2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.41 Voluntary consent to termination of parental rights.
48.41 Voluntary consent to termination of parental rights.
(1) The court may terminate the parental rights of a parent after the parent has given his or her consent as specified in this section. When such voluntary consent is given as provided in this section, the judge may proceed immediately to a disposition of the matter after considering the standard and factors specified in s. 48.426.
(2) The court may accept a voluntary consent to termination of parental rights only as follows:
(a) The parent appears personally at the hearing and gives his or her consent to the termination of his or her parental rights. The judge may accept the consent only after the judge has explained the effect of termination of parental rights and has questioned the parent, or has permitted an attorney who represents any of the parties to question the parent, and is satisfied that the consent is informed and voluntary.
(b) If the court finds that it would be difficult or impossible for the parent to appear in person at the hearing, the court may do any of the following:
1. Accept the written consent of the parent given before an embassy or consul official, a military judge, or a judge of any court of record in another county or state or a foreign jurisdiction. This written consent shall be accompanied by the signed findings of the embassy or consul official or judge who accepted the parent's consent. These findings shall recite that the embassy or consul official or judge or an attorney who represents any of the parties questioned the parent and found that the consent was informed and voluntary before the embassy or consul official or judge accepted the consent of the parent.
2. On request of the parent, unless good cause to the contrary is shown, admit testimony on the record by telephone or live audiovisual means as prescribed in s. 807.13 (2).
(c) A person who may be, but who has not been adjudicated as, the father of a nonmarital child may consent to the termination of any parental rights that he may have as provided in par. (a) or (b) or by signing a written, notarized statement which recites that he has been informed of and understands the effect of an order to terminate parental rights and that he voluntarily disclaims any rights that he may have to the child, including the right to notice of proceedings under this subchapter.
(d) If the proceeding to terminate parental rights is held prior to an adoption proceeding in which the petitioner is the child's stepparent, or in which the child's birth parent is a resident of a foreign jurisdiction, the child's birth parent may consent to the termination of any parental rights that he or she may have as provided in par. (a) or (b) or by filing with the court an affidavit witnessed by 2 persons stating that he or she has been informed of and understands the effect of an order to terminate parental rights and that he or she voluntarily disclaims all rights to the child, including the right to notice of proceedings under this subchapter.
(e) In the case of an Indian child, the consent is given as provided in s. 48.028 (5) (b).
(3) If in any proceeding to terminate parental rights voluntarily a guardian ad litem has reason to doubt the capacity of a parent to give informed and voluntary consent to the termination, he or she shall so inform the court. The court shall then inquire into the capacity of that parent in any appropriate way and shall make a finding as to whether or not the parent is capable of giving informed and voluntary consent to the termination. If the court finds that the parent is incapable of knowingly and voluntarily consenting to the termination of parental rights, it shall dismiss the proceedings without prejudice. That dismissal shall not preclude an involuntary termination of the parent's rights under s. 48.415.
Judicial Council Note, 1990: Sub. (3) is repealed and recreated because the so-called substituted judgment permitted therein is bad public policy. New sub. (3) deals with the situation in which there is reason to doubt the competency of a parent who wishes to consent to the termination of his or her parental rights. Any party or guardian ad litem with reason to doubt such competency is required to so inform the court. The court must then make an inquiry in whatever way is appropriate. This may mean a simple discussion with the person, an examination, the appointment of experts to examine the person, a hearing or whatever seems proper in the discretion of the court. If the court finds the person incapable of making an informed and voluntary termination of parental rights, the court must dismiss the proceeding. If appropriate, an involuntary proceeding may then be commenced. A finding that the parent is competent does not obviate the need for a record that he or she has in fact given informed and voluntary consent prior to entry of a termination order. In Interest of D.L.S., 112 Wis. 2d 180, 196-97 (1983). [Re Order effective Jan. 1, 1990]
The minimum information that must be found on the record to support a finding that a minor parent's consent was voluntary and informed is set forth. In Interest of D. L. S. 112 Wis. 2d 180, 332 N.W.2d 293 (1983).
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, 11-2166.