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TPR – Harmless Error

Waukesha County DH&HS v. Michelle P., 2009AP1087, District 2, 8/25/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Michelle P.: Eileen A. Hirsch, SPD , Madison Appellate

Authority of the local department to suspend visitation without judicial approval is an “interesting” issue, but one that need not be reached under these facts because the error if any was harmless:

¶11 We point out that, under Wis. Stat. § 805.18(2), circuit court findings may only be set aside if there is an error that has “affected the substantial rights of the party seeking to reverse.” For an error to affect the substantial rights of a party, there must be a reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the outcome of the proceeding. Evelyn C.R. v. Tykila S., 2001 WI 110, ¶28, 246 Wis. 2d 1, 629 N.W.2d 768. Because visitation issues were not central to the termination of Michelle P.’s parental rights under § 48.415(2), and because she failed to complete so many conditions that shecould have completed without visitation, we agree with the trial court that, even assuming the denial of visitation was unlawful, it was harmless error.

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