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Ohio Supreme Court orders child returned to mother in Arizona

In this current era, life often happens outside of the boundaries of our home town. Moving from one state to another isn’t a rare occurrence, and when parents decide that they don’t want to live together anymore or at all, they may live in different cities or states. In other cases, a single parent may ask for help from a grandparent in another state.

Approximately four years ago, a single mom decided that it was best for her and her child to live in Arizona. She moved there, but still visited her parents in Ohio. In 2012, on a visit to Ohio, the mom left the 5-year-old child in the care of her mother while she returned home for an interview. While she was away, the child’s paternal grandfather sought custody of the child.

According to court documents, the paternal grandfather had filed a request for temporary custody of the child in Sandusky Juvenile Court. The court granted this request, and wrote that the child would remain in the grandfather’s custody “until a full and fair hearing may be held.”

The mother contested the order, and the issue was taken up by the Ohio Court of Appeals. This court ruled that under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the trial court had the authority to make the decision that it did. When the case made it all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court, this court found issues with the original order.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the trial court had failed to communicate with the Arizona court about the alleged emergency situation that required the temporary custody. On top of this issue, was the fact that the trial court’s determination that the temporary custody would last “until a full and fair hearing may be held” was insufficient and would result in the child being away from the mother during the child’s formative years, an issue that was heightened in this case by the fact that the child was autistic. The court ordered that the child be returned to the mother.

With the changing definition of family, grandparents are often asked to step in to help in a child custody situation. The parent may have even asked for the help, but their assistance does not automatically alter the rights of the parent. A family law attorney can help when a dispute arises under these or similar circumstances.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Grandfather Shouldn’t Have Won Custody,” Jeff D. Gorman, Dec. 24, 2013

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