“County department" means a county department under s. 46.22
, 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
“Dental care,” for purposes of providing ordinary medical and dental care, means routine dental care, including diagnostic and preventative services, and treatment including restoring teeth, tooth extractions, and use of nitrous oxide.
“Department" means the department of children and families.
“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)
and that provides care and maintenance for no more than 4 children or, if necessary to enable a sibling group to remain together, for no more than 6 children or, if the department promulgates rules permitting a different number of children, for the number of children permitted under those rules.
“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, as provided in s. 48.625 (1)
“Guardian" means the person named by the court having the duty and authority of guardianship.
“Indian" means any person who is a member of an Indian tribe or who is an Alaska native and a member of a regional corporation, as defined in 43 USC 1606
“Indian child" means any unmarried person who is under the age of 18 years and is affiliated with an Indian tribe in any of the following ways:
As a person who is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.
“Indian child's tribe" means one of the following:
The Indian tribe in which an Indian child is a member or eligible for membership.
In the case of an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in more than one tribe, the Indian tribe with which the Indian child has the more significant contacts.
“Indian custodian" means an Indian person who has legal custody of an Indian child under tribal law or custom or under state law or to whom temporary physical care, custody, and control has been transferred by the parent of the child.
“Indian tribe" means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians that is recognized as eligible for the services provided to Indians by the U.S. secretary of the interior because of Indian status, including any Alaska native village, as defined in 43 USC 1602
“Judge", if used without further qualification, means the judge of the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 938
“Juvenile detention facility" means a locked facility approved by the department of corrections under s. 301.36
for the secure, temporary holding in custody of children.
“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.
“Neglect" means failure, refusal or inability on the part of a caregiver, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.
“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.
“Out-of-home care provider" means a foster parent, guardian, relative other than a parent, or nonrelative in whose home a child is placed, or the operator of a group home, residential care center for children and youth, or shelter care facility in which a child is placed, under the placement and care responsibility of the department or a county department. “Out-of-home care provider" also includes, in the case of a child placed in a group home, residential care center for children and youth, or shelter care facility, a staff member employed on the site of that home, center, or facility who has been designated by the operator of that home, center, or facility as an out-of-home care provider for purposes of making decisions concerning the child's participation in age or developmentally appropriate activities.
“Parent" means a biological parent, a husband who has consented to the artificial insemination of his wife under s. 891.40
, or a parent by adoption. If the child is a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.803
, “parent" includes a person conclusively determined from genetic test results to be the father under s. 767.804
or a person acknowledged under s. 767.805
or a substantially similar law of another state or adjudicated to be the biological father. “Parent" does not include any person whose parental rights have been terminated. For purposes of the application of s. 48.028
and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
, “parent" means a biological parent, an Indian husband who has consented to the artificial insemination of his wife under s. 891.40
, or an Indian person who has lawfully adopted an Indian child, including an adoption under tribal law or custom, and includes, in the case of a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.803
, a person conclusively determined from genetic test results to be the father under s. 767.804
, a person acknowledged under s. 767.805
, a substantially similar law of another state, or tribal law or custom to be the biological father, or a person adjudicated to be the biological father, but does not include any person whose parental rights have been terminated.
“Physical custody" means actual custody of the person in the absence of a court order granting legal custody to the physical custodian.
“Physical injury" includes but is not limited to lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising or great bodily harm, as defined in s. 939.22 (14)
“Qualifying residential family-based treatment facility” means a certified residential family-based alcohol or drug abuse treatment facility that meets all of the following criteria:
The treatment facility provides, as part of the treatment for substance abuse, parenting skills training, parent education, and individual and family counseling.
The substance abuse treatment, parenting skills training, parent education, and individual and family counseling is provided under an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma and in accordance with recognized principles of a trauma-informed approach and trauma-specific interventions to address the consequences of trauma and facilitate healing.
“Reasonable and prudent parent standard" means a standard for an out-of-home care provider to use in making decisions concerning a child's participation in age or developmentally appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities that is characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, best interests, and cultural, religious, and tribal values of the child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child.
“Relative" means a parent, stepparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, first cousin, 2nd cousin, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, stepuncle, stepaunt, or any person of a preceding generation as denoted by the prefix of grand, great, or great-great, whether by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, or the spouse of any person named in this subsection, even if the marriage is terminated by death or divorce. For purposes of the application of s. 48.028
and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
, “relative" includes an extended family member, as defined in s. 48.028 (2) (am)
, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, including adoption under tribal law or custom. For purposes of placement of a child, “relative" also includes a parent of a sibling of the child who has legal custody of that sibling.
