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COA affirms TPR, rejects father’s “love of his children” argument

State v. R.T., 2023AP1095 & 2023AP1096, District I, 9/12/23, 1-judge decision ineligible for publication; case activity (briefs not available)

R.T. (“Richard”) pled no contest to grounds but disputed whether his parental rights should be terminated at disposition. Specifically, Richard argued that “there was no support in the record for the court’s finding that it was in the children’s best interests that his parental rights be terminated.” The court of appeals disagrees, noting “there was ample support in the record for the court’s decision.” (Op., ¶15). 

According to the court of appeals, Richard made three specific arguments regarding the circuit court’s decision to terminate his parental rights: (1) that the court did not “account sufficiently account for his love for his children and his desire for their return when he was out of jail;” (2) that the court did not give weight to “his desire to have his mother or sister gain custody or placement of the children;” and (3) that the court did not give sufficient weight to “the efforts he previously made to improve his circumstances and his efforts to continue as a significant factor in his children’s lives.” The problem with Richard’s arguments is that they focus on his love for his children, his desire to have his family maintain custody or placement, and his efforts to stay involved in his childrens’ lives. (Op., ¶16-18 ).

The court of appeals rejects Richard’s arguments because the focus at disposition is the best interests of the child. Further, the circuit court considered the evidence put forth by the state in support of each statutory factor and found that termination of Rirchard’s parental rights was in the best interest of his children. (Op., ¶¶5-11).

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