Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a writ of prohibition preventing the order of a court of common pleas judge restoring Appellant's firearms rights from being effective, holding that a writ of prohibition was warranted.Appellant was convicted of a crime in Ohio that prohibited him, under federal law, to possess a firearm unless Appellant had his civil rights restored under Ohio law, 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33)(B)(ii). Appellant filed an application for relief from his federal firearms disability, and Judge Peeler, a Warren County Court of Common Pleas Judge, granted the application. Appellee, Appellant's ex-wife, sought a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent Judge Peeler's order from being effective. The court of appeals granted the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellee established the necessary elements for a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Suwalksi v. Peeler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals to the extent it determined that an order of the domestic relations court had improperly modified a divorce decree and was void, holding that any error in the domestic relations court in exercising its jurisdiction in violation of Ohio Rev. Code 3105.171(I) rendered the order voidable, not void.Appellee moved to vacate an order adopted by the domestic relations court that set forth how his federal retirement benefits would be shared with Appellant, his former spouse, asserting that the order had improperly modified the divorce decree's division of marital property. The domestic relations court denied the motion to vacate. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that the domestic relations court lacked jurisdiction to modify the divorce decree. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in determining that the order in this case was void because it modified the prior divorce decree. Rather, the error in the exercise of the court's subject-matter jurisdiction rendered the error voidable, not void ab initio. View "Ostanek v. Ostanek" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 2151.352 is unconstitutionally underinclusive as applied to indigent parents facing the loss of their parental rights in probate court and that indigent parents are entitled to counsel in adoption proceedings in probate court as a matter of equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Ohio Const. art. I, 2.Petitioners filed petitions in the probate court to adopt Mother's two children. Mother filed a request for appointed counsel, which the probate court denied. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of Mother's request for appointed counsel, concluding that equal protection and due process guarantees are inapplicable to requests for appointed counsel in adoption causes brought by private petitioners. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the disparate treatment between indigent parents faced with losing parental rights in a custody proceeding in juvenile court, who are entitled to appointed counsel, and indigent parents faced with losing parental rights in an adoption proceeding in probate court, who are not entitled to appointed counsel, violates equal protection guarantees. View "In re Adoption of Y.E.F." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the court of common pleas, juvenile division, which granted permanent custody of A.M. to the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services (Department), holding that the juvenile court complied with Ohio Rev. Code 2151.414(D)(1).At issue was the statutory requirement that juvenile courts consider the factors set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2151.414(D)(1) for determining a child's best interest before granting a motion filed by a private child-placing agency or a public children-services agency for permanent custody of that child. The magistrate in this case granted the Department permanent custody of A.M., finding that A.M. should not be placed with either parent and that an award of permanent custody to the Department was in A.M.'s best interest. The juvenile court adopted the magistrate's decision. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 2151.414(D)(1) requires a juvenile court to consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of a child in a permanent custody case; and (2) the record demonstrated that the magistrate and the juvenile court considered the statutory factors. View "In re A.M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a trial court need not find a change in circumstances in order to designate a parent the residential parent and legal custodian of a minor child after terminating a shared parenting plan and decree.The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals upholding the decision of the juvenile division of the court of common pleas that terminated a shared parenting plan between Father and Mother and designated Mother as the sole residential and legal custodian of the parties' minor child, holding that, under the plain language of Ohio Rev. Code 3109.04, a trial court is not required to find a change in circumstances but needs only to consider only the best interest of the child when deciding whether the terminate a shared parenting plan and which parent to designate as the residential and custodial parent of a minor child. View "Bruns v. Green" on Justia Law

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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