Portage County DH & HS v. C.Z & S.Z., 2022AP1249-1252; 11/3/2022, District 4 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

C.Z. appeals the termination of his parental rights to his four children. The court of appeals affirms.

The opinion is a long one, but much of it is dedicated to explaining things like the court’s decision not to apply forfeiture to some arguments and its apparent difficulty in deciding just what issues C.Z. is raising. The first issue relates to a summary judgment in the grounds finding. Specifically, the circuit court held there was no issue of material fact as to whether C.Z. had been denied visitation for a year or more as contemplated by Wis. Stat. § 48.415(4). The court of appeals notes that Dane Cnty. DHS v. P.P., 2005 WI 32, 279 Wis. 2d 169, 694 N.W.2d 344, suggested that an as-applied due-process challenge might be available to that termination ground; it rejected the notion that “the proposition that there ‘is no defense to § 48.415(4) based on [a] parent’s explanation for noncompliance with the order.’” But, the court of appeals says, such a challenge would depend on developing an argument that C.Z. has not developed here. (¶¶19-23).

C.Z. also argues the lower court failed to consider certain of the statutory factors in the disposition phase, or that there wasn’t enough evidence for the court to go on; the court of appeals rejects these arguments as well. It specifically rejects C.Z.’s claim that it could not make findings about the likelihood of adoption without testimony from the prospective parents.  (¶¶24-38).