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Published: Thursday, 10/7/2010

Ohio Supreme Court affirms Swanton man's right to biological son


COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court said Thursday it will not reconsider an earlier decision that allowed a Swanton man to have custody of his biological son.

The ruling appears to pave the way for Benjamin Wyrembek to be united with his nearly 3-year-old son, who has been raised since birth by an Indiana couple who were attempting to adopt the child.

Mr. Wyrembek's attorney, Alan Lehenbauer, contended that his client had followed all the appropriate legal procedures to obtain custody of his son after learning a former girlfriend was pregnant with his child. Mr. Wyrembek registered with Ohio's Putative Father Registry and filed a petition in juvenile court to establish paternity and obtain custody of the child.

Still, nearly three years have elapsed while he battled in court with his son's adoptive parents, Jason and Christy Vaughn of Sellersburg, Ind.

"The father of a child who registers with the Putative Father Registry in a timely fashion and who pursues a juvenile court determination of parentage cannot control either the timing of the juvenile court's decision or the timing of the filing of a petition to adopt by prospective adoptive parents," Justice Terrence O'Donnell wrote in Thursday's decision.

"I would urge juvenile courts to give priority to parentage cases and decide them with dispatch. I would also encourage the General Assembly to carefully scrutinize our case law and revisit these statutes to clarify its intent if contrary to our result," the justice wrote.

Attorneys for the two sides could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

A Facebook page maintained by friends of the Vaughns indicated that Mr. Wyrembek began visitation with his son in Indiana late last month after the two sides agreed to participate in mediation to help resolve the case.

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