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Dane Co. DHS v. Lamont B., 2011AP1750, District 4, 10/27/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Lamont B.: Ann T. Bowe; case activity

The trial court properly exercised discretion in terminating parental rights, rather than dismissing the petition and transferring guardianship of the children to their foster parents pursuant to §§ 48.977(2) and § 48.427(3m)(c).

¶6        Six factors must be satisfied for a court to appoint a guardian under Wis. Stat. § 48.977(2).  As noted above, the only factor Lamont B. challenges is set forth in § 48.977(2)(d), whether it is in the children’s best interests to terminate a parent’s rights.  Lamont B.’s argument does not address this factor; rather, Lamont B. narrowly focuses on one of the reasons the court gave for not appointing either foster parent as a guardian.

¶7        In any event, we reject Lamont B.’s assertion that the circuit court rested its decision not to appoint a guardian for the children only on the one ground.  It is readily apparent, from a close reading of the transcript of the court’s oral ruling, that the court had seriously considered Lamont B.’s proposal to transfer guardianship. Lamont B. is correct when he argues that the court was concerned that should the foster parents be appointed guardians, that Lamont B. and Lakitta would likely interfere with the care of the children.  Lamont B., however, ignores the court’s core reason for not appointing a guardian, namely that, in the court’s view, no conceivable circumstances existed, “using the law and the resources available … through the [Dane County] Department of Human Services, that could result in a situation” where Lamont B. would once again have custody and control of the children without government intervention.  Lamont B. does not point to any evidence or any reason that would undermine the court’s conclusion.

Separately: termination was a proper exercise of discretion. “However, even by his own admissions, Lamont B. is not, and likely will never be, able to be a full-time parent for his children and be in a position where he can provide the daily nurturing and care that they deserve.  As the circuit court found, the children need permanency and stability in their lives and Lisa B. and Kara A. have been very successful in providing that for the children,” ¶12.

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