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48.23(1m)(a) (a) Any child held in a juvenile detention facility shall be represented by counsel at all stages of the proceedings, but a child 15 years of age or older may waive counsel if the court is satisfied that the waiver is knowingly and voluntarily made and the court accepts the waiver.
48.23(1m)(b)1.1. If a child is alleged to be in need of protection or services under s. 48.13, the child may be represented by counsel at the discretion of the court. Except as provided in subd. 2., a child 15 years of age or older may waive counsel if the court is satisfied such waiver is knowingly and voluntarily made and the court accepts the waiver.
48.23(1m)(b)2. 2. If the petition is contested, the court may not place the child outside his or her home unless the child is represented by counsel at the fact-finding hearing and subsequent proceedings. If the petition is not contested, the court may not place the child outside his or her home unless the child is represented by counsel at the hearing at which the placement is made. For a child under 12 years of age, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem instead of counsel.
48.23(1m)(c) (c) Any child subject to the jurisdiction of the court under s. 48.14 (5) shall be represented by counsel. No waiver of counsel may be accepted by the court.
48.23(1m)(cm) (cm) Any minor who is subject to the jurisdiction of the circuit court under s. 48.16 and who is required to appear in court shall be represented by counsel.
48.23(2) (2)Right of parents to counsel. Whenever a child is the subject of a proceeding involving a contested adoption or the involuntary termination of parental rights, any parent under 18 years of age who appears before the court shall be represented by counsel; but no such parent may waive counsel. Except as provided in sub. (2g), a minor parent petitioning for the voluntary termination of parental rights shall be represented by a guardian ad litem. If a proceeding involves a contested adoption or the involuntary termination of parental rights, any parent 18 years old or older who appears before the court shall be represented by counsel; but the parent may waive counsel provided the court is satisfied such waiver is knowingly and voluntarily made.
48.23(2g) (2g)Right of Indian child's parent or Indian custodian to counsel. Whenever an Indian child is the subject of a proceeding involving the removal of the Indian child from the home of his or her parent or Indian custodian, placement of the Indian child in an out-of-home care placement, or termination of parental rights to the Indian child, the Indian child's parent or Indian custodian shall have the right to be represented by counsel as provided in subs. (2) and (4).
48.23(2m) (2m)Right of expectant mother to counsel.
48.23(2m)(a)(a) When an unborn child is alleged to be in need of protection or services under s. 48.133, the expectant mother of the unborn child, if the expectant mother is a child, shall be represented by counsel and may not waive counsel.
48.23(2m)(b) (b) If a petition under s. 48.133 is contested, no expectant mother may be placed outside of her home unless the expectant mother is represented by counsel at the fact-finding hearing and subsequent proceedings. If the petition is not contested, the expectant mother may not be placed outside of her home unless the expectant mother is represented by counsel at the hearing at which the placement is made. An adult expectant mother, however, may waive counsel if the court is satisfied that the waiver is knowingly and voluntarily made and the court may place the adult expectant mother outside of her home even though the adult expectant mother was not represented by counsel.
48.23(2m)(c) (c) For an expectant mother under 12 years of age, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem instead of counsel.
48.23(3) (3)Power of the court to appoint counsel. Except in proceedings under s. 48.13, at any time, upon request or on its own motion, the court may appoint counsel for the child or any party, unless the child or the party has or wishes to retain counsel of his or her own choosing. Except as provided in sub. (2g), the court may not appoint counsel for any party other than the child in a proceeding under s. 48.13.
48.23(3m) (3m)Guardians ad litem or counsel for abused or neglected children. The court shall appoint counsel for any child alleged to be in need of protection or services under s. 48.13 (3), (3m), (10), (10m) and (11), except that if the child is less than 12 years of age the court may appoint a guardian ad litem instead of counsel. The guardian ad litem or counsel for the child may not act as counsel for any other party or any governmental or social agency involved in the proceeding and may not act as court-appointed special advocate for the child in the proceeding.
