2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.299 Procedures at hearings.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.299 (2017)

48.299 Procedures at hearings.

(1)

(a) The general public shall be excluded from hearings under this chapter and from hearings by courts exercising jurisdiction under s. 48.16 unless a public fact-finding hearing is demanded by a child through his or her counsel, by an expectant mother through her counsel, or by an unborn child's guardian ad litem. However, the court shall refuse to grant the public hearing in a proceeding other than a proceeding under s. 48.375 (7), if a parent, guardian, expectant mother, or unborn child's guardian ad litem objects.

(ag) In a proceeding other than a proceeding under s. 48.375 (7), if a public hearing is not held, only the parties and their counsel or guardian ad litem, the court-appointed special advocate for the child, the child's foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2), witnesses, and other persons requested by a party and approved by the court may be present, except that the court may exclude a foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2) from any portion of the hearing if that portion of the hearing deals with sensitive personal information of the child or the child's family or if the court determines that excluding the foster parent or other physical custodian would be in the best interests of the child. Except in a proceeding under s. 48.375 (7), any other person the court finds to have a proper interest in the case or in the work of the court, including a member of the bar or a person engaged in the bona fide research, monitoring, or evaluation of activities conducted under 42 USC 629h, as determined by the director of state courts, may be admitted by the court.

(ar) All hearings under s. 48.375 (7) shall be held in chambers, unless a public fact-finding hearing is demanded by the child through her counsel. In a proceeding under s. 48.375 (7), the child's foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2) may be present if requested by a party and approved by the court.

(b) Except as provided in ss. 48.375 (7) (e) and 48.396, any person who divulges any information which would identify the child, the expectant mother or the family involved in any proceeding under this chapter shall be subject to ch. 785.

(3) If the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child, and if the child's counsel or guardian ad litem consents, the child may be temporarily excluded by the court from a hearing on a petition alleging that the child is in need of protection or services. If the court finds that a child under 7 years of age is too young to comprehend the hearing, and that it is in the best interest of the child, the child may be excluded from the entire hearing.

(4)

(a) Chapters 901 to 911 shall govern the presentation of evidence at the fact-finding hearings under ss. 48.31, 48.42, 48.977 (4) (d) and 48.978 (2) (e) and (3) (f) 2.

(b) Except as provided in s. 901.05, neither common law nor statutory rules of evidence are binding at a hearing for a child held in custody under s. 48.21, a hearing for an adult expectant mother held in custody under s. 48.213, a runaway home hearing under s. 48.227 (4), a dispositional hearing, or a hearing about changes in placement, trial reunifications, revision of dispositional orders, extension of dispositional orders, or termination of guardianship orders entered under s. 48.977 (4) (h) 2. or (6) or 48.978 (2) (j) 2. or (3) (g). At those hearings, the court shall admit all testimony having reasonable probative value, but shall exclude immaterial, irrelevant, or unduly repetitious testimony or evidence that is inadmissible under s. 901.05. Hearsay evidence may be admitted if it has demonstrable circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. The court shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law. The court shall apply the basic principles of relevancy, materiality, and probative value to proof of all questions of fact. Objections to evidentiary offers and offers of proof of evidence not admitted may be made and shall be noted in the record.

(5) On request of any party, unless good cause to the contrary is shown, any hearing under s. 48.209 (1) (e), 48.21 (1) or 48.213 (1) may be held on the record by telephone or live audiovisual means or testimony may be received by telephone or live audiovisual means as prescribed in s. 807.13 (2). The request and the showing of good cause for not conducting the hearing or admitting testimony by telephone or live audiovisual means may be made by telephone.

(6) If a man who has been given notice under s. 48.27 (3) (b) 1. appears at any hearing for which he received the notice, alleges that he is the father of the child and states that he wishes to establish the paternity of the child, all of the following apply:

(a) The court shall refer the matter to the state or to the attorney responsible for support enforcement under s. 59.53 (6) (a) for a determination, under s. 767.80, of whether an action should be brought for the purpose of determining the paternity of the child.

(b) The state or the attorney responsible for support enforcement who receives a referral under par. (a) shall perform the duties specified under s. 767.80 (5) (c) and (6r).

