2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.358 Trial reunification.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.358 (2017)

48.358 Trial reunification.

(1)Definition. In this section:

(a) “Trial reunification" means a period of 7 consecutive days or longer, but not exceeding 150 days, during which a child who is placed in an out-of-home placement under s. 48.355 or 48.357 resides in the home of a relative of the child from which the child was removed or in the home of either of the child's parents for the purpose of determining the appropriateness of changing the placement of the child to that home.

(b) “Trial reunification home" means the home in which in which a child resides during a trial reunification.

(2)Trial reunification; procedure.

(a) Request or proposal. No trial reunification may occur without a court order. Only the person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order may request the court to order a trial reunification. The request shall contain the name and address of the requested trial reunification home, a statement describing why the trial reunification is in the best interests of the child, and a statement describing how the trial reunification satisfies the objectives of the child's permanency plan. A request for a trial reunification may not be made on the sole grounds that an emergency condition necessitates an immediate removal of the child from his or her out-of-home placement. If an emergency condition necessitates such an immediate removal, the person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order shall proceed as provided in s. 48.357 (2) (a).

(b) Notice; information required. The person or agency requesting the trial reunification shall submit the request to the court and shall cause written notice of the requested trial reunification to be sent to the child, the parent, guardian, and legal custodian of the child, any foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2) of the child, the child's court-appointed special advocate, all parties who are bound by the dispositional order, and, if the child is an Indian child who has been removed from the home of his or her parent or Indian custodian, the Indian child's Indian custodian and tribe. The notice shall contain the information that is required to be included in the request under par. (a).

(c) Hearing; when required. Any person who is entitled to receive notice of a requested trial reunification under par. (b), other than a court-appointed special advocate, may obtain a hearing on the matter by filing an objection with the court within 10 days after the request was filed with the court. If an objection is filed, a hearing shall be held within 30 days after the request was filed with the court. Not less than 3 days before the hearing the person or agency requesting the trial reunification or the court shall provide notice of the hearing to all persons who are entitled to receive notice under par. (b). A copy of the request for the trial reunification shall be attached to the notice. If all of the parties consent, the court may proceed immediately with the hearing.

(d) Order. If the court finds that the trial reunification is in the best interests of the child and that the trial reunification satisfies the objectives of the child's permanency plan, the court shall order the trial reunification. A trial reunification shall terminate 90 days after the date of the order, unless the court specifies a shorter period in the order, extends the trial reunification under sub. (3), or revokes the trial reunification under sub. (4) (c) or (6) (b). No trial reunification order may extend the expiration date of the original dispositional order under s. 48.355 or any extension order under s. 48.365. A trial reunification under this section is not a change in placement under s. 48.357. Unless revoked under sub. (4) (c) or (6) (b), at the end of a trial reunification, the person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order shall do one of the following:

1. Return the child to his or her previous out-of-home placement. The person or agency may do so without further order of the court, but within 5 days after the return the person or agency shall provide notice of the date of the return and the address of that placement to all persons who are entitled to receive notice under par. (b).

2. Request a change in placement under s. 48.357 to place the child in a new out-of-home placement.

3. Request a change in placement under s. 48.357 to place the child in the trial reunification home.

(3)Extension of trial reunification.

(a) Extension request. The person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order may request an extension of a trial reunification. The request shall contain a statement describing how the trial reunification continues to be in the best interests of the child. No later than 10 days prior to the expiration of the trial reunification, the person or agency that requests the extension shall submit the request to the court that ordered the trial reunification and shall cause notice of the request to be provided to all persons who are entitled to receive notice under sub. (2) (b).

(b) Extension hearing; when required. Any person who is entitled to receive notice of the extension request under par. (a), other than a court-appointed special advocate, may obtain a hearing on the matter by filing an objection with the court within 10 days after the request was filed with the court. If an objection is filed, the court shall schedule a hearing on the matter. If the court is unable to conduct a hearing on the matter before the trial reunification expires, the court may extend the trial reunification for not more than 30 days without a hearing. If a hearing is scheduled, not less than 3 days before the hearing the person or agency requesting the extension or the court shall provide notice of the hearing to all persons who are entitled to receive notice of the extension request under par. (a). A copy of the request for the extension shall be attached to the notice. If all of the parties consent, the court may proceed immediately with the hearing.

