767.405(1) (1) Definitions. In this section:
767.405(1)(a) (a) "Mediation" means a cooperative process involving the parties and a mediator, the purpose of which is to help the parties, by applying communication and dispute resolution skills, define and resolve their own disagreements, with the best interest of the child as the paramount consideration.
767.405(1)(b) (b) "Mediator" means a person with special skills and training in dispute resolution.
767.405(1m) (1m)Director.
767.405(1m)(a)(a) Except as provided in par. (b) and subject to approval by the chief judge of the judicial administrative district, the circuit judge or judges in each county shall designate a person meeting the qualifications under sub. (4) as the director of family court services in that county.
767.405(1m)(b) (b) If 2 or more contiguous counties enter into a cooperative agreement under sub. (3) (b), the circuit judges for the counties involved shall, subject to approval by the chief judge of the judicial administrative district, designate a person meeting the qualifications under sub. (4) as the director of family court services for those counties.
767.405(1m)(c) (c) A county or counties may designate the supervisor of the office of family court commissioner as the director under par. (a) or (b).
767.405(2) (2)Duties. A director of family court services designated under sub. (1m) shall administer a family court services office if such an office is established under sub. (3) (a) or (b). Regardless of whether the office is established, the director shall:
767.405(2)(a) (a) Employ staff to perform mediation and to perform any legal custody and physical placement study services authorized under sub. (14), arrange and monitor staff training, and assign and monitor staff case load.
767.405(2)(b) (b) Contract under sub. (3) (c) with a person or public or private entity to perform mediation and to perform any legal custody and physical placement study services authorized under sub. (14).
767.405(2)(c) (c) Supervise and perform mediation and any legal custody and physical placement study services authorized under sub. (14), and evaluate the quality of the mediation or study services.
767.405(2)(d) (d) Administer and manage funding for family court services.
767.405(3) (3)Mediation provided. Mediation shall be provided in every county in this state by any of the following means:
767.405(3)(a) (a) A county may establish a family court services office to provide mediation in that county.
767.405(3)(b) (b) Two or more contiguous counties may enter into a cooperative agreement to establish one family court services office to provide mediation in those counties.
767.405(3)(c) (c) A director of family court services designated under sub. (1m) may contract with any person or public or private entity, located in a county in which the director administers family court services or in a contiguous county, to provide mediation in the county in which the person or entity is located.
767.405(4) (4)Mediator qualifications. Every mediator assigned under sub. (6) (a) shall have not less than 25 hours of mediation training or not less than 3 years of professional experience in dispute resolution. Every mediator assigned under sub. (6) (a) shall have training on the dynamics of domestic violence and the effects of domestic violence on victims of domestic violence and on children.
767.405(5) (5)Mediation referrals.
767.405(5)(a)(a) Except as provided in sub. (8) (b), in any action affecting the family, including a revision of judgment or order under s. 767.451 or 767.59, in which it appears that legal custody or physical placement is contested, the court shall refer the parties to the director of family court services for possible mediation of those contested issues. The court shall inform the parties of all of the following:
767.405(5)(a)1. 1. That the confidentiality of communications in mediation is waived if the parties stipulate under sub. (14) (c) that the person who provided mediation to the parties may also conduct the legal custody or physical placement study under sub. (14).
767.405(5)(a)2. 2. That the court may waive the requirement to attend at least one mediation session if the court determines that attending the session will cause undue hardship or would endanger the health or safety of one of the parties and the bases on which the court may make its determination.
767.405(5)(b) (b) If both parties to any action affecting the family wish to have joint legal custody of a child, either party may request that the court refer the parties to the director of family court services for assistance in resolving any problem relating to joint legal custody and physical placement of the child. Upon request, the court shall so refer the parties.
767.405(5)(c) (c) A person who is awarded periods of physical placement or a child of that person, a person with visitation rights, or a person with physical custody of a child may notify a circuit court commissioner of any problem he or she has relating to any of these matters. Upon notification, the circuit court commissioner may refer any person involved in the matter to the director of family court services for assistance in resolving the problem.
767.405(6) (6)Action upon referral.
