2012 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
895. Damages, liability, and miscellaneous provisions regarding actions in courts.
895.035 Parental liability for acts of minor child.


WI Stat § 895.035 (2012 through Act 45) What's This?

895.035 Parental liability for acts of minor child.

895.035(1) (1)

895.035(1)(a) (a) In this section, "custody" means either legal custody of a child under a court order under s. 767.225 or 767.41, custody of a child under a stipulation under s. 767.34 or actual physical custody of a child. "Custody" does not include legal custody, as defined under s. 48.02 (12), by an agency or a person other than a child's birth or adoptive parent.

895.035(1)(b) (b) In determining which parent has custody of a child for purposes of this section, the court shall consider which parent had responsibility for caring for and supervising the child at the time the act that caused the injury, damage or loss occurred.

895.035(2) (2)

895.035(2)(a)(a) The parent or parents with custody of a minor child, in any circumstances where he, she, or they may not be liable under the common law, are liable for damages to property, for the cost of repairing or replacing property or removing the marking, drawing, writing, or etching from property regarding a violation under s. 943.017, for the value of unrecovered stolen property, or for personal injury attributable to a willful, malicious, or wanton act of the child.

895.035(2)(b) (b)

895.035(2)(b)1.1. The parent or parents with custody of their minor child are jointly and severally liable with the child for the damages imposed under s. 943.51 for their child's violation of s. 943.50.

895.035(2)(b)2. 2. If a parent is jointly and severally liable under this paragraph and has physical placement of the child, the parent's liability is limited to that percentage representing the time that the child actually spends with that parent.

895.035(2)(b)3. 3. Notwithstanding sub. (1), a parent does not have custody of a child for purposes of this paragraph if at the time of the violation the child has been freed from the care, custody, and control of the parent through marriage or emancipation or if at the time of the violation the parent does not reasonably have the ability to exercise supervision and control of the child because the child is uncontrollable or because another person has interfered with that parent's exercise of supervision and control.

895.035(2g) (2g) The parent or parents with custody of a minor child are liable for the cost of the repair or replacement of, or the removal of the etching, marking, drawing or writing from, property damaged as the result of a violation of an ordinance that prohibits intentional etching or marking, drawing or writing with paint, ink or other substance on the physical property of another without the other's consent.

895.035(2m) (2m)

895.035(2m)(a)(a) If a juvenile or a parent with custody of a juvenile fails to pay restitution under s. 938.245, 938.32, 938.34 (5), 938.343 (4), 938.345 or 938.45 (1r) (a) as ordered by a court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938, a court of criminal jurisdiction or a municipal court or as agreed to in a deferred prosecution agreement or if it appears likely that the juvenile or parent will not pay restitution as ordered or agreed to, the victim, the victim's insurer, the representative of the public interest under s. 938.09 or the agency, as defined in s. 938.38 (1) (a), supervising the juvenile may petition the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 to order that the amount of restitution unpaid by the juvenile or parent be entered and docketed as a judgment against the juvenile and the parent with custody of the juvenile and in favor of the victim or the victim's insurer, or both. A petition under this paragraph may be filed after the expiration of the deferred prosecution agreement, consent decree, dispositional order or sentence under which the restitution is payable, but no later than one year after the expiration of the deferred prosecution agreement, consent decree, dispositional order or sentence or any extension of the consent decree, dispositional order or sentence. A judgment rendered under this paragraph does not bar the victim or the victim's insurer, or both, from commencing another action seeking compensation from the juvenile or the parent, or both, if the amount of restitution ordered under this paragraph is less than the total amount of damages claimed by the victim or the victim's insurer.

895.035(2m)(b) (b) If a juvenile or a parent with custody of a juvenile fails to pay a forfeiture as ordered by a court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938, a court of criminal jurisdiction or a municipal court, if a juvenile or a parent with custody of a juvenile fails to pay costs as ordered by the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 or a municipal court, if a juvenile fails to pay a surcharge as ordered by a court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 or a court of criminal jurisdiction or if it appears likely that the juvenile or the parent will not pay the forfeiture or surcharge as ordered, the representative of the public interest under s. 938.09, the agency, as defined in s. 938.38 (1) (a), supervising the juvenile or the law enforcement agency that issued the citation to the juvenile may petition the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 to order that the amount of the forfeiture, surcharge or costs unpaid by the juvenile or parent be entered and docketed as a judgment against the juvenile and the parent with custody of the juvenile and in favor of the county or appropriate municipality. A petition under this paragraph may be filed after the expiration of the dispositional order or sentence under which the forfeiture, surcharge or costs is payable, but no later than one year after the expiration of the dispositional order or sentence or any extension of the dispositional order or sentence.

895.035(2m)(bm) (bm)

895.035(2m)(bm)1.1. Before issuing an order under par. (a) or (b), the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 shall give the juvenile and the parent notice of the intent to issue the order and an opportunity to be heard regarding the order. The court shall give the juvenile and the parent an opportunity to present evidence as to the amount of the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge unpaid, but not as to the amount of the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge originally ordered. The court shall also give the juvenile and the parent an opportunity to present evidence as to the reason for the failure to pay the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge and the ability of the juvenile or the parent to pay the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge. In considering the ability of the juvenile or the parent to pay the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge, the court may consider the assets, as well as the income, of the juvenile or the parent and may consider the future ability of the juvenile or parent to pay the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge within the time specified in s. 893.40.

895.035(2m)(bm)2. 2. In proceedings under this subsection, the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 may take judicial notice of any deferred prosecution agreement, consent decree, dispositional order, sentence, extension of a consent decree, dispositional order or sentence or any other finding or order in the records of the juvenile maintained by that court or the municipal court.

