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Parent’s request to revisit TPR order wasn’t supported by new evidence

State v. Tamara B., 2014AP1714, District 1, 2/10/15 (1-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

Tamara requested a new dispositional hearing in the case that terminated her parental rights to her daughter Tamijah, saying there was new evidence that affected the advisability of the termination order. The circuit court properly determined that the evidence she presented wasn’t new.

Under § 48.46, a parent whose rights to a child have been terminated may petition the court for a rehearing on the basis of new evidence. Whether new evidence warrants a rehearing “rests in the sound discretion of the trial court,” Schroud v. Milwaukee County DPW, 53 Wis. 2d 650, 654, 193 N.W.2d 671 (1972). The court of appeals agrees with the circuit court’s conclusion that the two facts Tamara cited don’t constitute new evidence:

  • First, Tamara intends to divorce Tamijah’s father, Ernest, who had been abusive to Tamara and whose rights were also terminated. The court concludes that Ernest’s presence and conduct were not the only reasons for terminating the couple’s rights to Tamijah; Tamara had her own problems that prevented the parents from safely caring for their child, and the expert witness at the dispositional hearing had advised the trial court she would still recommend termination even if Ernest was out of the picture. (¶15).
  • Second, Tamara had not been allowed the post-termination visitation intended to allow Tamijah to have a relationship with Tamara. The court holds that post-termination visitation was conditioned on Tamijah’s needs, and her therapist concluded she was not yet able to have visits with Tamara. Given the short time (six months) since the termination order, the lack of visitation didn’t constitute new evidence sufficient to revisit the termination decision. (¶16).
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