2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.32 Consent decree.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.32 (2017)

48.32 Consent decree.

(1)

(a) At any time after the filing of a petition for a proceeding relating to s. 48.13 or 48.133 and before the entry of judgment, the judge or a circuit court commissioner may suspend the proceedings and place the child or expectant mother under supervision in the home or present placement of the child or expectant mother. The court may establish terms and conditions applicable to the child and the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, to the child expectant mother and her parent, guardian or legal custodian, or to the adult expectant mother, including the condition specified in sub. (1b). The order under this section shall be known as a consent decree and must be agreed to by the child if 12 years of age or older, the parent, guardian, or legal custodian, and the person filing the petition under s. 48.25; by the child expectant mother, her parent, guardian, or legal custodian, the unborn child's guardian ad litem, and the person filing the petition under s. 48.25; or by the adult expectant mother, the unborn child's guardian ad litem, and the person filing the petition under s. 48.25. The consent decree shall be reduced to writing and given to the parties.

(am) Using the procedures specified in par. (a) for the entry of an original consent decree, the parties to a consent decree may agree to, and the judge or circuit court commissioner may enter, an amended consent decree. An amended consent decree may change the placement of the child or expectant mother who is the subject of the original consent decree or revise any other term or condition of the original consent decree. An amended consent decree that changes the placement of a child from a placement in the child's home to a placement outside the child's home shall include the findings, orders, and determinations specified in par. (b), as applicable. An amended consent decree that changes the placement of an Indian child from a placement in the Indian child's home to a placement outside the Indian child's home shall include the findings specified in par. (d). An amended consent decree may not extend the expiration date of the original consent decree.

(b)

1. If at the time the consent decree is entered into the child is placed outside the home under a voluntary agreement under s. 48.63 or is otherwise living outside the home without a court order and if the consent decree maintains the child in that placement or other living arrangement, or if an amended consent decree changes the placement of the child from a placement in the child's home to a placement outside the child's home, the consent decree shall include all of the following:

a. A finding that placement of the child in his or her home would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

b. A finding as to whether the county department, the department, in a county having a population of 750,000 or more, or the agency primarily responsible for providing services to the child has made reasonable efforts to prevent the removal of the child from the home, while assuring that the child's health and safety are the paramount concerns, unless the judge or circuit court commissioner finds that any of the circumstances specified in s. 48.355 (2d) (b) 1. to 5. applies.

c. If a permanency plan has previously been prepared for the child, a finding as to whether the county department, department, or agency has made reasonable efforts to achieve the permanency goal of the child's permanency plan, including, if appropriate, through an out-of-state placement.

d. If the child's placement or other living arrangement is under the supervision of the county department or, in a county having a population of 750,000 or more, the department, an order ordering the child into the placement and care responsibility of the county department or department as required under 42 USC 672 (a) (2) and assigning the county department or department primary responsibility for providing services to the child.

1m. If the child has one or more siblings, as defined in s. 48.38 (4) (br) 1., who have also been removed from the home, the consent decree shall include a finding as to whether the county department, department in a county having a population of 750,000 or more, or agency primarily responsible for providing services to the child has made reasonable efforts to place the child in a placement that enables the sibling group to remain together, unless the judge or circuit court commissioner determines that a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or any of those siblings, in which case the judge or circuit court commissioner shall order the county department, department, or agency to make reasonable efforts to provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the child and the siblings, unless the judge or circuit court commissioner determines that such visitation or interaction would be contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or any of those siblings.

2. If the judge or circuit court commissioner finds that any of the circumstances specified in s. 48.355 (2d) (b) 1. to 5. applies with respect to a parent, the consent decree shall include a determination that the county department, department, in a county having a population of 750,000 or more, or agency primarily responsible for providing services under the consent decree is not required to make reasonable efforts with respect to the parent to make it possible for the child to return safely to his or her home.

3. The judge or circuit court commissioner shall make the findings specified in subds. 1. and 2. on a case-by-case basis based on circumstances specific to the child and shall document or reference the specific information on which those findings are based in the consent decree. A consent decree that merely references subd. 1. or 2. without documenting or referencing that specific information in the consent decree or an amended consent decree that retroactively corrects an earlier consent decree that does not comply with this subdivision is not sufficient to comply with this subdivision.

(c) If the judge or circuit court commissioner finds that any of the circumstances specified in s. 48.355 (2d) (b) 1. to 5. applies with respect to a parent, the judge or circuit court commissioner shall hold a hearing under s. 48.38 (4m) within 30 days after the date of that finding to determine the permanency goal and, if applicable, any concurrent permanency goals for the child.

