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2013 - 2014 LEGISLATURE
January 21, 2014 - Introduced by Senator Lazich, cosponsored by Representatives
Strachota, Kooyenga, Tauchen and Thiesfeldt. Referred to Committee on
Judiciary and Labor.
SB504,1,5 1An Act to renumber and amend 48.23 (2); to amend 48.23 (2) (title); and to
2create
48.23 (2) (b) 2., 48.23 (2) (b) 3. and 48.23 (2) (c) of the statutes; relating
3to:
waiver of a parent's right to counsel in a contested adoption or an
4involuntary termination of parental rights proceeding for failure to personally
5appear as ordered by the juvenile court.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, in a proceeding involving a contested adoption or an
involuntary termination of parental rights (TPR), a parent who appears before the
court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under the Children's Code (juvenile court)
must be represented by counsel, except that a parent 18 years of age or over may
waive counsel if the juvenile court is satisfied that the waiver is knowingly and
voluntarily made. Current law, however, does not permit a parent under 18 years
of age to waive counsel in a contested adoption or involuntary TPR proceeding.
This bill provides that a parent of any age who has appeared before the juvenile
court in a contested adoption or involuntary TPR proceeding is presumed to have
waived his or her right to counsel and to appear by counsel in the proceeding if the
juvenile court has ordered the parent to appear in person at any or all subsequent
hearings in the proceeding, the parent fails to appear in person as ordered, and the
court finds that the parent's conduct in failing to appear in person was egregious and
without clear and justifiable excuse. Under the bill, failure by a parent to appear in
person at consecutive hearings as ordered is presumed to be conduct that is egregious

and without clear and justifiable excuse. The bill, however, requires a parent who
has waived counsel or who is presumed to have waived counsel to be represented by
counsel in a proceeding to vacate or reconsider a default judgment involuntarily
terminating parental rights.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
SB504,1 1Section 1. 48.23 (2) (title) of the statutes is amended to read:
SB504,2,22 48.23 (2) (title) Right of parents parent to counsel.
SB504,2 3Section 2. 48.23 (2) of the statutes is renumbered 48.23 (2) (a) and amended
4to read:
SB504,2,105 48.23 (2) (a) Whenever a child is the subject of a proceeding involving a
6contested adoption or the involuntary termination of parental rights, any parent
7under 18 years of age who appears before the court shall be represented by counsel;
8but no such parent may waive counsel.
Except as provided in sub. (2g), a minor
9parent petitioning for the a voluntary termination of parental rights shall be
10represented by a guardian ad litem. If
SB504,2,14 11(b) In a proceeding involves involving a contested adoption or the an
12involuntary termination of parental rights, any parent 18 years old or older who
13appears before the court shall be represented by counsel; but the counsel, except as
14follows:
SB504,2,16 151. A parent 18 years of age or over may waive counsel provided if the court is
16satisfied such that the waiver is knowingly and voluntarily made.
SB504,3 17Section 3. 48.23 (2) (b) 2. of the statutes is created to read:
SB504,2,1818 48.23 (2) (b) 2. A parent under 18 years of age may not waive counsel.
SB504,4 19Section 4. 48.23 (2) (b) 3. of the statutes is created to read:
SB504,3,7
148.23 (2) (b) 3. Notwithstanding subds. 1. and 2., a parent is presumed to have
2waived his or her right to counsel and to appear by counsel if the court has ordered
3the parent to appear in person at any or all subsequent hearings in the proceeding,
4the parent fails to appear in person as ordered, and the court finds that the parent's
5conduct in failing to appear in person was egregious and without clear and justifiable
6excuse. Failure by a parent to appear in person at consecutive hearings as ordered
7is presumed to be conduct that is egregious and without clear and justifiable excuse.
SB504,5 8Section 5. 48.23 (2) (c) of the statutes is created to read:
SB504,3,129 48.23 (2) (c) In a proceeding to vacate or reconsider a default judgment
10involuntarily terminating parental rights, a parent who has waived counsel under
11par. (b) 1. or who is presumed to have waived counsel under par. (b) 3. shall be
12represented by counsel.
SB504,6 13Section 6. Initial applicability.
SB504,3,1714 (1) Waiver by parent of right to counsel by failure to appear. This act first
15applies to a parent who on the effective date of this subsection is ordered to appear
16in person at a hearing in a contested adoption or an involuntary termination of
17parental rights proceeding.
SB504,3,1818 (End)
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