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TPR court appropriately considered whether, after termination, children would continue to have contact with biological family

State v. P.J., 2018AP376-2018AP381, 5/30/18, District 1, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

P.J. challenged the termination of her parental rights to her 6 children on the grounds that the circuit court failed to appropriately consider the substantial bond  that she had with her children and improperly relied on testimony by the various foster parents that the children would continue to have contact with each other. The court of appeals affirmed.

The court of appeals noted that SCOW authorized circuit courts to consider whether there would be continued contact between children and their biological families when deciding whether to terminate parental rights. See State v. Margaret H., 2000 WI 42, ¶¶29-30, 234 Wis. 2d 606, 610 N.W.2d 475.  Thus, no error occurred on this point. Furthermore, record shows that the circuit court did consider the children’s substantial relationship with P.J.:

¶16 . . . As to this factor, the court noted that the children do have a substantial relationship with P.J., particularly the older children. The court also found that the children share a substantial relationship with each other. However, the court found that legally severing the relationships was not the equivalent of determining that the children could never see each other or P.J. The court discussed the foster families’ efforts to maintain contact between the children and found that the families have “expressed very genuinely a recognition that it’s very important for the children to know where they come from and to continue to have a connection to their siblings and their other family members.” The court also acknowledged that two of the children are placed with maternal relatives, making it easier for them to maintain contact with P.J. The court considered the appropriate statutory factors and was not in error for partially relying on the testimony of the foster parents to determine that termination of P.J.’s parental rights was in the best interests of her children.

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