Ann M.M. v. Rob S

In Ann M.M. v. Rob S., 176 Wis. 2d 673, 500 N.W.2d 649 (1993) a termination of parental rights case, the supreme court considered, among other things, whether, under Wis. Stat. 48.415(6) (1989-90), the evidence was sufficient to establish that Rob had failed to assume parental responsibility. See id. at 675. Rob had argued that "the record does not support by clear and convincing evidence that he failed to assume parental responsibility because the circumstances surrounding his arrest and conviction for sexual assault eliminated his opportunity and ability to do so." See id. at 683. Rejecting Rob's argument, the supreme court explained that Wis. Stat. 48.415(6), by virtue of revisions effective in 1988, "no longer requires a showing that the father had the opportunity and the ability to assume parental responsibility for the child." See 176 Wis. 2d at 683-84. "Thus," the supreme court declared, "the Wisconsin legislature has concluded that a person's parental rights may be terminated without proof that the person had the opportunity and ability to establish a substantial parental relationship with the child." 176 Wis. 2d at 684. Additionally, in words that are as applicable to Michael, incarcerated for armed robbery and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, as they were to Rob, the supreme court emphasized that it could not "ignore the fact that any roadblock to establishing a relationship with the child caused by the father's arrest, bond, and conviction was produced by the father's own conduct." See 176 Wis. 2d at 685. Rob was twenty-one years old when he impregnated Ann M.M., then fourteen years old. See Ann M.M. v. Rob S., 176 Wis. 2d 673, 676, 500 N.W.2d 649 (1993). Rob was arrested on May 17, 1991, and charged with second-degree sexual assault. See id. at 683. He was released on a bond prohibiting contact with Ann. See id. After pleading no contest, Rob was convicted on August 6, 1991. See id. Ann gave birth to Rob's child the following day. See 176 Wis. 2d at 676. On August 27, 1991, Ann petitioned to terminate parental rights of both herself and Rob. See id. On September 16, 1991, Rob was sentenced to jail for one year, plus probation. See 176 Wis. 2d at 683.