Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The case involves a dispute over child support between Deborah Belleville and David Ayers, who were married in 2006 and had three children. In July 2019, Belleville filed for divorce. At the time, both parties were employed with comparable incomes. However, in February 2020, Ayers lost his job due to organizational changes at his company, CSX Transportation, and remained unemployed at the time of the final divorce hearing in late 2020. Ayers testified that he was seeking employment but that the job market was very small due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Belleville, on the other hand, believed that Ayers could get a new job.The trial court issued an order in December 2020, designating Belleville as the residential parent and legal custodian of the children and ordering Ayers to pay child support. The court calculated child support based on the "potential income" of Ayers, who was unemployed. The court imputed potential income to Ayers based on his previous earnings at CSX. Ayers appealed the trial court's judgment, arguing that the court had erred in imputing his potential income for child-support purposes.The Supreme Court of Ohio held that the domestic-relations court must expressly find that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed as a condition precedent to imputing potential income for child-support-calculation purposes. The court found that the trial court had failed to make an express determination of voluntary unemployment, which was a reversible error. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment of the Sixth District Court of Appeals and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Ayers v. Ayers" on Justia Law

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The case involves S.Y.C., who appealed the judgment of the Eighth District Court of Appeals dismissing her petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus against Judge Alison L. Floyd of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. S.Y.C. sought to compel rulings on motions pending before Judge Floyd, who was overseeing the child-custody cases involving S.Y.C., her former partner, and their two children. The Eighth District dismissed S.Y.C.’s petition as moot, finding that Judge Floyd had disposed of the motions.The case originated in the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, and was transferred to Cuyahoga County in 2016. It involved multiple appeals, petitions for extraordinary writs, and affidavits of disqualification. S.Y.C. filed a petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus in the Eighth District, alleging that Judge Floyd had failed to rule on “at least seven” pending motions filed between April 2021 and August 2022. Judge Floyd filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that S.Y.C.’s petition was moot as the motions identified in S.Y.C.’s petition had been ruled on or withdrawn or were not a motion and therefore did not require a decision from the court.The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Eighth District Court of Appeals’ judgment dismissing S.Y.C.’s petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus as moot. The court found that Judge Floyd had ruled on all the motions that were the subject of the petition, rendering moot S.Y.C.’s petition. The court also rejected S.Y.C.’s other arguments about Judge Floyd’s rulings, noting that S.Y.C. was essentially seeking an appellate review of Judge Floyd’s judgments, which is not the purpose of either procedendo or mandamus. View "State ex rel. S.Y.C. v. Floyd" on Justia Law

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The case involves a divorce proceeding initiated by Jolene K. Makuch against John Makuch III in the Geauga County Common Pleas Court. Jolene represented herself, stating she could not afford representation. After the trial, the magistrate noted that Jolene had failed to provide evidence regarding the division of marital property, spousal or child support, or attorney fees. The magistrate ordered a hearing for the parties to present additional evidence on these matters. John objected to the magistrate's decision, challenging the order for a hearing to present additional evidence.The Common Pleas Court, presided over by Judge Carolyn J. Paschke, overruled John's objections and adopted the magistrate's decision. The court noted that the parties had failed to present sufficient evidence at trial regarding the nature, extent, and value of the marital property, their income, and debts. The court set a future hearing date for the parties to present complete evidence on these matters. John appealed this decision to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals.The Court of Appeals dismissed John's appeal for lack of jurisdiction, determining that Judge Paschke's entry was not a final order under R.C. 2505.02(B). The court explained that in a divorce action, no final appealable order exists until all issues relating to property division, support, and parental rights and responsibilities have been addressed. John then appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.The Supreme Court of Ohio declined to accept jurisdiction in this discretionary appeal filed on behalf of John. The court found the appeal to be frivolous, as it was neither warranted by existing law nor supported by a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law. The court denied John's motions for clarification and for leave to file a supplemental brief. The court also declined to impose sanctions on John's counsel, who had previously been declared to be vexatious litigators. View "Makuch v. Makuch" on Justia Law

