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Rowe v. Franklin

Court of Appeals of Ohio
663 N.E.2d 955 (1995)


Kimberly Rowe (plaintiff) and Donald Franklin (defendant) were married for four years and had a son. In order to procure a divorce when Franklin refused to leave the marital home, Rowe moved out with the then three-year-old child in December 1991. While the divorce proceedings were pending, the court ordered that neither parent remove the child from Ohio unless permitted by the court or agreed to by the parents. Rowe was forced to seek temporary housing until 1992, when she moved to Kentucky for her job with the National Guard. The child apparently went with her. In March 1993, Rowe began seeing a man who was married but separated. In May 1993, she became pregnant. In the summer, she began law school classes and enrolled her son in a private school for the times that she would be in class. In September, she moved the trial court to allow the child to establish residency with her in Kentucky. Franklin moved the court to find Rowe in contempt. The court denied Rowe’s motion and held the contempt motion in abeyance pending completion of a custody investigation. The court eventually awarded physical and legal custody to Franklin, who was unemployed. Although the statutory factors reviewed by the court favored both parents equally, the court’s ultimate decision was based on a comparison between the environments and lifestyles of the parents. The court concluded that the child had stronger ties to his Ohio hometown despite evidence that he was thriving in Kentucky. The court also questioned Rowe’s stability on account of her frequent moves and romantic relationship. Finally, the court suggested that Rowe’s focus on her career and education was shortchanging the child’s well-being. Despite the court’s conclusions, there was no evidence that Rowe’s actions had detrimentally impacted the child. Rowe appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Gorman, J.)

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