767.405(6)(a)(a) Whenever a court refers a party to the director of family court services for possible mediation, the director shall assign a mediator to the case. The mediator shall provide mediation if he or she determines that it is appropriate. If the mediator determines that mediation is not appropriate, he or she shall so notify the court. Whenever a court refers a party to the director of family court services for any other family court service, the director shall take appropriate action to provide the service.
767.405(6)(b) (b) Any intake form that the family court services requires the parties to complete before commencement of mediation shall ask each party whether either of the parties has engaged in interspousal battery, as described in s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m), or domestic abuse, as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (am).
767.405(7) (7)Private mediator. The parties to any action affecting the family may, at their own expense, receive mediation services from a mediator other than one who provides services under sub. (3). Parties who receive services from a mediator under this subsection shall sign and file with the director of family court services and with the court a written notice stating the mediator's name and the date of the first meeting with the mediator.
767.405(8) (8)Initial session of mediation required.
767.405(8)(a)(a) Except as provided in par. (b), in any action affecting the family, including an action for revision of judgment or order under s. 767.451 or 767.59, in which it appears that legal custody or physical placement is contested, the parties shall attend at least one session with a mediator assigned under sub. (6) (a) or contracted with under sub. (7) and, if the parties and the mediator determine that continued mediation is appropriate, no court may hold a trial of or a final hearing on legal custody or physical placement until after mediation is completed or terminated.
767.405(8)(b) (b) A court may, in its discretion, hold a trial or hearing without requiring attendance at the session under par. (a) if the court finds that attending the session will cause undue hardship or would endanger the health or safety of one of the parties. In making its determination of whether attendance at the session would endanger the health or safety of one of the parties, the court shall consider evidence of the following:
767.405(8)(b)1. 1. That a party engaged in abuse, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (a), of the child, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (b).
Effective date note NOTE: Subd. 1. is shown as amended eff. 8-1-14 by 2013 Wis. Act 334. Prior to 8-1-14 it reads:
Effective date text 1. That a party engaged in abuse, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (a), of the child, as defined in s. 48.02 (2).
767.405(8)(b)2. 2. Interspousal battery as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m) or domestic abuse as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (am).
767.405(8)(b)3. 3. That either party has a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse.
767.405(8)(b)4. 4. Any other evidence indicating that a party's health or safety will be endangered by attending the session.
767.405(8)(c) (c) The initial session under par. (a) shall be a screening and evaluation mediation session to determine whether mediation is appropriate and whether both parties wish to continue in mediation. At the initial session, the mediator shall review with the parties the nonfinancial provisions that must be included in the parenting plan under s. 767.41 (1m).
767.405(9) (9)Prohibited issues in mediation. If mediation is provided by a mediator assigned under sub. (6) (a), no issue relating to property division, maintenance, or child support may be considered during the mediation unless all of the following apply:
767.405(9)(a) (a) The property division, maintenance or child support issue is directly related to the legal custody or physical placement issue.
767.405(9)(b) (b) The parties agree in writing to consider the property division, maintenance or child support issue.
767.405(10) (10)Powers and duties of mediator. A mediator assigned under sub. (6) (a) shall be guided by the best interest of the child and may do any of the following, at his or her discretion:
767.405(10)(a) (a) Include the counsel of any party or any appointed guardian ad litem in the mediation.
767.405(10)(b) (b) Interview any child of the parties, with or without a party present.
767.405(10)(c) (c) Require a party to provide written disclosure of facts relating to any legal custody or physical placement issue addressed in mediation, including any financial issue permitted to be considered.
767.405(10)(d) (d) Suspend mediation when necessary to enable a party to obtain an appropriate court order or appropriate therapy.
767.405(10)(e) (e) Terminate mediation if a party does not cooperate or if mediation is not appropriate or if any of the following facts exist:
767.405(10)(e)1. 1. There is evidence that a party engaged in abuse, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (a), of the child, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (b).
Effective date note NOTE: Subd. 1. is shown as amended eff. 8-1-14 by 2013 Wis. Act 334. Prior to 8-1-14 it reads:
Effective date text 1. There is evidence that a party engaged in abuse, as defined in s. 813.122 (1) (a), of the child, as defined in s. 48.02 (2).
767.405(10)(e)2. 2. There is evidence of interspousal battery as described under s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m) or domestic abuse as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (am).