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In this case from the Supreme Court of Ohio, the court considered whether a derivative claim for loss of parental consortium could proceed even when the primary medical negligence claim, on which it was based, was barred by the statute of repose. The appellants, Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy, had filed a medical negligence claim against Dr. Lee and associated medical practices, alleging negligent care in the treatment of Mrs. McCarthy's condition. The claim was dismissed due to the statute of repose. Subsequently, the McCarthys filed a separate claim on behalf of their three minor children for loss of consortium due to the treatment of Mrs. McCarthy's condition. The medical providers moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that it could not stand alone as it was a derivative claim of the previously dismissed medical claim. The trial court granted the motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.Upon appeal, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that the children's derivative claim for loss of parental consortium could not exist when the principal claim on which it was based was extinguished by the statute of repose. The court explained that the statute of repose operates as a substantive bar to a claim, extinguishing both the remedy and the right. Therefore, when a principal claim is extinguished, no other claim derived from it can exist. The court affirmed the lower court's decision to dismiss the children's derivative claim for loss of parental consortium. View "McCarthy v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Ohio examined the appropriate standard of review for cases involving a juvenile court’s decision to award permanent custody of a child and to terminate parental rights. The case stemmed from a dispute surrounding the custody of a minor child, Z.C., with the Ashtabula County Children Services Board (ACCSB) granted permanent custody. The father, D.C., appealed this decision, resulting in a conflict between the Eleventh District Court of Appeals and other appellate districts regarding the correct standard of review. The Eleventh District Court of Appeals applied an abuse-of-discretion standard to its review, while other courts applied a sufficiency-of-the-evidence and/or manifest-weight-of-the-evidence standard. The Supreme Court of Ohio held that the correct appellate standards of review in these cases are the sufficiency-of-the-evidence and/or manifest-weight-of-the-evidence standards, depending on the arguments presented by the parties. The Court found that the Eleventh District Court of Appeals erred in applying an abuse-of-discretion standard and remanded the case for review under the correct standard. View "In re Z.C." on Justia Law

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In the case before the Supreme Court of Ohio, Michael Swazey Jr. was indicted for failing to pay child support. He filed a pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment under Rule 12(C)(2) of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure, arguing that the statutes he allegedly violated did not apply to him. The trial court declined to consider Swazey's motion on the merits, holding that the arguments raised were not permitted under Rule 12(C)(2) but should instead be presented at the close of the state’s case at trial. Swazey subsequently pleaded guilty to all counts.On appeal, the Ninth District Court of Appeals held that Swazey’s Rule 12(C)(2) motion was proper and should have been considered on the merits. It also held that by entering a guilty plea, Swazey did not waive his right to raise a constitutional challenge on appeal.The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the court of appeals' decision, stating that Swazey's motion to dismiss was appropriate under Rule 12(C)(2), and that his guilty plea did not waive his right to raise his constitutional challenge on appeal. Therefore, the Supreme Court of Ohio remanded the case back to the trial court to consider Swazey's pretrial motion. View "State v. Swazey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined to accept this discretionary appeal filed on behalf of H.R. and sanctioned the three attorneys representing H.R. for instituting a frivolous appeal.The underlying dispute involved two motions filed by H.R. to modify a divorce decree regarding a spousal support obligation payable by P.J.E. to H.R. The trial court denied H.R.'s motion to continue the hearing on her motions to modify, and the court of appeal dismissed H.R.'s appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed H.R.'s appeal and sanctioned H.R.'s attorneys with paying P.J.E.'s reasonable attorney fees and declaring them to be vexatious litigators, holding that the three attorneys had repeatedly engaged in frivolous conduct. View "H.R. v. P.J.E." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied this action brought by Jennifer Giroux and Thomas Brinkman (collectively, Giroux) challenging an initiative petition to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 7, 2023 ballot, holding that Giroux failed to show that Ohio law required invalidating the petition.At issue was a petition proposing a constitutional amendment entitled "Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety." Giroux brought this challenge alleging that the petition did not comply with Ohio Rev. Code 3519.01(A). The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that section 3519.01(A) does not require a petition proposing a constitutional amendment to include the text of the existing statute, and Giroux's challenge failed for this reason. View "Giroux v. Committee Representing Petitioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of prohibition preventing Judge Peter J. Corrigan from proceeding in a declaratory judgment and preliminary injunction action, holding that Judge Corrigan did not lack jurisdiction to proceed in the case.United Twenty-Fifth Building, LLC sued Jessica Maron, a party to a pending divorce case, alleging that Jessica was interfering with an easement involving a multistory building in Cleveland. Specifically, United argued that Jessica was preventing access to the building's elevator, lobby, and stairwell and delaying the construction of a restaurant in the building. Jessica filed a prohibition petition seeking to prevent Judge Corrigan from exercising jurisdiction in United's case because, under the jurisdictional-priority rule, Judge Corrigan patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction to proceed because the case involved property that may be subject to equitable division in her divorce case. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Jessica failed to show that the jurisdictional-priority rule applied under the circumstances of this case. View "State ex rel. Maron v. Corrigan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Respondents' motion to dismiss the underlying complaint seeing writs of procedendo and mandamus to compel Respondents to proceed to a hearing on an ex parte motion seeking temporary custody of minor children, holding that dismissal was warranted.Specifically, the Supreme Court (1) sua sponte dismissed the claims against Sherrick; (2) dismissed the mandamus claim as to all Respondents based on Relator's failure to properly caption her complaint; and (3) dismissed the procedendo claims against all Respondents because none of the Respondents were properly named as defendants. View "Page v. Geauga County Probate & Juvenile Court" on Justia Law