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Father protects daughter from abuse, held in contempt

No one denies that child custody litigation in Ohio is often an arduous process. Sometimes a litigant thinks he or she has done everything according to the law only to be told they have violated an order they did not understand. This may be the case for a Portage County father who thought he had done everything by the book, but he is now facing contempt charges in juvenile court for technically not honoring an order he thought no longer applied.

The mother and father shared child custody due to a prior court order filed in the juvenile court. Last summer, the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services found that the mother had physically abused and her current boyfriend had sexually abused the 4-year-old child. The father obtained an order of protection from Portage County Domestic Relations Court that banned the mother from seeing the child. Armed with the court order, the father did not allow the mother to see the child for two months, until he wound up back in juvenile court during a September custody hearing. There, the judge said the man had no authority to violate the rules of the prior custody agreement.

The judge ruled the man must allow the child to spend time at the mother's home, and he also denied the father's request for an emergency hearing to grant him full custody. The judge instead set Dec. 5 sentencing date for the contempt charge.

While the judge may have been technically correct to rule solely on the return of custody proceeding, it is also true he could have allowed the father to present evidence of the abuse. The litigation underscores the complexity of these matters in Ohio and the need for parties involved to confer with an attorney fully experienced with relevant law and procedure.

Source: News Channel 5, "Portage County father says he could go to jail for trying to protect his daughter," Sarah Buduson, Oct. 30, 2011

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