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Government & Politics

Supreme Court Reaches Controversial Decision in Willful Abandonment Case

Photo of the Ohio Supreme Court's main courtroom
JO INGLES
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Ohio Supreme Court has decided a tough case that involving two young parents, which will likely mean a 2-year-old child will be taken from the Tennessee family he’s lived with since birth.

The mother had been clear that the adoption was to happen immediately after the child’s birth in Butler County. She and the father had had only sporadic contact, and there was no financial support.

The father sued for custody, but two lower courts said he had willfully abandoned the mother. Now the Ohio Supreme Court has reversed that.

In arguments last month, the father’s attorney Michaela Stagnaro, said she understands how difficult this is for the adoptive family.

“But we also understand that my child, as a parent, has a fundamental right to the care and support of the child.”

The Ohio Supreme Court said everyone in this case has the child’s best interests at heart and the options are imperfect. But the justices ruled that willful abandonment is more than a lack of financial support, so the father’s consent would be necessary for the adoption to proceed.