895.035(2m)(bm)3. 3. In proceedings under this subsection, the juvenile and the parent may retain counsel of their own choosing at their own expense, but a juvenile or a parent has no right to be represented by appointed counsel in a proceeding under this subsection.

895.035(2m)(c) (c) The court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 may order that the juvenile perform community service work for a public agency or nonprofit charitable organization that is designated by the court in lieu of making restitution or paying the forfeiture or surcharge. If the parent agrees to perform community service work in lieu of making restitution or paying the forfeiture or surcharge, the court may order that the parent perform community service work for a public agency or a nonprofit charitable organization that is designated by the court. Community service work may be in lieu of restitution only if also agreed to by the public agency or nonprofit charitable organization and by the person to whom restitution is owed. The court may utilize any available resources, including any community service work program, in ordering the juvenile or parent to perform community service work. The number of hours of community service work required may not exceed the number determined by dividing the amount owed on the restitution, forfeiture or surcharge by the minimum wage established under ch. 104 for adults in nonagriculture, nontipped employment. The court shall ensure that the juvenile or parent is provided with a written statement of the terms of the community service order and that the community service order is monitored.

895.035(3) (3) An adjudication under s. 938.183 or 938.34 that the juvenile violated a civil law or ordinance, is delinquent or is in need of protection and services under s. 938.13 (12), based on proof that the juvenile committed the act, subject to its admissibility under s. 904.10, shall, in an action under sub. (1), stop a juvenile's parent or parents from denying that the juvenile committed the act that resulted in the injury, damage or loss.

895.035(4) (4) Except for recovery under sub. (4a) or for retail theft under s. 943.51, the maximum recovery under this section from any parent or parents may not exceed $5,000 for damages resulting from any one act of a juvenile in addition to taxable costs and disbursements and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the court. If 2 or more juveniles in the custody of the same parent or parents commit the same act the total recovery under this section may not exceed $5,000, in addition to taxable costs and disbursements. The maximum recovery from any parent or parents for retail theft by their minor child is established under s. 943.51.

895.035(4a) (4a)

895.035(4a)(a)(a) The maximum recovery under this section by a school board or a governing body of a private school from any parent or parents with custody of a minor child may not exceed $20,000 for damages resulting from any one act of the minor child in addition to taxable costs and disbursements and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the court, for damages caused to the school board or the governing body of a private school by any of the following actions of the minor child:

895.035(4a)(a)1. 1. An act or threat that endangers the property, health or safety of persons at the school or under the supervision of a school authority or that damages the property of a school board or the governing body of a private school and that results in a substantial disruption of a school day or a school activity.

895.035(4a)(a)2. 2. An act resulting in a violation of s. 943.01, 943.02, 943.03, 943.05, 943.06 or 947.015.

895.035(4a)(b) (b) In addition to other recoverable damages, damages under par. (a) may include the cost to the school board or the governing body of a private school in loss of instructional time directly resulting from the action of the minor child under par. (a).

895.035(4a)(c) (c) If 2 or more minor children in the custody of the same parent or parents are involved in the same action under par. (a), the total recovery may not exceed $20,000, in addition to taxable costs, disbursements and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the court.

895.035(4a)(d) (d) If an insurance policy does not explicitly provide coverage for actions under par. (a), the issuer of that policy is not liable for the damages resulting from those actions.

895.035(5) (5) This section does not limit the amount of damages recoverable by an action against a child or children except that any amount so recovered shall be reduced and apportioned by the amount received from the parent or parents under this section.

895.035(6) (6) Any recovery of restitution under this section shall be reduced by the amount recovered as restitution for the same act under s. 938.245, 938.32, 938.34 (5), 938.343 (4) or 938.45 (1r) (a). Any recovery of a forfeiture under this section shall be reduced by the amount recovered as a forfeiture for the same act under s. 938.34 (8), 938.343 (2) or 938.45 (1r) (b). Any recovery of a surcharge under this section shall be reduced by the amount recovered as a surcharge under s. 938.34 (8d).

895.035(7) (7) This section does not affect or limit any liability of a parent under s. 167.10 (7) or 343.15 (2).

History: 1985 a. 311; 1987 a. 27; 1993 a. 71; 1995 a. 24, 77, 262, 352; 1997 a. 27, 35, 205, 239, 252; 1999 a. 9, 32; 2003 a. 138; 2005 a. 443 s. 265.

This section imposes absolute liability on parents once all elements have been established. Accordingly, the defense of contributory negligence is unavailable to parents. First Bank Southeast v. Bentkowski, 138 Wis. 2d 283, 405 N.W.2d 764 (Ct. App. 1987).

An "act" under sub. (4) is a complete course of conduct. What distinguishes a single act from multiple acts is whether: 1) a sufficient period of time separates the conduct; 2) the conduct occurred at separate locations; and 3) there is a distinct difference in the nature of the conduct. In cases of improper sexual contact, the jury need not make an individual damage determination for each act. N.E.M. v. Strigel, 208 Wis. 2d 1, 559 N.W.2d 256 (1997), 95-0755.

Under s. 938.34 (5) (a) assessing the damages to the victim is the first step in the court's determination of restitution and determining the amount the juvenile is capable of paying is the second. Whichever amount is lower is the maximum amount that the court may order as restitution. Under sub. (2m) (a) courts are without authority to order that the "total damage" figure be converted to a civil judgment. Sub. (2m) (a) allows only for the conversion of restitution. State v. Anthony D. 2006 WI App 218, 296 Wis. 2d 771, 723 N.W. 2d 775, 05-2644.

The constitutional validity of parental liability statutes. O'Connor, 55 MLR 584.

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