767.405(10)(e)3. 3. Either party has a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse.
767.405(10)(e)4. 4. Other evidence which indicates one of the parties' health or safety will be endangered if mediation is not terminated.
767.405(12) (12)Mediation agreement.
767.405(12)(a)(a) Any agreement that resolves issues of legal custody or periods of physical placement between the parties and that is reached as a result of mediation under this section shall be prepared in writing, reviewed by the attorney, if any, for each party and by any appointed guardian ad litem, and submitted to the court to be included in the court order as a stipulation. Any reviewing attorney or guardian ad litem shall certify on the mediation agreement that he or she reviewed it, and the guardian ad litem, if any, shall comment on the agreement based on the best interest of the child. The mediator shall certify that the written mediation agreement accurately reflects the agreement made between the parties. The court may approve or reject the agreement, based on the best interest of the child. The court shall state in writing its reasons for rejecting an agreement.
767.405(12)(b) (b) If after mediation under this section the parties do not reach agreement on legal custody or periods of physical placement, the parties or the mediator shall so notify the court. Except as provided in s. 767.407 (1) (am), the court shall promptly appoint a guardian ad litem under s. 767.407. Regardless of whether the court appoints a guardian ad litem, the court shall, if appropriate, refer the matter for a legal custody or physical placement study under sub. (14). If the parties come to agreement on legal custody or physical placement after the matter has been referred for a study, the study shall be terminated. The parties may return to mediation at any time before any trial of or final hearing on legal custody or periods of physical placement. If the parties return to mediation, the county shall collect any applicable fee under s. 814.615.
767.405(13) (13)Powers of court. Except as provided in sub. (8), referring parties to mediation under this section does not affect the power of the court to make any necessary order relating to the parties during the course of the mediation.
767.405(14) (14)Legal custody and physical placement study.
767.405(14)(a)(a) A county or 2 or more contiguous counties shall provide legal custody and physical placement study services. The county or counties may elect to provide these services by any of the means set forth in sub. (3) with respect to mediation. Regardless of whether a county so elects, whenever legal custody or physical placement of a minor child is contested and mediation under this section is not used or does not result in agreement between the parties, or at any other time the court considers it appropriate, the court may order a person or entity designated by the county to investigate the following matters relating to the parties:
767.405(14)(a)1. 1. The conditions of the child's home.
767.405(14)(a)2. 2. Each party's performance of parental duties and responsibilities relating to the child.
767.405(14)(a)2m. 2m. Whether either party has engaged in interspousal battery, as described in s. 940.19 or 940.20 (1m), or domestic abuse, as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (am).
767.405(14)(a)3. 3. Any other matter relevant to the best interest of the child.
767.405(14)(b)1.1. The person or entity investigating the parties under par. (a) shall complete the investigation, prepare a report of the results, and, at least 10 days before the report is introduced into evidence under subd. 2., submit the report to the court and to both parties. The court may review the report, but may not rely upon it as evidence before it is properly introduced under subd. 2.
767.405(14)(b)2. 2. The report under subd. 1. shall be offered in accordance with the rules of evidence and shall be a part of the record in the action if it is so offered and admitted into evidence.
767.405(14)(c) (c) No person who provided mediation to the parties under this section may investigate the parties under this subsection unless each party personally so consents by written stipulation after mediation has ended and after receiving notice from the person who provided mediation that consent waives the inadmissibility of communications in mediation under s. 904.085.
767.405 History History: 1987 a. 355; 1989 a. 56; 1991 a. 269; Sup. Ct. Order No. 93-03, 179 Wis. 2d xv; 1995 a. 275, 343; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 61, 109; 2003 a. 130; 2005 a. 443 ss. 8, 56, 57, 181; Stats. 2005 s. 767.405; 2007 a. 187; 2009 a. 187; 2013 a. 334.
767.405 Note NOTE: 1987 Wis. Act 355 and 2005 Wis. Act 443 contain explanatory notes.
767.405 Note Judicial Council Note, 1993. Subsections (5) (a) and (14) (c) are amended because the rule of inadmissibility under s. 904.085 is not a privilege; it is waivable only if the parties stipulate that the mediator may conduct the custody investigation.
