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Partial summary judgment, best interests determination upheld

D.R. v. B.D., 2018AP1731 & 2018AP1732, District 3, 2/20/19 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

B.D.’s challenges to the order terminating his parental rights come up short.

B.D. lost legal custody and placement of his two children after he was convicted of and placed on probation for committing misdemeanor battery against them. A year after the change in placement and custody, the children’s mother, D.R., petitioned to terminate his parental rights under § 48.415(4) because B.D. had been denied physical placement of the children by a family court order. The circuit court granted summary judgment as to grounds to terminate, and then found it was in the children’s best interest to terminate B.D.’s parental rights. (¶¶2-5). Properly so, says the court of appeals.

B.D.’s challenge to the partial summary judgment on grounds to terminate argues that summary judgment violated his due process rights. The court of appeals finds his arguments undeveloped, in conflict with supreme court precedent, effectively precluded on estoppel grounds, or aimed at the wrong court order (the probation conditions in the criminal case versus the contemporaneous family court order that, because of the criminal conviction, barred him from custody and placement). (¶¶7-16).

As to the circuit court’s finding that termination was in the children’s best interests, the court of appeals holds the circuit court appropriately exercised its discretion by considering the factors under § 48.426(3). And that is that. (¶¶17-22).

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