TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
48.40 48.40 Definitions. In this subchapter:
48.40(1) (1) Except as otherwise provided, “agency" means the department, a county department or a licensed child welfare agency.
48.40(1m) (1m) “Kinship care relative" means a person receiving payments under s. 48.57 (3m) (am) for providing care and maintenance for a child.
48.40(1r) (1r) “Parent" has the meaning given in s. 48.02 (13), except that for purposes of filing a petition seeking the involuntary termination of parental rights under s. 48.415 to a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.803 and whose paternity has not been established, of finding grounds under s. 48.415 for the involuntary termination of parental rights to such a child, and of terminating the parental rights to such a child on a ground specified in s. 48.415, “parent" includes a person who may be the parent of such a child.
48.40(2) (2) “Termination of parental rights" means that, pursuant to a court order, all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties and obligations existing between parent and child are permanently severed.
48.40 Annotation Terminating parental rights. Hayes and Ogorchok. Wis. Law. June 1989.
48.41 48.41 Voluntary consent to termination of parental rights.
48.41(1)(1) The court may terminate the parental rights of a parent after the parent has given his or her consent as specified in this section. When such voluntary consent is given as provided in this section, the judge may proceed immediately to a disposition of the matter after considering the standard and factors specified in s. 48.426.
48.41(2) (2) The court may accept a voluntary consent to termination of parental rights only as follows:
48.41(2)(a) (a) The parent appears personally at the hearing and gives his or her consent to the termination of his or her parental rights. The judge may accept the consent only after the judge has explained the effect of termination of parental rights and has questioned the parent, or has permitted an attorney who represents any of the parties to question the parent, and is satisfied that the consent is informed and voluntary.
48.41(2)(b) (b) If the court finds that it would be difficult or impossible for the parent to appear in person at the hearing, the court may do any of the following:
48.41(2)(b)1. 1. Accept the written consent of the parent given before an embassy or consul official, a military judge, or a judge of any court of record in another county or state or a foreign jurisdiction. This written consent shall be accompanied by the signed findings of the embassy or consul official or judge who accepted the parent's consent. These findings shall recite that the embassy or consul official or judge or an attorney who represents any of the parties questioned the parent and found that the consent was informed and voluntary before the embassy or consul official or judge accepted the consent of the parent.
48.41(2)(b)2. 2. On request of the parent, unless good cause to the contrary is shown, admit testimony on the record by telephone or live audiovisual means as prescribed in s. 807.13 (2).
48.41(2)(c) (c) A person who may be, but who has not been adjudicated as, the father of a nonmarital child may consent to the termination of any parental rights that he may have as provided in par. (a) or (b) or by signing a written, notarized statement which recites that he has been informed of and understands the effect of an order to terminate parental rights and that he voluntarily disclaims any rights that he may have to the child, including the right to notice of proceedings under this subchapter.
48.41(2)(d) (d) If the proceeding to terminate parental rights is held prior to an adoption proceeding in which the petitioner is the child's stepparent, or in which the child's birth parent is a resident of a foreign jurisdiction, the child's birth parent may consent to the termination of any parental rights that he or she may have as provided in par. (a) or (b) or by filing with the court an affidavit witnessed by 2 persons stating that he or she has been informed of and understands the effect of an order to terminate parental rights and that he or she voluntarily disclaims all rights to the child, including the right to notice of proceedings under this subchapter.
48.41(2)(e) (e) In the case of an Indian child, the consent is given as provided in s. 48.028 (5) (b).
48.41(3) (3) If in any proceeding to terminate parental rights voluntarily a guardian ad litem has reason to doubt the capacity of a parent to give informed and voluntary consent to the termination, he or she shall so inform the court. The court shall then inquire into the capacity of that parent in any appropriate way and shall make a finding as to whether or not the parent is capable of giving informed and voluntary consent to the termination. If the court finds that the parent is incapable of knowingly and voluntarily consenting to the termination of parental rights, it shall dismiss the proceedings without prejudice. That dismissal shall not preclude an involuntary termination of the parent's rights under s. 48.415.
48.41 History History: 1979 c. 330; 1981 c. 384; 1983 a. 352, 447; 1987 a. 383; Sup. Ct. Order, 151 Wis. 2d xxv (1989); 1999 a. 83; 2005 a. 293; 2009 a. 94.
