C.L. argued that the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in finding that the termination her parental rights to her 3 kids was in their best interests under WIS. STAT. § 48.426(3). The court of appeals was not persuaded by her arguments that the paternal grandparents should be guardians, not an adoptive resource, for the children and that the circuit court failed to consider all of the “best interests” factors.
Regarding the proposed guardianship, the court of appeals said:
¶18 . . . the trial court acknowledged this issue in its decision, observing that a guardianship by the grandparents would not resolve any safety concerns for the children as they relate to Joseph [who abused the children]. Furthermore, for Chloe to base this argument on the premise of being allowed visitation during a guardianship is somewhat disingenuous, in that she was ordered to have regular visits with the children while the CHIPS order was in effect and failed to do so.
Turning to the best interests of the children, the court of appeals held:
¶20 In short, the trial court found that although there was a concern about Joseph being allowed to have contact with the children, the statutory factors relating to the best interests of the children weighed heavily in favor of the termination of Chloe’s parental rights. Specifically, the court found that the grandparents were an adoptive resource for the children; that they were supportive of the children’s healthcare and special needs; that the children had been removed from Chloe’s home for a “significant” amount of time—over three years—given their ages; that, as a result, the children did not have substantial relationships with Chloe, and it therefore would not be harmful to the children to legally sever that relationship, also noting that the grandparents had indicated that they were amenable to Chloe having a relationship with the children. Additionally, the court found that the grandparents would provide a more stable and permanent home for the children than Chloe, who had failed to demonstrate that she could provide a safe home for the children. The record supports these findings.