48.23(4) (4)Providing counsel. If a child has a right to be represented by counsel or is provided counsel at the discretion of the court under this section and counsel is not knowingly and voluntarily waived, the court shall refer the child to the state public defender and counsel shall be appointed by the state public defender under s. 977.08 without a determination of indigency. If the referral is of a child who has filed a petition under s. 48.375 (7), the state public defender shall appoint counsel within 24 hours after that referral. Any counsel appointed in a petition filed under s. 48.375 (7) shall continue to represent the child in any appeal brought under s. 809.105 unless the child requests substitution of counsel or extenuating circumstances make it impossible for counsel to continue to represent the child. In any situation under sub. (2), (2g), or (2m) in which a parent 18 years of age or over or an adult expectant mother is entitled to representation by counsel; counsel is not knowingly and voluntarily waived; and it appears that the parent or adult expectant mother is unable to afford counsel in full, or the parent or adult expectant mother so indicates; the court shall refer the parent or adult expectant mother to the authority for indigency determinations specified under s. 977.07 (1). In any other situation under this section in which a person has a right to be represented by counsel or is provided counsel at the discretion of the court, competent and independent counsel shall be provided and reimbursed in any manner suitable to the court regardless of the person's ability to pay, except that the court may not order a person who files a petition under s. 813.122 or 813.125 to reimburse counsel for the child who is named as the respondent in that petition.
48.23(5) (5)Counsel of own choosing. Regardless of any provision of this section, any party is entitled to retain counsel of his or her own choosing at his or her own expense in any proceeding under this chapter.
48.23 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See s. 48.275 (2), concerning contribution toward legal expenses by parent or guardian.
48.23 Annotation The court erred by failing to inform the parents of their right to a jury trial and to representation by counsel. In re Termination of Parental Rights to M. A. M. 116 Wis. 2d 432, 342 N.W.2d 410 (1984).
48.23 Annotation Neither a temporary custody order nor a custodial interrogation were proceedings under sub. (1) (a) [now (1m) (a)]. State v. Woods, 117 Wis. 2d 701, 345 N.W.2d 457 (1984).
48.23 Annotation When a party to a CHIPS action is represented by both adversary counsel and a GAL, adversary counsel must be allowed to zealously represent the client's expressed wishes, even if the GAL holds an opposing view. In Interest of T.L. 151 Wis. 2d 725, 445 N.W.2d 729 (Ct. App. 1989).
48.23 Annotation The right to be represented by counsel includes the right to effective counsel. In Interest of M.D.(S), 168 Wis. 2d 996, 485 N.W.2d 52 (1992).
48.23 Annotation The prohibition in sub. (3) against appointing counsel for a party other than the child is unconstitutional. Joni B. v. State, 202 Wis. 2d 1, 549 N.W.2d 411 (1996), 95-2757.
48.23 Annotation Sub. (4) does not say in cases other than those under s. 48.375 that appointment of counsel does not continue after an appeal has been filed. Section 809.85 provides otherwise. Juneau County Department of Human Services v. James B. 2000 WI App 86, 234 Wis. 2d 406, 610 N.W.2d 144, 99-1309.
48.23 Annotation Under Joni B., juvenile courts have discretionary authority to appoint counsel for parents in CHIPS cases. When a parent requests counsel or when circumstances raise a reasonable concern that the parent will not be able to provide meaningful self-representation, the court must exercise that discretion. State v. Tammy L.D. 2000 WI App 200, 238 Wis. 2d 516, 617 N.W.2d 894, 99-1962.
48.23 Annotation Self-representation competency standards developed in criminal cases apply to parents in termination of parental rights actions. When a defendant seeks self-representation, the circuit court must insure that the defendant: 1) has knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to counsel, and 2) is competent to so proceed. The determination of self-representation competency requires an assessment of whether a person is able to provide himself or herself with meaningful self-representation. Dane County DHS v. Susan P. S. 2006 WI App 100, 293 Wis. 2d 279, 715 N.W.2d 692, 05-3155.
48.23 Annotation This section does not provide a right to counsel only for parents who appear in person. No statutory provision deprives a parent's counsel from presenting evidence and arguing at a termination proceeding when the parent has appeared, but not in person. A mother maintained her statutory right to counsel throughout a termination proceeding after the circuit court found her in default for failing to obey the court's order to personally attend the hearing. It was prejudicial error to dismiss the mother's attorney from the proceedings and to prevent counsel from participating in the proceeding. State v. Shirley E. 2006 WI 129, 298 Wis. 2d 1, 724 N.W.2d 623, 05-2752. See also Dane County Department of Human Services v. Mable K. 2013 WI 28, 346 Wis. 2d 396, 828 N.W.2d 198, 11-0825.