48.41 Note Judicial Council Note, 1990: Sub. (3) is repealed and recreated because the so-called substituted judgment permitted therein is bad public policy. New sub. (3) deals with the situation in which there is reason to doubt the competency of a parent who wishes to consent to the termination of his or her parental rights. Any party or guardian ad litem with reason to doubt such competency is required to so inform the court. The court must then make an inquiry in whatever way is appropriate. This may mean a simple discussion with the person, an examination, the appointment of experts to examine the person, a hearing or whatever seems proper in the discretion of the court. If the court finds the person incapable of making an informed and voluntary termination of parental rights, the court must dismiss the proceeding. If appropriate, an involuntary proceeding may then be commenced. A finding that the parent is competent does not obviate the need for a record that he or she has in fact given informed and voluntary consent prior to entry of a termination order. In Interest of D.L.S., 112 Wis. 2d 180, 196-97 (1983). [Re Order effective Jan. 1, 1990]
48.41 Annotation The minimum information that must be found on the record to support a finding that a minor parent's consent was voluntary and informed is set forth. In Interest of D. L. S. 112 Wis. 2d 180, 332 N.W.2d 293 (1983).
48.41 Annotation Enforcement of surrogacy agreements promotes stability and permanence in family relationships because it allows the intended parents to plan for the arrival of their child, reinforces the expectations of all parties to the agreement, and reduces contentious litigation. The surrogacy agreement in this case was enforceable except for the portions of the agreement requiring a voluntary termination of parental rights (TPR). The TPR provisions did not comply with the procedural safeguards set forth in s. 48.41 for a voluntary TPR because the biological mother would not consent to the TPR and there was no legal basis for involuntary termination. The TPR provisions were severable. Rosecky v. Schissel, 2013 WI 66, 349 Wis. 2d 84, 833 N.W.2d 634, 11-2166.
48.415 48.415 Grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. At the fact-finding hearing the court or jury shall determine whether grounds exist for the termination of parental rights. If the child is an Indian child, the court or jury shall also determine at the fact-finding hearing whether continued custody of the Indian child by the Indian child's parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the Indian child under s. 48.028 (4) (e) 1. and whether active efforts under s. 48.028 (4) (e) 2. have been made to prevent the breakup of the Indian child's family and whether those efforts have proved unsuccessful, unless partial summary judgment on the grounds for termination of parental rights is granted, in which case the court shall make those determinations at the dispositional hearing. Grounds for termination of parental rights shall be one of the following:
48.415(1) (1)Abandonment.
48.415(1)(a)(a) Abandonment, which, subject to par. (c), shall be established by proving any of the following:
48.415(1)(a)1. 1. That the child has been left without provision for the child's care or support, the petitioner has investigated the circumstances surrounding the matter and for 60 days the petitioner has been unable to find either parent.
48.415(1)(a)1m. 1m. That the child has been left by the parent without provision for the child's care or support in a place or manner that exposes the child to substantial risk of great bodily harm, as defined in s. 939.22 (14), or death.
48.415(1)(a)1r. 1r. That a court of competent jurisdiction has found under s. 48.13 (2) or under a law of any other state or a federal law that is comparable to s. 48.13 (2) that the child was abandoned when the child was under one year of age or has found that the parent abandoned the child when the child was under one year of age in violation of s. 948.20 or in violation of the law of any other state or federal law, if that violation would be a violation of s. 948.20 if committed in this state.
48.415(1)(a)2. 2. That the child has been placed, or continued in a placement, outside the parent's home by a court order containing the notice required by s. 48.356 (2) or 938.356 (2) and the parent has failed to visit or communicate with the child for a period of 3 months or longer.
48.415(1)(a)3. 3. The child has been left by the parent with any person, the parent knows or could discover the whereabouts of the child and the parent has failed to visit or communicate with the child for a period of 6 months or longer.
48.415(1)(b) (b) Incidental contact between parent and child shall not preclude the court from finding that the parent has failed to visit or communicate with the child under par. (a) 2. or 3. The time periods under par. (a) 2. or 3. shall not include any periods during which the parent has been prohibited by judicial order from visiting or communicating with the child.
