In re N.F., NO. 8-19-39

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtPRESTON, J.
Citation151 N.E.3d 119,2019 Ohio 5380
Parties IN RE: the ADOPTION OF: N.F., [John M. Rhoades - Appellant] In re: the Adoption of: Z.F., [John M. Rhoades - Appellant]
Decision Date30 December 2019
Docket Number NO. 8-19-40,NO. 8-19-39

151 N.E.3d 119
2019 Ohio 5380

IN RE: the ADOPTION OF: N.F.,

[John M. Rhoades - Appellant]

In re: the Adoption of: Z.F.,

[John M. Rhoades - Appellant]

NO. 8-19-39
NO. 8-19-40

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Logan County.

Date of Decision: December 30, 2019


Alison Boggs, Marysville, for Appellant

Jerry M. Johnson, Lima, for Appellee

Ruth T. Kelly, Amicus Curiae, Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

PRESTON, J.

{¶1} Appellant, John M. Rhoades ("Rhoades"), appeals the June 19, 2019 judgments of the Logan County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, in which the court found that his consent is not required for the adoption of his biological children,1 N.F. and Z.F., by Appellee, Christian T. Fogle ("Fogle"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

{¶2} On January 4, 2019, Fogle filed petitions to adopt his minor stepchildren, N.F. and Z.F. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 1); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 1). The petitions alleged that Rhoades's consent is not required for the adoptions. (Id. ); (Id. ). Kayla M. Fogle ("Kayla"), the children's biological mother, filed her consent for the adoptions on the same day. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 3); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 3).

{¶3} On January 22, 2019, service of the notices of the hearing on consent was made on Rhoades. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 17); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 17). Rhoades appeared at the consent hearing on March 18, 2019 and orally objected to the petition for adoption. (Mar. 18, 2019 Tr. at 4). After determining that Rhoades failed to file an objection to the proposed adoption within 14 days after receiving notice of the filing of the petitions for adoption and the time and place of the hearing on the petitions, the trial court found that Rhoades's consent is not necessary for the adoptions. (Id. at 13-16). The trial court filed its judgment entries reflecting its finding that Rhoades's consent is not required on April 2, 2019. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 20); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 20).

{¶4} On April 26, 2019, Rhoades filed written objections to the adoptions of N.F. and Z.F. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 28); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 28). That same day, Rhoades filed a motion to consider additional evidence in which he argued that the trial court's finding that his consent to the adoptions is not required violated his due process rights. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 26); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 26). On May 8, 2019, Fogle filed a motion to strike Rhoades's objections to the adoptions because they were filed untimely. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. Nos. 34, 36); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. Nos. 34, 36). That same day, Fogle also filed an objection to Rhoades's motion to consider additional evidence. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc.

151 N.E.3d 124

Nos. 35, 37); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. Nos. 35, 37).

{¶5} On May 16, 2019, a pretrial was held in chambers. (See Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 40); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 39). Following the pretrial, the trial court ordered that the attorneys file briefs on the issue of whether Rhoades's consent is necessary. (Id. ); (Id. ). On May 29, 2019, Fogle and Rhoades filed their respective briefs. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. Nos. 43, 44, 45); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. Nos. 42, 43, 44). On June 19, 2019, the trial court filed its judgment entries finding that Rhoades's consent to the adoptions is not required. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 48); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 47).

{¶6} Rhoades filed his notices of appeal on July 15, 2019. (Case No. 19AD-01, Doc. No. 56); (Case No. 19AD-02, Doc. No. 55). He raises two assignments of error, which we address together.

Assignment of Error No. I

Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.07(K) violates the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to appellant's case and others similarly situated, by arbitrarily denying appellant equal protection and his due process right to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner on the petition for adoption.

Assignment of Error No. II

The hearing notice contained in Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.11(B) violates appellant's Constitutional right to due process as the notice provision is confusing, misleading and inaccurate.

{¶7} In his first assignment of error, Rhoades argues that R.C. 3107.07(K) is unconstitutional because it arbitrarily denies those given notice of a petition for adoption pursuant to R.C. 3107.11(A)(1) equal protection and a due process right to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner on the petition for adoption. In his second assignment of error, Rhoades argues that the hearing notice contained in R.C. 3107.11(B) is unconstitutional because it is confusing, misleading, and inaccurate. For the reasons that follow, we disagree.

{¶8} In Ohio, certain persons and entities must consent to an adoption, including the father of the minor child. In re T.L.S. , 12th Dist. Fayette No. CA2012-02-004, 2012-Ohio-3129, 2012 WL 2708307, ¶ 8, citing R.C. 3107.06. However, the General Assembly carved out exceptions to the consent requirement. Those exceptions are found in R.C. 3107.07. One of the exceptions applies if a person or entity whose consent to the adoption is required fails to file an objection to the petition for adoption within 14 days after that person or entity receives notice of the petition and of the hearing on the petition:

Consent to adoption is not required of any of the following:

* * *

(K) Except as provided in divisions (G) and (H) of this section, a juvenile court, agency, or person given notice of the petition pursuant to division (A)(1) of section 3107.11 of the Revised Code that fails to file an objection to the petition within fourteen days after proof is filed pursuant to division (B) of that section that the notice was given * * *.

