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TPR – Best Interests Determination

State v. Elizabeth M., 2012AP454, District 1, 5/1/12

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Elizabeth M.: Jeffrey W. Jensen; case activity

The court rejects Elizabeth M.’s argument that the trial court erroneously exercised discretion in favor of terminating of parental rights:

¶30      Basically, Elizabeth M. argues for a second chance.  She testified that she now wants to raise John G., even though she:  (1) is still on probation; (2) is living with her boyfriend and five children; (3) has an unstable financial situation; and (4) has shown little interest in bonding with John G.  In short, her interest in caring for John G. comes too little too late.

¶31      All of the statutory factors clearly support the trial court’s decision to terminate Elizabeth M.’s parental rights.  As the State and GAL correctly point out, the TPR best-interests analysis focuses on John G.’s best interests, not Elizabeth M.’s.  A child needs a permanent, loving placement to thrive.  John G. has that with his foster mother.  The record shows that John G.’s best interests clearly lie with termination.

¶32      We conclude that the trial court made a reasoned decision based on undisputed facts in the record and properly concluded that it was in John G.’s best interests that Elizabeth M.’s parental rights be terminated.

(Facts and applicable law discussed at some length in the opinion. The court stresses that neither Elizabeth M. nor any family members “has had any kind of relationship with John G.” since birth, whereas child “has bonded” with foster mother, who wants to adopt him, ¶¶16-26.)

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