48.415(1)(c) (c) Abandonment is not established under par. (a) 2. or 3. if the parent proves all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
48.415(1)(c)1. 1. That the parent had good cause for having failed to visit with the child throughout the time period specified in par. (a) 2. or 3., whichever is applicable.
48.415(1)(c)2. 2. That the parent had good cause for having failed to communicate with the child throughout the time period specified in par. (a) 2. or 3., whichever is applicable.
48.415(1)(c)3. 3. If the parent proves good cause under subd. 2., including good cause based on evidence that the child's age or condition would have rendered any communication with the child meaningless, that one of the following occurred:
48.415(1)(c)3.a. a. The parent communicated about the child with the person or persons who had physical custody of the child during the time period specified in par. (a) 2. or 3., whichever is applicable, or, if par. (a) 2. is applicable, with the agency responsible for the care of the child during the time period specified in par. (a) 2.
48.415(1)(c)3.b. b. The parent had good cause for having failed to communicate about the child with the person or persons who had physical custody of the child or the agency responsible for the care of the child throughout the time period specified in par. (a) 2. or 3., whichever is applicable.
48.415(1m) (1m)Relinquishment. Relinquishment, which shall be established by proving that a court of competent jurisdiction has found under s. 48.13 (2m) that the parent has relinquished custody of the child under s. 48.195 (1) when the child was 72 hours old or younger.
48.415(2) (2)Continuing need of protection or services. Continuing need of protection or services, which shall be established by proving any of the following:
48.415(2)(a)1.1. That the child has been adjudged to be a child or an unborn child in need of protection or services and placed, or continued in a placement, outside his or her home pursuant to one or more court orders under s. 48.345, 48.347, 48.357, 48.363, 48.365, 938.345, 938.357, 938.363 or 938.365 containing the notice required by s. 48.356 (2) or 938.356 (2).
48.415(2)(a)2.a.a. In this subdivision, “ reasonable effort" means an earnest and conscientious effort to take good faith steps to provide the services ordered by the court which takes into consideration the characteristics of the parent or child or of the expectant mother or child, the level of cooperation of the parent or expectant mother and other relevant circumstances of the case.
48.415(2)(a)2.b. b. That the agency responsible for the care of the child and the family or of the unborn child and expectant mother has made a reasonable effort to provide the services ordered by the court.
48.415(2)(a)3. 3. That the child has been outside the home for a cumulative total period of 6 months or longer pursuant to such orders not including time spent outside the home as an unborn child; and that the parent has failed to meet the conditions established for the safe return of the child to the home and there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not meet these conditions within the 9-month period following the fact-finding hearing under s. 48.424.
48.415(2)(am)1.1. That on 3 or more occasions the child has been adjudicated to be in need of protection or services under s. 48.13 (3), (3m), (10) or (10m) and, in connection with each of those adjudications, has been placed outside his or her home pursuant to a court order under s. 48.345 containing the notice required by s. 48.356 (2).
48.415(2)(am)2. 2. That the conditions that led to the child's placement outside his or her home under each order specified in subd. 1. were caused by the parent.
48.415(3) (3)Continuing parental disability. Continuing parental disability, which shall be established by proving that:
48.415(3)(a) (a) The parent is presently, and for a cumulative total period of at least 2 years within the 5 years immediately prior to the filing of the petition has been, an inpatient at one or more hospitals as defined in s. 50.33 (2) (a), (b) or (c), licensed treatment facilities as defined in s. 51.01 (2) or state treatment facilities as defined in s. 51.01 (15) on account of mental illness as defined in s. 51.01 (13) (a) or (b), developmental disability as defined in s. 55.01 (2), or other like incapacities, as defined in s. 55.01 (5);
48.415(3)(b) (b) The condition of the parent is likely to continue indefinitely; and
48.415(3)(c) (c) The child is not being provided with adequate care by a relative who has legal custody of the child, or by a parent or a guardian.
48.415(4) (4)Continuing denial of periods of physical placement or visitation. Continuing denial of periods of physical placement or visitation, which shall be established by proving all of the following:
48.415(4)(a) (a) That the parent has been denied periods of physical placement by court order in an action affecting the family or has been denied visitation under an order under s. 48.345, 48.363, 48.365, 938.345, 938.363 or 938.365 containing the notice required by s. 48.356 (2) or 938.356 (2).