(d)

1. In the case of an Indian child, if at the time the consent decree is entered into the Indian child is placed outside the home of his or her parent or Indian custodian under a voluntary agreement under s. 48.63 or is otherwise living outside that home without a court order and if the consent decree maintains the Indian child in that placement or other living arrangement, or if an amended consent decree changes the placement of the Indian child from a placement in the Indian child's home to a placement outside the Indian child's home, the consent decree shall include a finding supported by clear and convincing evidence, including the testimony of one or more qualified expert witnesses, that continued custody of the Indian child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child under s. 48.028 (4) (d) 1. and a finding that active efforts under s. 48.028 (4) (d) 2. have been made to prevent the breakup of the Indian child's family and that those efforts have proved unsuccessful. The findings under this subdivision shall be in addition to the findings under par. (b) 1., except that for the sole purpose of determining whether the cost of providing care for an Indian child is eligible for reimbursement under 42 USC 670 to 679b, the findings under this subdivision and the findings under par. (b) 1. shall be considered to be the same findings.

2. If the placement or other living arrangement under subd. 1. departs from the order of placement preference under s. 48.028 (7) (b) or, if applicable, s. 48.028 (7) (c), the court shall also find good cause, as described in s. 48.028 (7) (e), for departing from that order.

(1b) The judge or a circuit court commissioner may, as a condition under sub. (1), request a court-appointed special advocate program to designate a court-appointed special advocate for the child to perform the activities specified in s. 48.236 (3) that are authorized in the memorandum of understanding under s. 48.07 (5) (a). A court-appointed special advocate designated under this subsection shall have the authority specified in s. 48.236 (4) that is authorized in the memorandum of understanding under s. 48.07 (5) (a).

(2)

(a) A consent decree shall remain in effect up to 6 months unless the child, parent, guardian, legal custodian or expectant mother is discharged sooner by the judge or circuit court commissioner.

(c) Upon the motion of the court or the application of the child, parent, guardian, legal custodian, expectant mother, unborn child's guardian ad litem, intake worker, or any agency supervising the child or expectant mother under the consent decree, the court may, after giving notice to the parties to the consent decree, their counsel or guardian ad litem, and the court-appointed special advocate for the child, if any, extend the decree for up to an additional 6 months in the absence of objection to extension by the parties to the initial consent decree. If the child, parent, guardian, legal custodian, expectant mother, or unborn child's guardian ad litem objects to the extension, the judge shall schedule a hearing and make a determination on the issue of extension. An extension under this paragraph of a consent decree relating to an unborn child who is alleged to be in need of protection or services may be granted after the child is born.

(3) If, prior to discharge by the court, or the expiration of the consent decree, the court finds that the child, parent, guardian, legal custodian or expectant mother has failed to fulfill the express terms and conditions of the consent decree or that the child or expectant mother objects to the continuation of the consent decree, the hearing under which the child or expectant mother was placed on supervision may be continued to conclusion as if the consent decree had never been entered.

(5) A court which, under this section, elicits or examines information or material about a child or an expectant mother which would be inadmissible in a hearing on the allegations of the petition may not, over objections of one of the parties, participate in any subsequent proceedings if any of the following applies:

(a) The court refuses to enter into a consent decree and the allegations in the petition remain to be decided in a hearing at which one of the parties denies the allegations forming the basis for a child or unborn child in need of protection or services petition.

(b) A consent decree is granted but the petition under s. 48.13 or 48.133 is subsequently reinstated.

(6) The judge or circuit court commissioner shall inform the child and the child's parent, guardian or legal custodian, or the adult expectant mother, in writing, of the right of the child or expectant mother to object to the continuation of the consent decree under sub. (3) and the fact that the hearing under which the child or expectant mother was placed on supervision may be continued to conclusion as if the consent decree had never been entered.

History: 1977 c. 354; 1985 a. 311; 1987 a. 27, 285, 339; 1991 a. 213, 253, 315; 1993 a. 98; 1995 a. 24, 77, 448; 1997 a. 292; 1999 a. 149; 2001 a. 61, 109; 2007 a. 20; 2009 a. 28, 79, 94, 185; 2011 a. 181, 258; 2013 a. 165, 170; 2015 a. 172, 373.

A finding that a consent decree has been violated must be made before the consent decree expires. Filing a motion to vacate the consent decree prior to its expiration does not extend the term of the decree and does not prevent the automatic dismissal of the original petition upon the expiration of the decree. Interest of Leif E.N. & Nora M.S. 189 Wis. 2d 480, 526 N.W.2d 275 (Ct. App. 1994).

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