“Residential care center for children and youth" 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.
“Secretary" means the secretary of children and families.
“Secured residential care center for children and youth" has the meaning given in s. 938.02 (15g)
“Shelter care facility" means a nonsecure place of temporary care and physical custody for children, including a holdover room, licensed by the department under s. 48.66 (1) (a)
“Special treatment or care" means professional services which need to be provided to a child or his or her family to protect the well-being of the child, prevent placement of the child outside the home or meet the special needs of the child. “Special treatment or care" also means professional services which need to be provided to the expectant mother of an unborn child to protect the physical health of the unborn child and of the child when born from the harmful effects resulting from the habitual lack of self-control of the expectant mother in the use of alcohol, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree. This term includes, but is not limited to, medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, alcohol or other drug abuse treatment or other services which the court finds to be necessary and appropriate.
“Standardized assessment” means an assessment, using a tool determined by the department, of the strengths and needs of a child to determine appropriateness of a placement in a residential care center, group home, or shelter care facility certified under s. 48.675
. This definition does not apply to s. 48.62 (8) (b)
“Trial" means a fact-finding hearing to determine jurisdiction.
“Tribal court" means a court that has jurisdiction over Indian child custody proceedings, and that is either a court of Indian offenses or a court established and operated under the code or custom of an Indian tribe, or any other administrative body of an Indian tribe that is vested with authority over Indian child custody proceedings.
“Unborn child" means a human being from the time of fertilization to the time of birth.
History: 1971 c. 41
; 1971 c. 164
; 1973 c. 263
; 1977 c. 205
; 1979 c. 135
; 1981 c. 81
; 1983 a. 189
; 1985 a. 176
; 1987 a. 27
; 1989 a. 31
; Sup. Ct. Order, 151 Wis. 2d xxv (1989); 1989 a. 107
; 1991 a. 39
; 1993 a. 98
; 1995 a. 27
, 9126 (19)
, 9145 (1)
; 1995 a. 77
; 1997 a. 27
; 1999 a. 9
; 2001 a. 16
; 2005 a. 113
; 2005 a. 443
; 2007 a. 20
; 2009 a. 28
; 2009 a. 94
; 2009 a. 185
; 2009 a. 302
; 2013 a. 362
; 2015 a. 101
; 2017 a. 34
; 2019 a. 9
; 2021 a. 42
Under sub. (13), a deceased parent continues to be parent; a deceased parent's parents continue to be grandparents. H.F. v. T.F., 168 Wis. 2d 62
, 483 N.W.2d 803
A viable fetus is not a “person" within the definition of a child under sub. (2). State ex rel. Angela M.W. v. Kruzicki, 209 Wis. 2d 112
, 561 N.W.2d 729
While the second sentence of sub. (13) applies exclusively to nonmarital children, the first sentence does not apply exclusively to children of married individuals. The biological father of a nonmarital child satisfies the definition of parent in sub. (13) as he is a biological parent notwithstanding that he has not officially been adjudicated as the child's biological father. State v. James P., 2005 WI 80
, 281 Wis. 2d 685
, 698 N.W.2d 95
An interpretation of “severe bruising" under sub. (14g) that includes consideration of the circumstances surrounding the physical injury is reasonable. A child's bruises were severe based on the combination of: 1) the sensitive location of the bruising, on the child's skull; 2) the vulnerability of a child of the victim's age; and 3) the means by which the court determined the bruises were created, by an adult hand pressing on the child's skull. Kristi L.M. v. Dennis E.M., 2007 WI 85
, 302 Wis. 2d 185
, 734 N.W.2d 375
Under former sub. (13), 2017 stats., parentage may be established in one of three ways: 1) by initiating a paternity action under s. 767.80; 2) by petitioning for adoption under this chapter; or 3) by virtue of the presumption established by the artificial insemination statute. While a circuit court possesses common law authority to order visitation, it has no authority outside of the statutes to confer parental rights. Dustardy H. v. Bethany H., 2011 WI App 2
, 331 Wis. 2d 158
, 794 N.W.2d 230
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
Construing sub. (1) (gm) and s. 813.122 as allowing a trial court to consider evidence of the treatment a respondent obtained or steps a respondent took to ameliorate a child's symptoms of emotional damage after the filing of the petition but prior to the injunction hearing would undercut the purpose of the injunction, which is to protect a child from an abusive situation. In light of Wisconsin's strong and long-standing interest in the protection and well-being of its minors, interpreting these statutes in a manner that would allow a respondent to undercut the purpose of the statute would be unreasonable. S.O. v. T.R., 2016 WI App 24
, 367 Wis. 2d 669
, 877 N.W.2d 408
Evidence of the treatment obtained or steps taken by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian to address and remedy his or her actions can benefit the child within the meaning sub. (1) (gm) and s. 813.122. However, when evidence of such actions is introduced to establish that the parent, guardian, or legal custodian has not “neglected, refused or been unable ... to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to ameliorate the symptoms," there must also be testimony or other evidence showing an actual benefit to the child in terms of treating the child and ameliorating the child's symptoms of emotional abuse. S.O. v. T.R., 2016 WI App 24
, 367 Wis. 2d 669
, 877 N.W.2d 408
Viewpoint: Wisconsin's Undeveloped Surrogacy Law. Walsh. Wis. Law. Mar. 2012.