48.23 Annotation `Catch 22': Ethical Dilemma for Defense Counsel in TPR Litigation. Foley. Wis. Law. Aug. 2011.
48.235 48.235 Guardian ad litem.
48.235(1)(1) Appointment.
48.235(1)(a)(a) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem in any appropriate matter under this chapter.
48.235(1)(b) (b) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor parent petitioning for the voluntary termination of parental rights.
48.235(1)(c) (c) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for any child who is the subject of a proceeding to terminate parental rights, whether voluntary or involuntary, for a child who is the subject of a contested adoption proceeding and for a child who is the subject of a proceeding under s. 48.977 or 48.978.
48.235(1)(d) (d) The circuit court may appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor in a proceeding under s. 48.375 (7) to aid the circuit court in determining under s. 48.375 (7) (c) whether or not the minor is mature and well-informed enough to make the abortion decision on her own and whether or not the performance or inducement of the abortion is in the minor's best interests.
48.235(1)(e) (e) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem, or extend the appointment of a guardian ad litem previously appointed under par. (a), for any child alleged or found to be in need of protection or services, if the court has ordered, or if a request or recommendation has been made that the court order, the child to be placed out of his or her home under s. 48.345 or 48.357.
48.235(1)(f) (f) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem, or extend the appointment of a guardian ad litem previously appointed under par. (a), for any unborn child alleged or found to be in need of protection or services.
48.235(1)(g) (g) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for a parent who is the subject of a termination of parental rights proceeding, if any assessment or examination of a parent that is ordered under s. 48.295 (1) shows that the parent is not competent to participate in the proceeding or to assist his or her counsel or the court in protecting the parent's rights in the proceeding.
48.235(2) (2)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, who appears as counsel or court-appointed special advocate in a proceeding on behalf of any party or who is a relative or representative of an interested party in a proceeding may be appointed guardian ad litem in that proceeding.
48.235(3) (3)Duties and responsibilities.
48.235(3)(a)(a) The guardian ad litem shall be an advocate for the best interests of the person or unborn child for whom the appointment is made. The guardian ad litem shall function independently, in the same manner as an attorney for a party to the action, and shall consider, but shall not be bound by, the wishes of that person or the positions of others as to the best interests of that person or unborn child. If the guardian ad litem determines that the best interests of the person are substantially inconsistent with the wishes of that person, the guardian ad litem shall so inform the court and the court may appoint counsel to represent that person. The guardian ad litem has none of the rights or duties of a general guardian.
48.235(3)(b) (b) In addition to any other duties and responsibilities required of a guardian ad litem, a guardian ad litem appointed for a child who is the subject of a proceeding under s. 48.13 or for an unborn child who is the subject of a proceeding under s. 48.133 shall do all of the following:
48.235(3)(b)1. 1. Unless granted leave by the court not to do so, personally, or through a trained designee, meet with the child or expectant mother of the unborn child, assess the appropriateness and safety of the environment of the child or unborn child and, if the child is old enough to communicate, interview the child and determine the child's goals and concerns regarding his or her placement.
48.235(3)(b)2. 2. Make clear and specific recommendations to the court concerning the best interest of the child or unborn child at every stage of the proceeding.
48.235(4) (4)Matters involving child in need of protection or services.
48.235(4)(a)(a) In any matter involving a child found to be in need of protection or services, the guardian ad litem may, if reappointed or if the appointment is continued under sub. (7), do any of the following:
48.235(4)(a)1. 1. Participate in permanency planning under ss. 48.38 and 48.43 (5).
48.235(4)(a)2. 2. Petition for a change in placement under s. 48.357.
48.235(4)(a)3. 3. Petition for termination of parental rights or any other matter specified under s. 48.14.
48.235(4)(a)4. 4. Petition for revision of dispositional orders under s. 48.363.
48.235(4)(a)5. 5. Petition for extension of dispositional orders under s. 48.365.