R.C. 3107.07(K). See also In re T.L.S. at ¶ 10.

{¶9} R.C. 3107.07(K) cross-references the notice required by R.C. 3107.11(A)(1). That statute requires that the trial court fix a time and place for a hearing on a petition for adoption after the petition is filed. It also requires that the trial court, at least twenty days before the hearing,

151 N.E.3d 125

give notice of the filing of the petition and of the hearing to, among others, any person whose consent is required under R.C. Chapter 3107 and who has not consented:

(A) After the filing of a petition to adopt an adult or a minor, the court shall fix a time and place for hearing the petition. The hearing may take place at any time more than thirty days after the date on which the minor is placed in the home of the petitioner. At least twenty days before the date of the hearing, notice of the filing of the petition and of the time and place of hearing shall be given by the court to all of the following:

(1) Any juvenile court, agency, or person whose consent to the adoption is required by this chapter but who has not consented;

* * *

Notice shall not be given to a person whose consent is not required as provided by division (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), or (J) of section 3107.07, or section 3107.071, of the Revised Code. Second notice shall not be given to a juvenile court, agency, or person whose consent is not required as provided by division (K) of section 3107.07 of the Revised Code because the court, agency, or person failed to file an objection to the petition within fourteen days after proof was filed pursuant to division (B) of this section that a first notice was given to the court, agency, or person pursuant to division (A)(1) of this section.

R.C. 3107.11. As R.C. 3107.07(K) provides, if a person does not object within 14 days after receiving the notice required by 3107.11(A)(1), his or her consent to the adoption is no longer required.

{¶10} R.C. 3107.07(K) also cross-references R.C. 3107.11(B), which, according to R.C. 3107.07(K), governs the filing of proof that notice was given. The current version of R.C. 3107.11(B), however, does not address filing proof of notice and instead sets forth the language a court's notice must contain if the petition for adoption alleges that a parent failed without justifiable cause to provide for the maintenance and support of the minor or more than de minimis contact with the minor.

{¶11} We review de novo the determination of a statute's constitutionality. State v. Hudson , 3d Dist. Marion, 2013-Ohio-647, 986 N.E.2d 1128, ¶ 27, citing Akron v. Callaway , 162 Ohio App.3d 781, 2005-Ohio-4095, 835 N.E.2d 736, ¶ 23 (9th Dist.) and Andreyko v. Cincinnati , 153 Ohio App.3d 108, 2003-Ohio-2759, 791 N.E.2d 1025, ¶ 11 (1st Dist.). "De novo review is independent, without deference to the lower court's decision." Id. , citing Ohio Bell Tel. Co. v. Pub. Util. Comm. of Ohio , 64 Ohio St.3d 145, 147, 593 N.E.2d 286 (1992).

{¶12} " ‘It is difficult to prove that a statute is unconstitutional.’ " State v. Stoffer , 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 26268, 2015-Ohio-352, 2015 WL 409265, ¶ 8, quoting Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson , 116 Ohio St.3d 468, 2007-Ohio-6948, 880 N.E.2d 420, ¶ 25. " ‘All statutes have a strong presumption of constitutionality. * * * Before a court may declare unconstitutional an enactment of the legislative branch, "it must appear beyond a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 practice notes
  • In re Adoption of E.H.D., Case No. 2020CA00097
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 21 Octubre 2020
    ...violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. {¶17} In re Adoption of N.F., 3rd Dist. No. 8-19-39, 2019-Ohio-5380, 151 N.E.3d 119, ¶¶ 19-23. {¶18} We concur with the reasoning of the Third District R.C. 3107.07(K) does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amen......
  • Erickson v. Morrison, No. 19CA18
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 30 Diciembre 2019
    ...of the previous action" and found that the "1 Restatement of the Law 2d Judgments (1982), Sections 24—25[are] approved and adopted." 151 N.E.3d 119 Grava, 73 Ohio St.3d 379, 653 N.E.2d 226 at syllabus. In Grava, a property owner filed an initial application for zoning for a proposed busines......
2 cases
  • In re Adoption of E.H.D., Case No. 2020CA00097
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 21 Octubre 2020
    ...violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. {¶17} In re Adoption of N.F., 3rd Dist. No. 8-19-39, 2019-Ohio-5380, 151 N.E.3d 119, ¶¶ 19-23. {¶18} We concur with the reasoning of the Third District R.C. 3107.07(K) does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amen......
  • Erickson v. Morrison, No. 19CA18
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 30 Diciembre 2019
    ...of the previous action" and found that the "1 Restatement of the Law 2d Judgments (1982), Sections 24—25[are] approved and adopted." 151 N.E.3d 119 Grava, 73 Ohio St.3d 379, 653 N.E.2d 226 at syllabus. In Grava, a property owner filed an initial application for zoning for a proposed busines......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT