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COA rejects claim that court terminated parental rights due to father’s learning disability

State v. J.W., 2020AP161, 5/12/20, District 1 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

At the grounds phase of his TPR proceeding J.W. stipulated to the “failure to assume parental responsibility” reason for terminating his parental rights. On appeal he argued that at the trial court erroneously determined that he was unlikely to meet the conditions of return due to a learning disability.

During the disposition phase a family case manager testified that J.W. had a learning disability, but Children’s Hospital was still able to work with him despite, and he had managed to complete two parts of a three-part parenting program. Opinion, ¶13.

The court of appeals walked through the 6 “best interests of the child” factors and applied them to the facts of this case.  In its view, J.W. had taken stray comments about his learning disability blown them out of proportion. It thus affirmed.

¶35 As stated, J.W. does not argue that the trial court failed to consider and analyze the six required statutory factors. He 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 Mable K., 346 Wis. 2d 396, ¶39. Rather, J.W. has constructed an argument based on a few stray words to challenge the weight that the trial court afforded to each of the required factors in determining the harm caused by the termination of his parental rights. 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 J.W.’s parental rights was in the best interests of R.W. See id. Therefore, we affirm.

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