Latitude In Considering All the Evidence In Custody Cases

Because custody issues are some of the most difficult and agonizing decisions a trial judge must make, he or she must have wide latitude in considering all the evidence and such decision must not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Davis v. Flickinger (1997), 77 Ohio St.3d 415, 418, 1997 Ohio 260, 674 N.E.2d 1159. In Bechtol v. Bechtol (1990), 49 Ohio St.3d 21, 550 N.E.2d 178, the Ohio Supreme Court held: "Where an award of custody is supported by a substantial amount of credible and competent evidence, such an award will not be reversed as being against the weight of the evidence by a reviewing court." Id. at syllabus. The reason for this standard of review "is that the trial judge has the best opportunity to view the demeanor, attitude, and credibility of each witness, something that does not translate well on the written page." Davis, supra at 418. "A reviewing court should not reverse a decision simply because it holds a different opinion concerning the credibility of the witnesses and evidence submitted before the trial court. a finding of an error in law is a legitimate ground for reversal, but a difference of opinion on credibility of witnesses and evidence is not." Seasons Coal Co. v. Cleveland (1984), 10 Ohio St.3d 77, 81, 10 Ohio B. 408, 461 N.E.2d 1273.