granted under Ohio Rev. Code 3107.06 without the biological father’s consent, he deprived the probate court of jurisdiction by withholding his consent to the adoption. The court of appeals dismissed the prohibition claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the probate court clearly possessed jurisdiction to determine whether Appellant’s consent was required and because Appellant could appeal any adverse judgment, the court of appeals correctly dismissed the prohibition claim; and (2) mandamus was not proper because Appellant had no legal right to such a dismissal, nor did the common pleas court judge have any legal duty to grant it. View "State ex rel. Roush v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that an order appointing a guardian ad litem (GAL) for an adult is not a final, appealable order under Ohio Rev. Code 2505.02(B) and vacated the trial court’s order appointing a GAL to act on Appellant’s behalf in her divorce case. The court of common pleas, domestic relations division, issued an order appointing a GAL to represent Appellant in her divorce case without providing her with prior notice or an opportunity to be heard on the issue. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding (1) because the order was issued during a special proceeding and affects a substantial right and because Appellant will not be provided adequate relief if she is not permitted immediately to appeal the order, the order is a final, appealable order under section 2505.02(B)(2); and (2) the order violated Appellant’s due process rights. View "Thomasson v. Thomasson" on Justia Law

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In adoption proceedings, a probate court must consider the existence of pending parenting matters when determining whether an exception to the requirement of parental consent to adoption applies. Stepfather filed petitions to adopt the minor children of his wife and Father, her ex-husband. Stepfather’s adoption petition stated that Father’s consent was not required under an exception set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 3107.06 because Father failed without justifiable cause to provide more than a de minimis contact with the children for at least a year immediately preceding the filing of the petitions. While Stepfather’s adoption petitions were pending in the probate court, proceedings in domestic-relations court remained ongoing, specifically, Father’s motion to reestablish parenting time. The probate court determined that Father’s consent was not required. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the probate court had jurisdiction to proceed on the adoption petitions despite the pending parenting matter in the domestic-relations court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the probate court failed to consider Father’s motion to reestablish parenting time in determining whether Father’s consent to the adoption of his children was required. View "In re Adoption of M.G.B.-E." on Justia Law