WI: Imprisoned Parent’s Parental Rights Can’t Be Terminated for Lack of Housing for Child

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that parental rights cannot be terminated solely because a parent cannot provide his or her child with a home, as court-ordered.

In the case before the court, the mother was unable to furnish her child with appropriate housing because she was in jail.

The lower courts found the mother unfit on that basis, terminated her parental rights and cut off all visitation with her son.

The Supreme Court reversed, ruling that TPR (termination of parental rights) cases should be decided on a case by case basis, according to the specific facts of the particular case. The ability to provide housing should not be the deciding factor with regard to a parent who is in jail.

A court should consider, among other things, the nature of the charges leading to the parent’s incarceration, the length of the prison term and the bond established between parent and child.

This case protects parents’ parental rights.

Arguably, at the expense of children’s rights. Some fear the holding will result in children being subjected to lengthier stays in foster care, without hope of adoption.

Read more in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article: Ruling restores parental rights – State high court’s decision may affect other jailed parents.