48.415(4)(b) (b) That at least one year has elapsed since the order denying periods of physical placement or visitation was issued and the court has not subsequently modified its order so as to permit periods of physical placement or visitation.
48.415(5) (5)Child abuse. Child abuse, which shall be established by proving that the parent has exhibited a pattern of physically or sexually abusive behavior which is a substantial threat to the health of the child who is the subject of the petition and proving either of the following:
48.415(5)(a) (a) That the parent has caused death or injury to a child or children resulting in a felony conviction.
48.415(5)(b) (b) That a child has previously been removed from the parent's home pursuant to a court order under s. 48.345 after an adjudication that the child is in need of protection or services under s. 48.13 (3) or (3m).
48.415(6) (6)Failure to assume parental responsibility.
48.415(6)(a)(a) Failure to assume parental responsibility, which shall be established by proving that the parent or the person or persons who may be the parent of the child have not had a substantial parental relationship with the child.
48.415(6)(b) (b) In this subsection, “ substantial parental relationship" means the acceptance and exercise of significant responsibility for the daily supervision, education, protection and care of the child. In evaluating whether the person has had a substantial parental relationship with the child, the court may consider such factors, including, but not limited to, whether the person has expressed concern for or interest in the support, care or well-being of the child, whether the person has neglected or refused to provide care or support for the child and whether, with respect to a person who is or may be the father of the child, the person has expressed concern for or interest in the support, care or well-being of the mother during her pregnancy.
48.415(7) (7)Incestuous parenthood. Incestuous parenthood, which shall be established by proving that the person whose parental rights are sought to be terminated is also related, either by blood or adoption, to the child's other parent in a degree of kinship closer than 2nd cousin.
48.415(8) (8)Homicide or solicitation to commit homicide of parent. Homicide or solicitation to commit homicide of a parent, which shall be established by proving that a parent of the child has been a victim of first-degree intentional homicide in violation of s. 940.01, first-degree reckless homicide in violation of s. 940.02 or 2nd-degree intentional homicide in violation of s. 940.05 or a crime under federal law or the law of any other state that is comparable to any of those crimes, or has been the intended victim of a solicitation to commit first-degree intentional homicide in violation of s. 939.30 or a crime under federal law or the law of any other state that is comparable to that crime, and that the person whose parental rights are sought to be terminated has been convicted of that intentional or reckless homicide, solicitation or crime under federal law or the law of any other state as evidenced by a final judgment of conviction.
48.415(9) (9)Parenthood as a result of sexual assault.
48.415(9)(a)(a) Parenthood as a result of sexual assault, which shall be established by proving that the child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault in violation of s. 940.225 (1), (2) or (3), 948.02 (1) or (2), 948.025, or 948.085. Conception as a result of sexual assault as specified in this paragraph may be proved by a final judgment of conviction or other evidence produced at a fact-finding hearing under s. 48.424 indicating that the person who may be the father of the child committed, during a possible time of conception, a sexual assault as specified in this paragraph against the mother of the child.
48.415(9)(b) (b) If the conviction or other evidence specified in par. (a) indicates that the child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault in violation of s. 948.02 (1) or (2) or 948.085, the mother of the child may be heard on her desire for the termination of the father's parental rights.
48.415(9m) (9m)Commission of a felony against a child.
48.415(9m)(a)(a) Commission of a serious felony against one of the person's children, which shall be established by proving that a child of the person whose parental rights are sought to be terminated was the victim of a serious felony and that the person whose parental rights are sought to be terminated has been convicted of that serious felony as evidenced by a final judgment of conviction.
48.415(9m)(am) (am) Commission of a violation of s. 948.051 involving any child or a violation of the law of any other state or federal law, if that violation would be a violation of s. 948.051 involving any child if committed in this state.
48.415(9m)(b) (b) In this subsection, “ serious felony" means any of the following:
48.415(9m)(b)1. 1. The commission of, the aiding or abetting of, or the solicitation, conspiracy or attempt to commit, a violation of s. 940.01, 940.02, 940.03 or 940.05 or a violation of the law of any other state or federal law, if that violation would be a violation of s. 940.01, 940.02, 940.03 or 940.05 if committed in this state.