48.235(4)(a)6. 6. Petition for a temporary restraining order and injunction under s. 813.122 or 813.125.
48.235(4)(a)7. 7. Petition for relief from a judgment terminating parental rights under s. 48.028 or 48.46.
48.235(4)(a)7g. 7g. Petition for the appointment of a guardian under s. 48.977 (2), the revision of a guardianship order under s. 48.977 (6) or the removal of a guardian under s. 48.977 (7).
48.235(4)(a)7m. 7m. Bring an action or motion for the determination of the child's paternity under s. 767.80.
48.235(4)(a)8. 8. Perform any other duties consistent with this chapter.
48.235(4)(b) (b) The court shall order the agency identified under s. 48.33 (1) (c) as primarily responsible for the provision of services to notify the guardian ad litem, if any, regarding actions to be taken under par. (a).
48.235(4m) (4m)Matters involving unborn child in need of protection or services.
48.235(4m)(a)(a) In any matter involving an unborn child found to be in need of protection or services, the guardian ad litem may, if reappointed or if the appointment is continued under sub. (7), do any of the following:
48.235(4m)(a)1. 1. Participate in permanency planning under ss. 48.38 and 48.43 (5) after the child is born.
48.235(4m)(a)2. 2. Petition for a change in placement under s. 48.357.
48.235(4m)(a)3. 3. Petition for termination of parental rights or any other matter specified under s. 48.14 after the child is born.
48.235(4m)(a)3m. 3m. Petition for a commitment of the expectant mother of the unborn child under ch. 51 as specified in s. 48.14 (5).
48.235(4m)(a)4. 4. Petition for revision of dispositional orders under s. 48.363.
48.235(4m)(a)5. 5. Petition for extension of dispositional orders under s. 48.365.
48.235(4m)(a)6. 6. Petition for a temporary restraining order and injunction under s. 813.122 or 813.125 after the child is born.
48.235(4m)(a)7. 7. Petition for relief from a judgment terminating parental rights under s. 48.028 or 48.46 after the child is born.
48.235(4m)(a)7g. 7g. Petition for the appointment of a guardian under s. 48.977 (2), the revision of a guardianship order under s. 48.977 (6) or the removal of a guardian under s. 48.977 (7) after the child is born.
48.235(4m)(a)7m. 7m. Bring an action or motion for the determination of the child's paternity under s. 767.80 after the child is born.
48.235(4m)(a)8. 8. Perform any other duties consistent with this chapter.
48.235(4m)(b) (b) The court shall order the agency identified under s. 48.33 (1) (c) as primarily responsible for the provision of services to notify the guardian ad litem, if any, regarding actions to be taken under par. (a).
48.235(5) (5)Matters involving minor parent. The guardian ad litem for a minor parent whose parental rights are the subject of a voluntary termination proceeding shall interview the minor parent, investigate the reason for the termination of parental rights, assess the voluntariness of the consent and inform the minor parent of his or her rights and of the alternatives to, and the effect of, termination of parental rights.
48.235(5m) (5m)Matters involving contested termination of parental rights proceedings.
48.235(5m)(a)(a) In any termination of parental rights proceeding involving a child who has been found to be in need of protection or services and whose parent is contesting the termination of his or her parental rights, a guardian ad litem for a parent who has been appointed under sub. (1) (g) shall provide information to the court relating to the parent's competency to participate in the proceeding, and shall also provide assistance to the court and the parent's adversary counsel in protecting the parent's rights in the proceeding.
48.235(5m)(b) (b) The guardian ad litem may not participate in the proceeding as a party, and may not call witnesses, provide opening statements or closing arguments, or participate in any activity at trial that is required to be performed by the parent's adversary counsel.
48.235(6) (6)Communication to a jury. In jury trials under this chapter, the guardian ad litem or the court may tell the jury that the guardian ad litem represents the interests of the person or unborn child for whom the guardian ad litem was appointed.