Child Abuse: Beware the “Unsubstantiated” Finding. Kornblum & Pollack. Wis. Law. Sept. 2018.
governs the electronic filing of documents under this chapter.
Sup. Ct. Order No. 14-03
, 2016 WI 29, 368 Wis. 2d xiii.
Except as limited by an order of the court under s. 48.977 (5) (b)
or 48.978 (6) (b) 2.
, a person appointed by the court to be the guardian of a child under this chapter has the duty and authority to make important decisions in matters having a permanent effect on the life and development of the child and the duty to be concerned about the child's general welfare, including but not limited to:
The authority to consent to marriage, enlistment in the U.S. armed forces, major medical, psychiatric and surgical treatment, and obtaining a motor vehicle operator's license.
The authority to represent the child in legal actions and make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child but not the authority to deny the child the assistance of counsel as required by this chapter.
The right and duty of reasonable visitation of the child.
The rights and responsibilities of legal custody except when legal custody has been vested in another person or when the child is under the supervision of the department of corrections under s. 938.183
, 938.34 (4h)
, or 938.357 (3)
or the supervision of a county department under s. 938.34 (4d)
, or (4n)
A guardian may not recover for the loss of society and companionship of a ward, nor may the guardian bring a separate claim for costs incurred or income lost on account of injuries to the ward. Conant v. Physicians Plus Medical Group, Inc., 229 Wis. 2d 271
, 600 N.W.2d 21
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-3285
A guardian has general authority to consent to medication for a ward, but may consent to psychotropic medication only in accordance with ss. 880.07 (1m) and 880.33 (4m) and (4r). The guardian's authority to consent to medication or medical treatment of any kind is not affected by an order for protective placement or services. OAG 5-99
Declaration of paternal interest in matters affecting children. 48.025(1)(1)
Any person claiming to be the father of 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 may, in accordance with procedures under this section, file with the department a declaration of his interest in matters affecting the child. The department may not charge a fee for filing a declaration under this section.
A declaration under sub. (1)
may be filed at any time before a termination of the father's parental rights under subch. VIII
. This paragraph does not apply to a declaration that is filed on or after July 1, 2006.
A declaration under sub. (1)
may be filed at any time before the birth of the child or within 14 days after the birth of the child, except that a man who receives a notice under s. 48.42 (1g) (b)
may file a declaration within 21 days after the date on which the notice was mailed. This paragraph does not apply to a declaration filed before July 1, 2006.
The declaration shall be in writing, shall be signed and verified upon oath or affirmation by the person filing the declaration, and shall contain the person's name and address, the name and last-known address of the mother, the month and year of the birth or expected birth of the child, and a statement that the person filing the declaration has reason to believe that he may be the father of the child. If the person filing the declaration is under 18 years of age, the declaration shall also be signed by a parent or guardian of the person.
A person who has filed a declaration under sub. (1)
may revoke the declaration at any time by filing with the department a statement, signed and verified upon oath or affirmation, that the person, to the best of his knowledge and belief, is not the father of the child or that another person has been adjudicated as the father of the child. If the person filing the revocation is under 18 years of age, the revocation shall also be signed by a parent or guardian of the person.