48.415(9m)(b)2.a.a. The commission of a violation of s. 940.19 (3), 1999 stats., a violation of s. 940.19 (2), (4) or (5), 940.225 (1) or (2), 948.02 (1) or (2), 948.025, 948.03 (2) (a), (3) (a), or (5) (a) 1., 2., or 3., 948.05, 948.051, 948.06, or 948.08, or a violation of s. 940.302 (2) if s. 940.302 (2) (a) 1. b. applies.
48.415(9m)(b)2.b. b. A violation of the law of any other state or federal law, if that violation would be a violation listed under subd. 2. a. if committed in this state.
48.415(9m)(b)3. 3. The commission of a violation of s. 948.21 or a violation of the law of any other state or federal law, if that violation would be a violation of s. 948.21 if committed in this state, that resulted in the death of the victim.
48.415(10) (10)Prior involuntary termination of parental rights to another child. Prior involuntary termination of parental rights to another child, which shall be established by proving all of the following:
48.415(10)(a) (a) That the child who is the subject of the petition has been adjudged to be in need of protection or services under s. 48.13 (2), (3) or (10); or that the child who is the subject of the petition was born after the filing of a petition under this subsection whose subject is a sibling of the child.
48.415(10)(b) (b) That, within 3 years prior to the date the court adjudged the child to be in need of protection or services as specified in par. (a) or, in the case of a child born after the filing of a petition as specified in par. (a), within 3 years prior to the date of birth of the child, a court has ordered the termination of parental rights with respect to another child of the person whose parental rights are sought to be terminated on one or more of the grounds specified in this section.
48.415 Annotation Consent by the mother subsequent to the birth of the child to termination of her parental rights in its best interests so that the child might be placed for adoption constituted an abandonment, and although she was permitted to withdraw that consent by a previous decision of the supreme court, the best interests of the child require modification of the court order to effect a termination of her parental rights. Lewis v. Lutheran Social Services, 68 Wis. 2d 36, 227 N.W.2d 643 (1975).
48.415 Annotation A termination order was not supported by sufficient findings when the findings merely repeated statutory language and made no determination of the best interests of the child. Termination of Parental Rights to T. R. M. 100 Wis. 2d 681, 303 N.W.2d 581 (1981).
48.415 Annotation A parent has constitutionally protected rights to the care, custody, and management of a child. In Interest of J. L. W. 102 Wis. 2d 118, 306 N.W.2d 46 (1981).
48.415 Annotation The dismissal of termination proceedings on grounds of abandonment because only 2 of 6 dispositional orders contained statutory warnings was inappropriate. The warning is only required in one order. In Interest of K.K. 162 Wis. 2d 431, 469 N.W.2d 881 (Ct. App. 1991).
48.415 Annotation The abandonment period under sub. (1) (a) 3. need not immediately precede filing of the petition. If abandonment is found, termination is still discretionary. In Interest of T.P.S. 168 Wis. 2d 259, 483 N.W.2d 591 (Ct. App. 1992).
48.415 Annotation While the CHIPS judge must notify the parents of possible termination grounds in the written dispositional order and repeat that information orally to any parent present in court, proof that the oral notice was given is not required in later termination proceedings under sub. (2) (a). In Interest of D.P. 170 Wis. 2d 313, 488 N.W.2d 133 (Ct. App. 1992).
48.415 Annotation A developmentally disabled father's allegation that the county, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, did not take into account his disability in attempting to provide court ordered services was not a basis to attack a termination proceeding. The ADA did not place an added burden on the county to meet the requirements of sub. (2) (b) [now sub. (2) (a) 2.]. In Interest of Torrence P. 187 Wis. 2d 10, 522 N.W.2d 243 (Ct. App. 1994).
48.415 Annotation A child “left with" another person under sub. (1) (a) 3. may have been actively placed with the other person by the parent or allowed to live with the other person with the parent's knowledge. Interest of Christopher D. 191 Wis. 2d 681, 530 N.W.2d 34 (Ct. App. 1995).
48.415 Annotation “Disassociated" under sub. (1) (c) is not unconstitutionally vague. Disassociation means more than “failure to visit or communicate" under sub. (1) (a). Interest of Christopher D. 191 Wis. 2d 681, 530 N.W.2d 34 (Ct. App. 1995).
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2015-16 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2017 Wis. Act 2 and all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders effective on or before March 27, 2017. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after March 27, 2017 are designated by NOTES. (Published 3-27-17)