(c) Extension order. If the court finds that the trial reunification continues to be in the best interests of the child, the court shall grant an order extending the trial reunification for a period specified by the court. Any number of extensions may be granted, but the total period for a trial reunification may not exceed 150 days.

(4)Revocation of trial reunification.

(a) Revocation request; information required.

1. If the person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order determines based on current circumstances that a trial reunification is no longer in the best interests of the child, that person or agency may, without prior court order, remove the child from the trial reunification home and place the child in the child's previous out-of-home placement as provided in subd. 2. or place the child in a new out-of-home placement as provided in subd. 3.

2. If the person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order places the child in the child's previous out-of-home placement, within 3 days after removing the child from the trial reunification home, that person or agency shall submit a request for revocation of the trial reunification to the court that ordered the trial reunification and shall cause notice of the request to be provided to all persons who are entitled to receive notice of the trial reunification under sub. (2) (b). The request shall contain the date on which the child was removed from the trial reunification home, the address of the child's current placement, and the reasons for the proposed revocation. Paragraphs (b) and (c) apply to a request for revocation submitted under this subdivision.

3. If the person or agency primarily responsible for implementing the dispositional order places the child in a new out-of-home placement, within 3 days after removing the child from the trial reunification home, that person or agency shall request a change in placement under s. 48.357 (1) (am). The procedures specified in s. 48.357 relating to a change in placement under s. 48.357 (1) (am) apply to a change in placement requested under this subdivision, except that the request shall include the date on which the child was removed from the trial reunification home in addition to the information required under s. 48.357 (1) (am) 1., and the trial reunification is revoked when the change in placement order is granted.

(b) Revocation hearing; when required. Any person who is entitled to receive notice of a revocation request under par. (a) 2., other than a court-appointed special advocate, may obtain a hearing on the matter by filing an objection with the court within 10 days after the request is filed with the court. If a hearing is scheduled, not less than 3 days prior to the hearing the court shall provide notice of the hearing, together with a copy of the request for the revocation, to all persons who are entitled to receive notice under par. (a) 2. If all parties consent, the court may proceed immediately with the hearing.

(c) Revocation order. If the court finds that the trial reunification is no longer in the best interests of a child who has been placed in his or her previous out-of-home placement under par. (a) 1., the court shall grant an order revoking the trial reunification.

(5)Removal from foster home or other physical custodian. If a hearing is held under sub. (2) (c) and the trial reunification would remove a child from a foster home or other placement with a physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2), the court shall give the foster parent or other physical custodian a right to be heard at the hearing by permitting the foster parent or other physical custodian to make a written or oral statement during the hearing or to submit a written statement prior to the hearing relating to the child and the requested trial reunification. A foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2) who receives notice of a hearing under sub. (2) (c) and a right to be heard under this subsection does not become a party to the proceeding on which the hearing is held solely on the basis of receiving that notice and right to be heard.

(6)Prohibited trial reunifications based on homicide of parent.

(a) Prohibition. Except as provided in par. (c), the court may not order a trial reunification in the home of a person who has been convicted under s. 940.01 of the first-degree intentional homicide, or under s. 940.05 of the 2nd-degree intentional homicide, of a parent of the child, if the conviction has not been reversed, set aside, or vacated.

(b) Revocation. Except as provided in par. (c), if a parent in whose home a child is placed for a trial reunification is convicted under s. 940.01 of the first-degree intentional homicide, or under s. 940.05 of the 2nd-degree intentional homicide, of the child's other parent, and the conviction has not been reversed, set aside, or vacated, the court shall revoke the trial reunification and the child shall be returned to his or her previous out-of-home placement or, pursuant to s. 48.357, placed in a new out-of-home placement.

(c) Exception. Paragraphs (a) and (b) do not apply if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the placement would be in the best interests of the child. The court shall consider the wishes of the child in making that determination.

History: 2011 a. 181; 2015 a. 373.

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