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Court didn’t erroneously exercise discretion in terminating parental rights

Waushara County DHS v. A.J.P., 2019AP2387, District 4, 4/13/20 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

The circuit court properly exercised its discretion by considering all the factors under § 48.426(3) when it decided to terminate A.J.P.’s parental rights.

A.J.P. asserts the circuit court failed to consider three factors in particular—age and health of the child; the substantial relationships with family members and the harm of severing those relationships; and the child’s wishes, § 48.426(3)(b), (c), and (d). The court of appeals finds there was evidence of these factors in the record and that the circuit court discussed them, at least implicitly. (¶¶7-13).

The court of appeals acknowledges that the circuit court’s dispositional ruling “was not long, referenced considerations more pertinent to the grounds phase, and did not explicitly reference each factor in Wis. Stat. § 48.426(3)” and “that it would have been a better practice for the court to have explicitly addressed each of the sub. (3) factors on the record, briefly summarized the relevant evidence regarding each factor, and explained in some manner how much weight it gave to each factor.” (¶14). Despite those failings, the court of appeals can’t conclude the circuit court was completely unaware of the statutory factors.

 

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