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Evidence supported finding that termination of parental rights was in children’s best interests

State v. A.W., 2015AP1480-1481, 10/1/15, District 1 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

Focusing on  §48.426(3)(c), one of the “best interests of the children” criteria, the court of appeals here affirmed the circuit court’s finding that the termination of AW’s parental rights would not significantly harm her children. Evidence that the S.B., the likely adoptive parent, would allow A.W. to continue to see her children supported the circuit court’s decision on this point.

A.W. also argued that in lieu of terminating her parental rights, the circuit court should have proceeded with a “transfer of guardianship” agreement hammered out by the parties a year earlier. The agreement provided that A.W. would retain her legal relationship with her children, but they would live with S.B. The court of appeals noted, among other things, that A.W.’s circumstances had changed to the point that the proposed arrangement was no longer a good idea:

¶19 In particular, one of the case management supervisors testified regarding significant changes in A.W.’s circumstances. The supervisor testified that, at the beginning of 2014, A.W. was “engaged in all of her services and working on making progress.” But, according to the supervisor, “things started to fall apart around April of 2014 and I don’t believe that [A.W.]’s been compliant since that time.” Providing further details, the supervisor testified that, beginning in April 2014, A.W. had increasing problems with housing, therapy, AODA services, drug use, visitation with the children, missed appointments, and probation violation. In addition, there is the undisputed fact that, by the time of the disposition hearing in March 2015, both young children had been placed out of A.W.’s care for a significantly longer period of time than they had been in February 2014. S

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