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TPR – Grounds

Walworth County DH&HS v. Andrea O., 2010AP2938, District 2, 2/23/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Andrea O.:  Suzanne L. Hagopian, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

Evidence supported jury verdict on abandonment as to grounds for terminating parental rights, as against claim of good cause (incarceration) for conceded failure to communicate with the child.

¶8        The record reflects that Andrea may have sent a letter to her caseworker, Gering, in May 2008, while incarcerated.  She was then transferred to different correctional institutions and from June 24, 2008, until September 24, 2008—a ninety-three day period—Andrea did not initiate contact or communication with her caseworker or, as a result, Nevaeh.  Gering testified that Andrea initiated contact again in October 2008 and confirmed that “it ha[d] been about six months with no contact from her whatsoever.”  Gering testified that during Andrea’s incarceration there was nothing that prohibited her from contacting or communicating with the department.

Deannia D. v. Lamont D., 2005 WI App 264, 288 Wis. 2d 485, 709 N.W.2d 879 (child’s age made direct communicaiton impossible), distinguished:

¶12 … Unlike the facts presented in Deannia, the jury in this case was not faced with conflicting testimony regarding attempts to communicate or a parent’s belief that a third party was conveying the content of communication.  Andrea conceded that she had not communicated with Nevaeh for a three-month period and there was credible evidence from which the jury could infer that this was not the result of her belief that Nevaeh’s age would render the communication meaningless.

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