(c) The court having jurisdiction over actions affecting the family shall give priority under s. 767.82 (7m) to an action brought under s. 767.80 whenever the petition filed under s. 767.80 indicates that the matter was referred by the court under par. (a).

(d) The court may stay the proceedings under this chapter pending the outcome of the paternity proceedings under subch. IX of ch. 767 if the court determines that the paternity proceedings will not unduly delay the proceedings under this chapter and the determination of paternity is necessary to the court's disposition of the child if the child is found to be in need of protection or services or if the court determines or has reason to know that the paternity proceedings may result in a finding that the child is an Indian child and in a petition by the child's parent, Indian custodian, or tribe for transfer of the proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe.

(e)

1. In this paragraph, “ genetic test" means a test that examines genetic markers present on blood cells, skin cells, tissue cells, bodily fluid cells or cells of another body material for the purpose of determining the statistical probability that a man who is alleged to be a child's father is the child's biological father.

2. The court shall, at the hearing, orally inform any man specified in sub. (6) (intro.) that he may be required to pay for any testing ordered by the court under this paragraph or under s. 885.23.

3. In addition to ordering testing as provided under s. 885.23, if the court determines that it would be in the best interests of the child, the court may order any man specified in sub. (6) (intro.) to submit to one or more genetic tests which shall be performed by an expert qualified as an examiner of genetic markers present on the cells and of the specific body material to be used for the tests, as appointed by the court. A report completed and certified by the court-appointed expert stating genetic test results and the statistical probability that the man alleged to be the child's father is the child's biological father based upon the genetic tests is admissible as evidence without expert testimony and may be entered into the record at any hearing. The court, upon request by a party, may order that independent tests be performed by other experts qualified as examiners of genetic markers present on the cells of the specific body materials to be used for the tests.

4. If the genetic tests show that an alleged father is not excluded and that the statistical probability that the alleged father is the child's biological father is 99.0 percent or higher, the court may determine that for purposes of a proceeding under this chapter, other than a proceeding under subch. VIII, the man is the child's biological parent.

5. A determination by the court under subd. 4. is not a determination of paternity under s. 48.355 (4g) (a), a judgment of paternity under ch. 767, or an adjudication of paternity under subch. VIII.

(7) If a man who has been given notice under s. 48.27 (3) (b) 1. appears at any hearing for which he received the notice but does not allege that he is the father of the child and state that he wishes to establish the paternity of the child or if no man to whom such notice was given appears at a hearing, the court may refer the matter to the state or to the attorney responsible for support enforcement under s. 59.53 (6) (a) for a determination, under s. 767.80, of whether an action should be brought for the purpose of determining the paternity of the child.

(8) As part of the proceedings under this chapter, the court may order that a record be made of any testimony of the child's mother relating to the child's paternity. A record made under this subsection is admissible in a proceeding to determine the child's paternity under subch. IX of ch. 767.

(9) If at any point in the proceeding the court determines or has reason to know that the child is an Indian child, the court shall provide notice of the proceeding to the child's parent, Indian custodian, and tribe in the manner specified in s. 48.028 (4) (a). The next hearing in the proceeding may not be held until at least 10 days after receipt of the notice by the parent, Indian custodian, and tribe or, if the identity or location of the parent, Indian custodian, or tribe cannot be determined, until at least 15 days after receipt of the notice by the U.S. secretary of the interior. On request of the parent, Indian custodian, or tribe, the court shall grant a continuance of up to 20 additional days to enable the requester to prepare for that hearing.

History: 1979 c. 300; 1981 c. 353; 1985 a. 311; 1987 a. 27; Sup. Ct. Order, 141 Wis. 2d xiii (1987); 1991 a. 263, 269; 1993 a. 16, 32, 98, 227, 228, 395; 1995 a. 77, 201, 275; 1997 a. 35, 252, 292, 334; 1999 a. 32, 149; 2005 a. 443 s. 265; 2009 a. 28, 94, 180; 2011 a. 181, 258; 2013 a. 170, 252; 2015 a. 373.

Judicial Council Note, 1988: Sub. (5) allows a judicial review of the status of a child held in a county jail, or a continuation of custody hearing, to be held by telephone conference, or telephoned testimony to be admitted at such a hearing, on request of any party, unless good cause to the contrary is shown. [Re Order effective Jan. 1, 1988]

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