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Court of appeals: no error in TPR disposition phase

Dane County DHS v. S.C., 2016AP1787, 11/17/16, District 4 (1-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

S.C. appeals the termination of her parental rights to her daughter D.C. She pled to a continuing CHIPS ground; she challenges only the circuit court’s discretionary conclusion, at the dispositional phase, that termination was in D.C.’s best interest.As far as one can tell from the court’s opinion, S.C. argues that the circuit court drew the wrong inferences from the facts presented and misweighed the evidence. You can guess how the court of appeals responds:

In challenging the circuit court’s consideration of the factors at issue, S.C. argues that neither adoption nor a stable and permanent family relationship is likely because one cannot be confident of the foster family’s commitment to D.C. when the family returned D.C.’s brother to S.C. after experiencing difficulties with him. S.C. also argues that, because D.C. was removed from S.C. upon birth, allowing D.C. to reside in New York will severely hamper the development of any relationships with S.C. and D.C.’s siblings, which could cause D.C. harm.

The gravamen of S.C.’s arguments is that the circuit court should have weighed the evidence differently, against rather than in favor of termination. But the weight and credibility of the evidence are for the circuit court to determine. See Bonstores Realty One, LLC v. City of Wauwatosa, 2013 WI App 131, ¶6, 351 Wis. 2d 439, 839 N.W. 2d 893; Lessor v. Wangelin, 221 Wis. 2d 659, 665-66, 586 N.W. 2d 1 (Ct. App. 1998). The record demonstrates that the circuit court considered the evidence highlighted by S.C., together with the other evidence relevant to each factor, and determined that based on the evidence as a whole, termination was in D.C.’s best interests. The court’s decision represents a proper exercise of discretion and its order terminating S.C.’s parental rights is affirmed.


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