In re Z.N.T., 031819 OHCA12, CA2018-05-035

Docket Nº:CA2018-05-035
Opinion Judge:M. POWELL, J.
Party Name:IN THE MATTER OF: Z.N.T.
Attorney:Mark J. Tekulve, for appellee Mark A. Humbert, for appellant
Judge Panel:RINGLAND, P.J., and PIPER, J., concur.
Case Date:March 18, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Ohio
 
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2019-Ohio-915

IN THE MATTER OF: Z.N.T.

No. CA2018-05-035

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont

March 18, 2019

APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION Case No. CR2012JH19822

Mark J. Tekulve, for appellee

Mark A. Humbert, for appellant

OPINION

M. POWELL, J.

{¶ 1} Appellant ("Mother") appeals a decision of the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, amending the parties' shared parenting plan and denying her motion for findings of fact and conclusions of law.

{¶ 2} Appellee ("Father") and Mother are the parents of a six-year-old child. The parties were never married. In 2015, the parties entered into a shared parenting plan which was subsequently adopted by the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division (the "juvenile court"), in a Decree of Shared Parenting. Paragraph N of the shared parenting plan provided that "The Clermont County, Ohio Juvenile Court shall not retain jurisdiction to enforce and/or modify any and all provisions of this Shared Parenting Plan in the best interest of the minor child, as provided by law."

{¶ 3} In July 2017, Father moved the juvenile court to find Mother in contempt for failing to comply with the shared parenting plan regarding parenting time. Mother moved to dismiss the motion, arguing that the juvenile court did not have jurisdiction to enforce the shared parenting plan pursuant to paragraph N of the plan. Mother further argued that the child had been living in Hamilton County for the last three years. On September 14, 2017, a juvenile court magistrate granted Mother's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The juvenile court adopted the magistrate's decision that same day. Father never filed objections to the magistrate's September 2017 decision. Subsequently, the parties pursued their parenting dispute in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division.

{¶ 4} In February 2018, while parenting matters were pending in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, Father moved the juvenile court to amend the shared parenting plan and issue a nunc pro tunc decree of shared parenting. Specifically, Father argued that the no jurisdiction language in paragraph N of the shared parenting plan was a nullity and void as against public policy and needed to be corrected by the juvenile court. Mother moved to strike Father's motion, citing paragraph N of the plan. Mother further argued that Father's motion was in essence an untimely Civ.R. 60(B) motion, and that the Hamilton County Juvenile Court had accepted jurisdiction.

{¶ 5} On March 2, 2018, the juvenile court magistrate granted Mother's motion to strike Father's motion. In his decision, the magistrate indicated that upon contacting the Hamilton County Juvenile Court administrative magistrate to discuss the jurisdictional issue between the two courts, the administrative magistrate advised that the Hamilton County Juvenile Court had accepted jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter, had recently held a hearing on the matter, and was scheduled to conduct another hearing in May 2018. In light of the foregoing, the juvenile court magistrate found that the juvenile court "no longer ha[d] jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter herein. The Hamilton County Juvenile Court has accepted and assumed continuing jurisdiction and shall preside over any parenting proceedings henceforth."

{¶ 6} Father filed objections to the juvenile court magistrate's March 2018 decision. The juvenile court held a hearing on Father's objections. By judgment entry filed on April 24, 2018, the juvenile court sustained Father's objections, denied Mother's motion to strike, and amended paragraph N of the shared parenting plan by deleting "the word 'not' before the word 'retain.'" The juvenile court found that paragraph N was inconsistent with the Decree of Shared Parenting and several other provisions of the shared parenting plan which retained the juvenile court's jurisdiction. The court further found that paragraph N was against public policy, as follows: Under the doctrine of parens patriae, courts are entrusted to protect the best interest of children. Although the "law permits parties to voluntarily waive a number of important legal rights * * * a waiver of rights will be recognized only when the waiver does not violate public policy." Parties may not contractually abnegate their right to invoke the continuing jurisdiction of the court over allocations of parental rights and responsibilities. The actions of the parties in inserting, "the continuing jurisdiction" paragraph as presently worded is against public policy. The parents were attempting to contractually abnegate their right to invoke the continuing jurisdiction of the court over the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities in total while attempting to reserve jurisdiction on certain matters.

(Ellipses sic and citations omitted.)

{¶ 7} Mother moved the juvenile court for findings of fact and conclusions of law. Mother argued that the juvenile court's April 24, 2018 judgment entry failed to take into...

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