Constitutional Law

Top state court says minor doesn't have right to attend her parents' child-custody case

A juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it decided that a teenager identified as “A.G.” could not be present during arguments in her parents’ contentious child-custody case, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Although the juvenile court had granted the teen’s motion to be treated as a party in the case, it did not allow her to attend a hearing along with her attorney, reports the Blade. This was a decision the Ottawa County Juvenile Court had the power to make, a four-judge majority ruled (PDF).

Justice William O’Neill was one of two dissenting judges. He agreed that the juvenile court wasn’t required by law to allow a minor party in the courtroom, but said it should have done so in this case.

“Here, the evidence clearly demonstrates that the child’s best interest was subordinated to the wishes of the litigious parents and their lawyers,” O’Neill wrote. “And even though the trial court accepted her motion to be treated as a party, and even though A.G.’s attorney was present throughout the proceedings, A.G. herself was excluded from the hearings where her very future was at stake.”

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