Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relators compelling Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services (TCJFS) to produce copies of, or permit Relators to inspect, records pertaining to their childhood history with TCJFS, holding that TCJFS did not have a clear legal duty to allow Relators to inspect or copy the records they sought.Relators were sisters who spent portions of their childhoods in the Tuscarawas County foster care system. Relators believed that they experienced trauma while in foster care and that access to their TCJFS records would help them move forward with their lives. Relators commenced this mandamus action seeking to compel TCJFS to produce copies of, or permit Relators' access to, TCJFS records pertaining to them. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding (1) the TCJFS director's good-cause finding did not create a legal duty requiring TCJFS to give Relators full access to all TCJFS records pertaining to them; (2) Ohio.Adm.Code 5101:2-33-21(H) did not impose a duty on TCJFS to disseminate any records to Relators; and (3) Relators failed to submit sufficient evidence supporting that there was good cause to override Ohio Rev. Code 5153.17's confidentiality requirement. View "State ex rel. Martin v. Tuscarawas County Job & Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the court of common pleas, domestic relations division, ordering the release, subject to a protective order, of the mental-health records of Mother, holding that the physician-patient privilege did not shield the records from discovery.During the parties' divorce proceedings, both parties sought custody of their four children. During discovery, Father issued subpoenas for Mother's mental health records to various doctors and mental-health provisions. The trial court ordered that the subpoenaed records be submitted under seal to the court for an in camera determination of their relevance. After in camera review, the trial judge concluded that Mother's requests for child custody and spousal support put her physical and mental conditions at issue and waived the physician-patient privilege. The court then ordered the release of the mental-health records, subject to a protective order. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that while communications between a physician and patient are generally privileged, Mother's filing of this divorce action, with claims for child custody and spousal support, triggered the Ohio Rev. Code 2317.02(B)(1)(a)(iii) exception to the privilege. View "Torres Friedenberg v. Friedenberg" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court placing Mother's child in the permanent custody of the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services (the agency), holding that because the child was in the temporary custody of the agency for twelve or more months of a consecutive twenty-two-month period, the agency was entitled to seek permanent custody.After the was found to be a dependent child the agency was given temporary custody. Later, the agency filed a motion for permanent custody of the child. After a hearing, court placed the child in the permanent custody of the agency. The court of appeals affirmed. At issue was whether, under section 2151.414(B)(1)(d), an agency may seek permanent custody of a child only if the child has been in the temporary custody of the agency for twelve or more months of a consecutive twenty-two-month period. The Supreme Court answered in the negative, holding that permanent custody may be granted to an agency if the child has been in the temporary custody of one or more public children services agencies for twelve or more months of a consecutive twenty-two-month permanent and permanent custody is in the best interest of the child. View "In re N.M.P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the court of appeals and remanded these cases to the juvenile court to enter orders of dismissal without prejudice, holding that Ohio Rev. Code 2151.35(B)(1) mandates the dismissal of a case if a juvenile court fails to conduct a dispositional hearing within ninety days of the filing of a complaint alleging that a child is abused, neglected or dependent.These cases involved two mothers and their children. Complaints were filed alleging the children to be abused and/or dependent. The mothers filed motions to dismiss arguing that section 2151.35(B)(1) required dismissal because the court had failed to hold its dispositional hearing within ninety days of the filing of the complaints. The juvenile court magistrates denied the motions. The magistrates found the children dependent and abused, and the juvenile courts adopted the magistrate's decisions. The court of appeals concluded that both mothers implicitly waived their right to a ninety-day disposition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the magistrates did not hold disposition hearings within the ninety-day period the juvenile court erred by failing to enter orders of dismissal without prejudice. View "In re K.M." on Justia Law

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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