Portage County DH & HS v. S.Z. & C.Z., 2022AP1352-1355, 11/17/2022, District 4 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

This case is the companion of C.Z. & S.Z., decided two weeks ago. C.Z. is the father of the four children at issue; S.Z., the appellant here, is the mother. The opinion here is pretty much a remix of the opinion in the earlier case; both parents raise similar issues and the court similarly rejects them.

As did the previous case, this one involves a due-process challenge to the denial-of-visitation ground found in Wis. Stat. § 48.415(4). As in the previous case, the court mulls whether this claim is forfeited for failure to raise it in the trial court. As in the previous case, the court declines to apply forfeiture. And as in the previous case, the court nevertheless holds that the parent has not developed an adequate argument to sustain a due-process challenge. A difference: while the prior opinion focused on a prospective challenge based in Dane Cnty. DHS v. P.P., 2005 WI 32, 279 Wis. 2d 169, 694 N.W.2d 344, this one centers on Kenosha Cnty. DHS v. Jodie W., 2006 WI 93, 293 Wis. 2d 530, 716 N.W.2d 845, and its holding that a parent can’t be found unfit solely for failure to meet an impossible condition. Here, the court holds that S.Z. didn’t show that the conditions of visitation were really impossible for her to meet. (¶¶17-24).

Also like the prior case, this one involves a challenge to the circuit court’s decision to terminate; also like the prior case, the court of appeals concludes the lower court weighed the statutory factors and thus affirms. (¶¶25-28).