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No due process violation in applying TPR grounds

State v. T.S.R., 2017AP548, 3/20/18, District 1 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

T.S.R. appeals the termination of her parental rights to her daughter. She argues that the two statutory grounds on which she was found unfit–continuing CHIPS and failure to assume parental responsibility–violate due process as applied to her.The essence of both claims is that it was impossible for T.S.R. to do what she would have to do to avoid being found unfit. Kenosha County Department of Human Services v. Jodie W., 2006 WI 93, 293 Wis. 2d 530, 716 N.W.2d 845, reversed a T.P.R. where the parent’s incarceration was the sole reason her child remained in need of protection and services. The court here holds T.S.R.’s own continuing actions were the basis for the unfitness grounds–rather than any set of conditions that were impossible for her to meet.

T.S.R.’s first argument is that she was prevented from forming a “substantial parental relationship” with her child because the child was placed out-of-home. The court of appeals sustains the trial court’s finding that there were ample avenues available to T.S.R. (¶¶22-31).

She next argues that her mental illness made it impossible for her to satisfy the conditions of return. The court responds that it was T.S.R.’s “conduct” in failing to manage her illness via prescribed medication, and by failing to participate in the services offered to her, that caused the conditions to go unmet. (¶¶32-45).

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