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COA affirms trial court’s termination of parental rights based on the of the best interests of the child

State v. K.K.E., 2019AP115-117; 9/24/19, District 1 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

The trial court terminated K.K.E.’s parental rights based on the best interests of her three daughters. On appeal, K.K.E. conceded that the trial court addressed the 6 “best interests of the child” factors required by §48.426(3). But she challenged the weight the trial court assigned to each factor. In affirming, the court of appeals explains how a trial court’s weighing of these factors is virtually unassailable on appeal.

¶45 The trial court’s weighing of the statutory factors in WIS. STAT. § 48.426 is inherent in its exercise of discretion. What K.K.E. actually contests is the trial court’s conclusion and reasoning based on its consideration of the relevant factors. Essentially, K.K.E. disagrees with the way the trial court weighed the relevant factors.

¶46 K.K.E. does not challenge the trial court’s factual findings and she concedes that the trial court considered and analyzed the six required statutory factors. She also failed to demonstrate that the trial court did not apply a proper standard of law or use a demonstrated rational process to reach a conclusion that a reasonable judge could reach. See [Dane County DHS v. Mable K. 2013 WI 28, ¶39, 346 Wis. 2d 396, 828 N.W.2d 198]. Rather, K.K.E. is challenging the weight that the trial court afforded to each of the required factors in determining the harm caused by the termination of her parental rights. However, the weight afforded to a particular factor is left to the trial court’s discretion so long as it satisfied the requisites for the exercise of its discretion. See [State v. Margaret H., 2000 WI 42, ¶¶29, 35, 234 Wis. 2d 606, 610 N.W.2d 475]. Based on our review of the trial court’s findings, its application of the relevant law, and its demonstrated rational process, we conclude that the trial court properly exercised its discretion deciding that termination of K.K.E.’s parental rights was in the best interests of each daughter. See Mable K., 346 Wis. 2d 396, ¶39. Therefore, we affirm

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