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CHIPS Petitions

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 8, 2024//

CHIPS Petitions

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 8, 2024//

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WI Court of Appeals – District I

Case Name: State of Wisconsin v. M. A. C.

Case No.: 2023AP002181

Officials: Geenen, J.

Focus: CHIPS Petitions

Molly appealed the Milwaukee County Circuit Court’s orders that found her in default and struck her contesting posture regarding CHIPS petitions for her children, Natalie and Iliana, due to her nonappearance at a March 15, 2023 status hearing. Molly contended that her absence was due to attending a late-running hearing in another criminal matter and that this constituted a clear and justifiable excuse.

The court’s initial warnings indicated nonappearance could result in default, but Molly’s criminal counsel informed the court of the scheduling conflict. Despite this, the court found her absence egregious, struck her contest posture, and took jurisdiction over her children by default. The circuit court emphasized that Molly could have notified the court from the criminal hearing.

Molly’s motion for reconsideration was denied, with the court reasoning that Molly could have coordinated better between courts. Molly argued her nonappearance was due to circumstances beyond her control, as her criminal case ran late, and attending both hearings simultaneously was impossible.

The Appeals Court reversed the default orders, concluding Molly’s conduct was not egregious and her absence had a clear and justifiable excuse. The court found that the circuit court’s rejection of her excuse was unreasonable, lacking evidentiary support, and improperly speculative. Thus, the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded.

Decided 07/02/24

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