Mareza L. v. Kim M.P., 2013AP1382, District 1, 4/1/14; court of appeals decision (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity
The plain language of § 48.46(2) limits the time for any motion to reopen a judgment terminating parental rights, regardless of the grounds for the motion. Thus, even though Mareza now claims her voluntary termination was not, in fact, voluntary, her failure to bring a motion to reopen the judgment within the statute’s time limits means the circuit court properly denied the motion. (¶¶14-17).
Nor may Mareza pursue relief under § 806.07(1)(h), a catch-all provision allowing the reopening of civil judgments for “[a]ny other reasons justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” While § 48.46(2) lists § 806.07(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), and (f) as available grounds for reopening a termination judgment, it specifically omits § 806.07(1)(h) from the list. “Presumably, the legislature purposefully omitted such an open-ended provision to promote the finality of voluntary terminations and thus secure placements and adoptions of children.” (¶22).
In any event, the circuit court properly found that Mareza’s initial voluntary consent to terminate was indeed voluntary. (¶¶18-21).