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Placing children with their maternal grandfather was not in their best interests

State v. C.L.H., 2017AP1278-1280, 9/6/17, District 1; (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

A circuit court terminated C.L.H.’s parental rights to her biological children, A.L.H., H.H. and M.J.H. The sole issue on appeal was whether the circuit court’s refusal to place the kids with C.H. (their maternal grandfather) and E.B. (his fiancée) amounted to an erroneous exercise of discretion.  The court of appeals said “no.”

¶20 In the first place, the trial court had, in making its determination, recognized the importance of the relationship between C.H. and E.B. and the children.  In fact, the children had initially been placed with C.H. and E.B. when they were detained by BMCW.  However, this placement lasted only a matter of days before C.H. and E.B. requested that the children be placed elsewhere after recognizing that the children needed “support services” for their behavioral problems, and because E.B. was seriously ill.

¶21 In its decision, the trial court indicated that it was “unfortunate” that the boys were not placed together.  Moreover, the court noted that E.B. “understands the boys and understands the family dynamic very well,” and that this may have been a viable placement consideration but for other circumstances.  Specifically, the trial court observed that C.H. had problems with alcohol, and at the time of the disposition was incarcerated for his third operating while intoxicated (OWI) conviction.  Furthermore, the court recognized that there had been some instability in C.H. and E.B.’s relationship which had resulted in the filing of a domestic violence injunction by E.B. against C.H.  There was also evidence that C.H. had a criminal history from several years ago that involved a weapons charge.  Additionally, the trial court noted that E.B. was recovering from a significant health issue, but suggested that she could continue to be a support person for the children.

¶22 For all of these reasons, the trial court found that placement of the children with C.H. and E.B. was not a suitable resolution.  It further stated that it was not appropriate to delay the TPR proceedings to continue to work on these placement issues because the behavioral problems of the older boys would be exacerbated by prolonging the uncertainty of their situations.

 

 

 

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