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COA affirms TPR on grounds and dispo

State v. D.Q., 2020AP1109, 9/22/20, District 1 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

D.Q. fathered a child, K.C., with a woman here called N.E.C. D.Q. wasn’t involved with K.C. for three years after her birth; he had reason to suspect he was the father but did not seek to confirm this by testing. During that time, K.C. was taken from N.E.C.’s home for various intervals via CHIPS proceeding. N.E.C. also became involved with another man who played a substantial part in caring for K.C.

Eventually the state sought termination of both N.E.C.’s and D.Q.’s parental rights, alleging continuing CHIPs as the ground. Both pleaded no contest and the court held a prove-up hearing. The court found both unfit, and ultimately terminated their rights to K.C. D.Q. appeals.

Per the opinion D.Q. argues that the conditions for return imposed by the CHIPS order were impossible for him to meet, citing Kenosha Cty. DHS v. Jodie W., 2006 WI 93, 293 Wis. 2d 530, 716 N.W.2d 845. The court of appeals disagrees:

Following Jodie W.’s lead and taking into account D.Q.’s circumstances and particular needs, this court concludes that it was not impossible for D.Q. to satisfy the court-ordered conditions or for the responsible agency (here the DMCPS) to provide him services. As Ms. Ahles testified, D.Q. was aware of K.C.’s existence from the time of her birth but was not a part of K.C.’s life until she was nearly three and a half years old. Her testimony also showed that during D.Q.’s extended absence, K.C. was exposed to domestic violence and substance abuse at the hands of N.E.C. and that K.C. spent the majority of her life in foster care. Ms. Ahles testimony shows that no services were provided to D.Q. until recently because he was entirely absent from K.C.’s life. Any impossibility in D.Q.’s ability to satisfy the court-ordered conditions or to receive services from DMCPS was of his own doing. He maintained no contact with K.C. and did not make himself available to be a part of her life, as the conditions required. The conditions imposed on D.Q. could not have been any more narrowly tailored to meet his circumstances when the circumstance was that D.Q. chose not to be part of K.C.’s life.

(¶29).

D.Q. also claims the court erroneously exercised its discretion in deciding termination was in K.C.’s best interest. The court doesn’t tell us what the argument is, and it simply runs through the circuit court’s application of the statutory factors en route to upholding its decision. (¶¶32-36).

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