767.405 Annotation The director is an agent of the circuit court judges, and the director's statutory authority and responsibilities are to be carried out under the supervision of the circuit court judges. A collective bargaining agreement cannot trump such statutory, judicial branch authority because doing so would violate separation of powers principles. A collective bargaining agreement may not abrogate a statutory function of the judicial branch. Any such provisions in a collective bargaining agreement are invalid and unenforceable. Racine County v. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, 2008 WI 70, 310 Wis. 2d 508, 751 N.W.2d 312, 06-0964.
767.407 767.407 Guardian ad litem for minor children.
767.407(1)(1) Appointment.
767.407(1)(a)(a) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor child in any action affecting the family if any of the following conditions exists:
767.407(1)(a)1. 1. The court has reason for special concern as to the welfare of a minor child.
767.407(1)(a)2. 2. Except as provided in par. (am), the legal custody or physical placement of the child is contested.
767.407(1)(am) (am) The court is not required to appoint a guardian ad litem under par. (a) 2. if all of the following apply:
767.407(1)(am)1. 1. Legal custody or physical placement is contested in an action to modify legal custody or physical placement under s. 767.451 or 767.481.
767.407(1)(am)2. 2. The modification sought would not substantially alter the amount of time that a parent may spend with his or her child.
767.407(1)(am)3. 3. The court determines any of the following:
767.407(1)(am)3.a. a. That the appointment of a guardian ad litem will not assist the court in the determination regarding legal custody or physical placement because the facts or circumstances of the case make the likely determination clear.
767.407(1)(am)3.b. b. That a party seeks the appointment of a guardian ad litem solely for a tactical purpose, or for the sole purpose of delay, and not for a purpose that is in the best interest of the child.
767.407(1)(b) (b) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor child in any action affecting the family if the child's legal custody or physical placement is stipulated to be with any person or agency other than a parent of the child or, if at the time of the action, the child is in the legal custody of, or physically placed with, any person or agency other than the child's parent by prior order or by stipulation in this or any other action.
767.407(1)(c) (c) The attorney responsible for support enforcement under s. 59.53 (6) (a) may request that the court appoint a guardian ad litem to bring an action or motion on behalf of a minor who is a nonmarital child whose paternity has not been acknowledged under s. 767.805 (1) or a substantially similar law of another state or adjudicated for the purpose of determining the paternity of the child, and the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem, if any of the following applies:
767.407(1)(c)1. 1. Aid is provided under s. 48.57 (3m) or (3n), 48.645, 49.19, or 49.45 on behalf of the child, or benefits are provided to the child's custodial parent under ss. 49.141 to 49.161, but the state and its delegate under s. 49.22 (7) are barred by a statute of limitations from commencing an action under s. 767.80 on behalf of the child.
767.407(1)(c)2. 2. An application for legal services has been filed with the child support program under s. 49.22 on behalf of the child, but the state and its delegate under s. 49.22 (7) are barred by a statute of limitations from commencing an action under s. 767.80 on behalf of the child.
767.407(1)(d) (d) A guardian ad litem appointed under par. (c) shall bring an action or motion for the determination of the child's paternity if the guardian ad litem determines that the determination of the child's paternity is in the child's best interest.
767.407(1)(e) (e) Nothing in this subsection prohibits the court from making a temporary order under s. 767.225 that concerns the child before a guardian ad litem is appointed or before the guardian ad litem has made a recommendation to the court, if the court determines that the temporary order is in the best interest of the child.
767.407(2) (2)Time for appointment. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem under sub. (1) (a) 1. or (b) whenever the court deems it appropriate. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem under sub. (1) (a) 2. at the time specified in s. 767.405 (12) (b), unless upon motion by a party or its own motion the court determines that earlier appointment is necessary.
767.407(3) (3)Qualifications. The guardian ad litem shall be an attorney admitted to practice in this state. No person who is an interested party in a proceeding, appears as counsel in a proceeding on behalf of any party or is a relative or representative of an interested party may be appointed guardian ad litem in that proceeding.
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2011-12 Wisconsin Statutes updated though 2013 Wis. Act 380 and all Supreme Court Orders entered before June 30, 2014. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after July 1, 2014 are designated by NOTES. (Published 7-1-14)