48.235(7) (7)Termination and extension of appointment. The appointment of a guardian ad litem under sub. (1) terminates upon the entry of the court's final order or upon the termination of any appeal in which the guardian ad litem participates. The guardian ad litem may appeal, may participate in an appeal or may do neither. If an appeal is taken by any party and the guardian ad litem chooses not to participate in that appeal, he or she shall file with the appellate court a statement of reasons for not participating. Irrespective of the guardian ad litem's decision not to participate in an appeal, the appellate court may order the guardian ad litem to participate in the appeal. At any time, the guardian ad litem, any party or the person for whom the appointment is made may request in writing or on the record that the court extend or terminate the appointment or reappointment. The court may extend that appointment, or reappoint a guardian ad litem appointed under this section, after the entry of the final order or after the termination of the appeal, but the court shall specifically state the scope of the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem during the period of that extension or reappointment.
48.235(8) (8)Compensation.
48.235(8)(a)(a) A guardian ad litem appointed under this chapter shall be compensated at a rate that the court determines is reasonable, except that, if the court orders a county to pay the compensation of the guardian ad litem under par. (b) or (c) 2., the amount ordered may not exceed the compensation payable to a private attorney under s. 977.08 (4m) (b).
48.235(8)(b) (b) Subject to par. (c), the court may order either or both of the parents of a child for whom a guardian ad litem is appointed under this chapter to pay all or any part of the compensation of the guardian ad litem. In addition, upon motion by the guardian ad litem, the court may order either or both of the parents of the child to pay the fee for an expert witness used by the guardian ad litem, if the guardian ad litem shows that the use of the expert is necessary to assist the guardian ad litem in performing his or her functions or duties under this chapter. If one or both parents are indigent or if the court determines that it would be unfair to a parent to require him or her to pay, the court may order the county of venue to pay the compensation and fees, in whole or in part. If the court orders the county of venue to pay because a parent is indigent, the court may also order either or both of the parents to reimburse the county, in whole or in part, for the payment.
48.235(8)(c)1.1. In an uncontested termination of parental rights and adoption proceeding under s. 48.833, the court shall order the agency that placed the child for adoption to pay the compensation of the child's guardian ad litem.
48.235(8)(c)2. 2. In an uncontested termination of parental rights and adoption proceeding under s. 48.835 or 48.837, the court shall order the proposed adoptive parents to pay the compensation of the child's guardian ad litem. If the proposed adoptive parents are indigent, the court may order the county of venue to pay the compensation, in whole or in part, and may order the proposed adoptive parents to reimburse the county, in whole or in part, for the payment.
48.235(8)(d) (d) At any time before the final order in a proceeding in which a guardian ad litem is appointed for a child under this chapter, the court may order a parent, agency or proposed adoptive parent to place payments in an escrow account in an amount estimated to be sufficient to pay any compensation and fees payable under par. (b) or (c).
48.235(8)(e) (e) If the court orders a parent or proposed adoptive parent to reimburse a county under par. (b) or (c) 2., the court may order a separate judgment for the amount of the reimbursement in favor of the county and against the parent or proposed adoptive parent who is responsible for the reimbursement.
48.235(8)(f) (f) The court may enforce its orders under this subsection by means of its contempt powers.
48.235 History History: Sup. Ct. Order, 151 Wis. 2d xxv (1989); 1991 a. 189, 263; 1993 a. 16, 318, 395; 1995 a. 27, 275; 1997 a. 237, 292, 334; 1999 a. 149; 2005 a. 293; 2005 a. 443 s. 265; 2007 a. 20; 2009 a. 94.
48.235 Note Judicial Council Note, 1990: This section is designed to clarify when a guardian ad litem may or shall be appointed under this chapter; to define the duties of the guardian ad litem; and to require the adoptive parents to pay guardian ad litem fees in independent adoptions and the agency to do so in adoptions pursuant to s. 48.837.
48.235 Note Sub. (1) indicates when a guardian ad litem is to be appointed, leaving broad discretion to the court for such appointments.
48.235 Note Sub. (1) (b) and (c) set forth situations in which a guardian ad litem is required. While there are situations in which adversary counsel are an alternative to a guardian ad litem or more desirable and therefore required under s. 48.23, the committee concluded that the best interests of the child must be reflected by a guardian ad litem in the situations enumerated in these paragraphs.
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2011-12 Wisconsin Statutes updated though 2013 Wis. Act 200 and all Supreme Court Orders entered before April 18, 2014. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after April 18, 2014 are designated by NOTES. (Published 4-18-14)