New birth certificate.
Withdrawal or denial of petition.
Adoption orders of other jurisdictions.
Appointment of relatives as guardians for certain children in need of protection or services.
Interstate placement of children.
Abused or neglected children.
Child abuse and neglect prevention board.
Expenditure of federal child welfare funds.
Earnings of self-supporting minors.
Interstate compact on the placement of children.
Interstate compact on the placement of children: additional procedure.
Interstate adoption agreements.
Ch. 48 Cross-reference
See s. 46.011
for definitions applicable to chs. 46
Ch. 48 Note
NOTE: 1995 Wis. Act 275
, which made major revisions of Chapter 48, contains extensive explanatory notes.
Title and legislative purpose. 48.01(1)
This chapter may be cited as "The Children's Code". In construing this chapter, the best interests of the child shall always be of paramount consideration. This chapter shall be liberally construed to effectuate the following express legislative purposes:
While recognizing that the paramount goal of this chapter is to protect children, to preserve the unity of the family, whenever appropriate, by strengthening family life through assisting parents, whenever appropriate, in fulfilling their parental responsibilities. The courts and agencies responsible for child welfare should assist parents in changing any circumstances in the home which might harm the child or which may require the child to be placed outside the home. The courts should recognize that they have the authority, in appropriate cases, not to reunite a child with his or her family. The courts and agencies responsible for child welfare should also recognize that instability and impermanence in family relationships are contrary to the welfare of children and should therefore recognize the importance of eliminating the need for children to wait unreasonable periods of time for their parents to correct the conditions that prevent their return to the family.
To provide judicial and other procedures through which children and all other interested parties are assured fair hearings and their constitutional and other legal rights are recognized and enforced, while protecting the public safety.
To recognize that children have certain basic needs which must be provided for, including the need for adequate food, clothing and shelter; the need to be free from physical, sexual or emotional injury or exploitation; the need to develop physically, mentally and emotionally to their potential; and the need for a safe and permanent family. It is further recognized that, under certain circumstances, in order to ensure that the needs of a child, as described in this paragraph, are provided for, the court may determine that it is in the best interests of the child for the child to be removed from his or her parents, consistent with any applicable law relating to the rights of parents.
To ensure that children are protected against the harmful effects resulting from the absence of parents or parent substitutes, from the inability, other than financial inability, of parents or parent substitutes to provide care and protection for their children and from the destructive behavior of parents or parent substitutes in providing care and protection for their children.
To ensure that children are provided good substitute parental care in the event of the absence, temporary or permanent inability, other than financial inability, or unfitness of parents to provide care and protection for their children.
To encourage innovative and effective prevention, intervention and treatment approaches, including collaborative community efforts and the use of community-based programs, as significant strategies in planning and implementing legislative, executive and local government policies and programs relating to children and their families and substitute families.
To divert children from formal proceedings under this chapter to the extent that this is consistent with protection of children and the public safety.
To assure that children pending adoptive homes will be placed in the best homes available and protected from adoption by persons unfit to have responsibility for raising children.
To promote the adoption of children into stable families rather than allowing children to remain in the impermanence of foster or treatment foster care.
To allow for the termination of parental rights at the earliest possible time after rehabilitation and reunification efforts are discontinued in accordance with this chapter and termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.
To reaffirm that the duty of a parent to support and maintain his or her child continues during any period in which the child may be removed from the custody of the parent.
In proceedings involving an American Indian child, the best interests of the child shall be determined consistent with the Indian child welfare act, 25 USC 1901
. In this subsection, "American Indian child" means any unmarried person who is under 18 years of age and who is one of the following:
Eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.
Meaning of "best interests of the child" discussed. Adoption of Tachick, 60 W (2d) 540, 210 NW (2d) 865.
The best interests of a child abandoned by its father prior to its birth require affirmance of the county court order terminating the father's parental rights. State ex rel. Lewis v. Lutheran Social Services, 68 W (2d) 36, 227 NW (2d) 643.
