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COA affirms TPR based on best interests of the child

State v. M.P.H.-R., 2021AP1628, 11/23/21, District 1 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

M.P.H.-R gave birth to A.S.H. in 2011 when she was just 14 years old. Since then both mother and daughter have suffered mental health problems. They lived together briefly twice over the intervening 10 years. Otherwise, for 7 years A.S.H. has lived with a foster family.  The trial court terminated M.P.H.-R.’s parental rights based on §48.426(3)‘s “best interests of the child” factors. The court of appeals affirmed.

As usual, it is hard to say what M.P.H.-R argued on appeal because On Point does not have access to the briefs.  Also as usual, the court of appeals asserts that the appellant has asked it to reweigh the evidence of the child’s best interests. This allows the court of appeals affirm without much analysis:

¶24 . . . M.P.H.-R.’s arguments generally express her wish that the trial court had given more weight to evidence she views as favorable to her, such as the bonding assessment, as opposed to other evidence that supported the termination of her parental rights, such as the length of time A.S.H. had been in foster care, the failure of the trial unification, the fact that A.S.H. would likely stay in foster care without termination, and the willingness of the foster parent and her husband to adopt A.S.H., giving her a permanent home.

¶25 However, the weight given to the evidence relating to the factors is within the discretion of the trial court. See State v. Margaret H., 234 Wis. 2d 606, ¶35. The record indicates that as the trial court considered the required statutory factors, it weighed the evidence in this case in relation to those factors, and ultimately determined that the termination of M.P.H.-R.’s parental rights was in the best interest of A.S.H. Therefore, the court properly exercised its discretion, see id., ¶32, and, accordingly, we affirm its order terminating the parental rights of M.P.H.-R. to A.S.H.



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