State v. C.L. (In re D.T.-L.), 2022AP1580

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtBRASH, C.J.
PartiesIn re the termination of parental rights to D.T.-L., a person under the age of 18: v. C.L., Respondent-Appellant. State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Respondent, In re the termination of parental rights to J.T.-L., a person under the age of 18: State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Respondent, v. C.L., Respondent-Appellant. In re the termination of parental rights to J.T.-L., a person under the age of 18: State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Respondent, v. C.L., Respondent-Appellant.
Docket Number2022AP1580,2022AP1581,2022AP1582
Decision Date22 November 2022

In re the termination of parental rights to D.T.-L., a person under the age of 18:

State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.

C.L., Respondent-Appellant.

In re the termination of parental rights to J.T.-L., a person under the age of 18:

State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.

C.L., Respondent-Appellant.

In re the termination of parental rights to J.T.-L., a person under the age of 18:

State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.

C.L., Respondent-Appellant.

Nos. 2022AP1580, 2022AP1581, 2022AP1582

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin

November 22, 2022


This opinion will not be published. See Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(1)(b)4.

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APPEALS from orders of the circuit court for Milwaukee County Cir. Ct. Nos. 2020TP261, 2020TP262, 2020TP263, MARSHALL B. MURRAY, Judge. Affirmed.

BRASH, C.J. [1]

¶1 Chloe appeals the orders of the trial court terminating her parental rights to David, Josh, and Josie.[2] Chloe argues that the trial court erroneously exercised its discretion in determining that it was in the children's best interests to terminate Chloe's parental rights. Upon review, we affirm.

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Background

¶2 Chloe is the biological mother of twins David and Josh, born in November 2014, and Josie, born in April 2018. The children's father, Joseph, voluntarily consented to the termination of his parental rights.

¶3 The children were detained by the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS) in January 2019 upon receiving information that the children were at substantial risk of being physically abused. Chloe's children were taken to the Child Advocacy Center for physical abuse examinations. Both David and Josh, as well as one of Chloe's older children, were found to have healed looped cord injuries which are indicative of abuse. David also had healed injuries on the back of his left arm and neck, which was "concerning for past abuse."

¶4 Chloe subsequently told case workers that the children's father, Joseph, had caused the twins' injuries in June 2018, and she had reported this to the police. The case workers noted that Joseph had pending criminal charges against him for child abuse-intentionally causing harm; battery; domestic abuse; and intimidation of a witness by a person charged with a felony. These charges were from an incident that occurred in April 2017, and there was a no-contact order in effect for Chloe and her children. Further research uncovered a history of domestic abuse of Chloe by Joseph dating back to 2014.

¶5 David, Josh, and Josie were removed from Chloe's care and placed with their paternal grandparents.[3] The trial court found the children to be in need

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of protection or services (CHIPS), and corresponding dispositional orders were entered listing a number of conditions that had to be met before the children could be returned to Chloe's care. Those conditions included not allowing violence in the home, providing a safe living environment, and requiring Chloe to gain control of her mental health and her emotions. Regular visitation with the children was also required.

¶6 Chloe failed to meet these conditions. For example, she was referred to a therapist for her mental health issues, but only attended one appointment. Furthermore, she was inconsistent with her visits with the children, and it was observed that when she did visit them, she was "unable to manage all of her children's behaviors, struggle[d] with boundaries and ha[d] inappropriate conversations with them," such as "encouraging them to run away and go to her home." The condition relating to providing a safe living environment was also of concern because she had violated the no-contact order with Joseph. Additionally, Chloe tested positive at one point for ecstasy and methamphetamines.

¶7 Therefore, Petitions for the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) were filed in November 2020. In the petitions, the State's alleged grounds for termination included the continuing need for protection or services for the children, pursuant to Wis.Stat. § 48.415(2), and Chloe's failure to assume parental responsibility, pursuant to § 48.415(6). Chloe entered a no contest plea to the continuing CHIPS ground in February 2022, and the matter proceeded to disposition.

¶8 At the dispositional hearing held in June 2022, the State called the case manager for the family to testify. The case manager explained that the children had remained with their paternal grandparents since they were removed

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from Chloe's care, that they were committed to adopting them, and that the children each had a strong bond with them. The case manager also described each child's mental health and behavioral issues, which were being treated through therapy with the involvement of the grandparents. The case manager noted that Chloe had not been involved at all with their treatments. In fact, other than two short telephone visits just prior to the hearing, the case manager stated that Chloe had not had contact with the children since 2019.

¶9 The case manager further testified that Joseph had been released from custody around January 2022. The case manager stated that Joseph did have supervised contact with the children for short periods of time, but that the grandparents were...

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