A juvenile court in the disposition of a case subsequent to an adjudication of delinquency, must consider not only the paramount factor of the child's best interests but also the interest of the parents or guardian and the interest of the public. In re Interest of J. K. (a minor), 68 W (2d) 426, 228 NW (2d) 713.
"Paramount consideration" of child's best interest under (2) does not mandate that the child's interests will always outweigh the public's. In Interest of B.B., 166 W (2d) 202, 479 NW (2d) 205 (Ct. App. 1991).
Jurisdictional questions relating to Indian child welfare act discussed. 70 Atty. Gen. 237.
See note to 48.48, citing Roe v. Borup, 500 F Supp. 127 (1980).
Adoption and termination proceedings in Wisconsin: Straining the wisdom of Solomon. Hayes and Morse, 66 MLR 439 (1983).
The Indian child welfare act—tribal self-determination through participation in child custody proceedings. 1979 WLR 1202.
In this chapter, unless otherwise defined:
"Abuse", other than when used in referring to abuse of alcohol beverages or other drugs, means any of the following:
Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means.
Emotional damage for which the child's parent, guardian or legal custodian has neglected, refused or been unable for reasons other than poverty to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to ameliorate the symptoms.
"Adult" means a person who is 18 years of age or older, except that for purposes of investigating or prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated any state or federal criminal law or any civil law or municipal ordinance, "adult" means a person who has attained 17 years of age.
"Alcohol and other drug abuse impairment" means a condition of a person which is exhibited by characteristics of habitual lack of self-control in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs to the extent that the person's health is substantially affected or endangered or the person's social or economic functioning is substantially disrupted.
"Child" means a person who is less than 18 years of age, except that for purposes of investigating or prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated a state or federal criminal law or any civil law or municipal ordinance, "child" does not include a person who has attained 17 years of age.
"Child caring institution" means a facility operated by a child welfare agency licensed under s. 48.60
for the care and maintenance of children residing in that facility.
"County department" means a county department under s. 46.215
, unless the context requires otherwise.
"Court", when used without further qualification, means the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 938
"Court intake worker" means any person designated to provide intake services under s. 48.067
"Department" means the department of health and family services.
"Developmentally disabled" means having a developmental disability, as defined in s. 51.01 (5)
"Emotional damage" means harm to a child's psychological or intellectual functioning. "Emotional damage" shall be evidenced by one or more of the following characteristics exhibited to a severe degree: anxiety; depression; withdrawal; outward aggressive behavior; or a substantial and observable change in behavior, emotional response or cognition that is not within the normal range for the child's age and stage of development.
"Foreign jurisdiction" means a jurisdiction outside of the United States.
"Foster home" means any facility that is operated by a person required to be licensed by s. 48.62 (1) (a)
and that provides care and maintenance for no more than 4 children unless all of the children are siblings.
"Group home" means any facility operated by a person required to be licensed by the department under s. 48.625
for the care and maintenance of 5 to 8 children.
"Guardian" means the person named by the court having the duty and authority of guardianship.
"Judge", if used without further qualification, means the judge of the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 938
"Legal custodian" means a person, other than a parent or guardian, or an agency to whom legal custody of the child has been transferred by a court, but does not include a person who has only physical custody of the child.
"Legal custody" means a legal status created by the order of a court, which confers the right and duty to protect, train and discipline the child, and to provide food, shelter, legal services, education and ordinary medical and dental care, subject to the rights, duties and responsibilities of the guardian of the child and subject to any residual parental rights and responsibilities and the provisions of any court order.
"Nonidentifying social history information" means information about a person's birth parent that may aid the person in establishing a sense of identity. "Nonidentifying social history information" may include, but is not limited to, the following information about a birth parent, but does not include any information that would disclose the name, location or identity of a birth parent:
Reason for placing the child for adoption or for the termination of parental rights.