In re R. B., 012221 OHCA5, 20 CA 004

Docket Nº20 CA 004, 20 CA 005
Opinion JudgeWise, J.
Party NameIN THE MATTER OF: R. B. and A.B.
AttorneyFor Appellant Mother ERIC D. HALL For Appellee HCCS ROBERT K. HENDRIX HOLMES COUNTY PROSECUTOR Guardian Ad Litem MONICA L. MIYASHITA
Judge PanelJUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. By: Wise, J. Hoffman, P. J., and Delaney, J., concur.
Case DateJanuary 22, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeals of Ohio

2021-Ohio-157

IN THE MATTER OF: R. B. and A.B.

Nos. 20 CA 004, 20 CA 005

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Holmes

January 22, 2021

Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case Nos. 18N150 and 18N151

JUDGMENT: Affirmed.

For Appellant Mother ERIC D. HALL

For Appellee HCCS ROBERT K. HENDRIX HOLMES COUNTY PROSECUTOR Guardian Ad Litem MONICA L. MIYASHITA

JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J.

OPINION

Wise, J.

{¶ 1} Appellant-Mother A.R. appeals from the judgment entered in Holmes County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Court Division, which granted legal custody of the minor children R.B. and A.B. to Michael Middleton and Rachel Drake.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

{¶ 2} This appeal pertains to the award of legal custody of the two minor children A.B. (DOB 06-08-17) and R.B. (DOB 08-06-18) of Appellant-Mother A.R. The father of the children is K.B.

{¶ 3} On August 17, 2018, Holmes County Department of Job and Family Services, Children Services, (HCCS) filed Complaints in the Holmes County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, alleging A.B. and R.B. to be Abused, Neglected, and Dependent children. The trial court granted Temporary Custody to HCCS on an interim basis.

{¶ 4} On November 26, 2018, the trial court found A.B. and R.B. to be Neglected children. Neither parent appeared for the Adjudicatory hearing.

{¶ 5} On November 27, 2018, the case came on for Dispositional hearing. The parents did appear for this hearing. The trial court continued Temporary Custody of A.B. and R.B. to HCCS, and ordered the parents to complete a case plan.

{¶ 6} On February 26, 2019, at a ninety (90) day review hearing, the trial court continued Temporary Custody to HCCS while noting that the parents had made little progress on their case plan.

{¶ 7} On May 21, 2019, the trial court held another review hearing. Neither parent appeared. At this time, the trial court granted Temporary Custody of R.B. and A.B. to Michael Middleton and Rachel Drake, who had been caring for the children as foster parents. The trial court granted protective supervision to HCCS.

{¶ 8} On August 20, 2019, at the review hearing, the trial court suspended visits of the parents due to positive drug screens. Each parent was required to submit four (4) consecutive clean screens before being allowed to visit with the children. Additionally, the trial court ordered that visits should occur at the Wayne County Family Home Visitation Center, and that the costs would be paid by Michael Middleton and Rachel Drake.

{¶ 9} On August 26, 2019, HCCS filed a motion seeking the grant of Legal Custody to Michael Middleton and Rachel Drake.

{¶ 10} On October 15, 2019, the trial court held another review hearing. Appellant-Mother A.R. failed to appear for said hearing.

{¶ 11} On December 2, 2019, the HCCS' motion to grant legal custody to Mike Middleton and Rachel Drake came on for hearing. Appellant-Mother neither supported nor opposed the motion at trial, nor did she present any evidence herself. Her attorney only briefly questioned witnesses.

{¶ 12} On January 14, 2020, another hearing was held. Appellant-Mother again failed to appear for said hearing.

{¶ 13} On January 27, 2020, the trial court ruled on the motion for legal custody, granting legal custody to Mike Middleton and Rachel Drake, and closing the case.

{¶ 14} Appellant-Mother now appeals, raising the following assignment of error:

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

{¶ 15} "I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY GRANTING LEGAL CUSTODY OF R.B. AND A.B. TO MICHAEL MIDDLETON AND RACHEL DRAKE WHEN APPELLANT DID NOT CONSENT TO HCCS'S MOTION FOR LEGAL CUSTODY."

I.

{¶ 16} In her sole assignment of error, Appellant-Mother argues the trial court erred in awarding legal custody of the minor children to Michael Middleton and Rachel Drake. We disagree.

{¶ 17} R.C. §2151.353(A) provides, in pertinent part: If a child is adjudicated an abused, neglected, or dependent child, the court may make any of the following orders of disposition:

Award legal custody of the child to either parent or to any other person who, prior to the dispositional hearing, files a motion requesting legal custody of the child or is identified as a proposed legal custodian in a complaint or motion filed prior to the dispositional hearing by any party to the proceedings.

{¶ 18} The touchstone of a dispositional order, including legal custody after a finding of neglect and dependency, is that the order be in the child's best interest. In re Nice (2001), 141 Ohio App.3d 445, 455, 751 N.E.2d 552. A trial court "must have wide latitude in considering all the evidence" and a custody decision will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Davis v. Flickinger, 77 Ohio St.3d 415, 418, 674 N.E.2d 1159, citing Miller v. Miller, 37 Ohio St.3d 71, 74, 523 N.E.2d 846 (1988). An abuse of discretion is more than error of law or judgment; the term connotes that the court's attitude is arbitrary, unreasonable or unconscionable. Blakemore v. Blakemore (1983), 5 Ohio...

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