2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
(1) Any party may present evidence relevant to the issue of disposition, including expert testimony, and may make alternative dispositional recommendations to the court. After receiving any evidence related to the disposition, the court shall enter one of the dispositions specified under subs. (2) to (3p) within 10 days.
(1m) In addition to any evidence presented under sub. (1), the court shall give the foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2) of the child a right to be heard at the dispositional hearing by permitting the foster parent or other physical custodian to make a written or oral statement during the dispositional hearing, or to submit a written statement prior to disposition, relevant to the issue of disposition. A foster parent or other physical custodian described in s. 48.62 (2) who receives notice of a hearing under s. 48.42 (2g) (a) 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.
(2) The court may dismiss the petition if it finds that the evidence does not warrant the termination of parental rights.
(3) The court may enter an order terminating the parental rights of one or both parents.
(3m) If the rights of both parents or of the only living parent are terminated under sub. (3) and if a guardian has not been appointed under s. 48.977, the court shall do one of the following:
(a) Transfer guardianship and custody of the child pending adoptive placement to:
1. A county department authorized to accept guardianship under s. 48.57 (1) (e).
3. A child welfare agency licensed under s. 48.61 (5) to accept guardianship.
4. The department.
5. A relative with whom the child resides, if the relative has filed a petition to adopt the child or if the relative is a kinship care relative or is receiving payments under s. 48.62 (4) for providing care and maintenance for the child.
6. An individual who has been appointed guardian of the child by a court of a foreign jurisdiction.
(am) Transfer guardianship and custody of the child to a county department authorized to accept guardianship under s. 48.57 (1) (hm) for placement of the child for adoption by the child's foster parent, if the county department has agreed to accept guardianship and custody of the child and the foster parent has agreed to adopt the child.
(b) Transfer guardianship of the child to one of the agencies specified under par. (a) 1. to 4. and custody of the child to an individual in whose home the child has resided for at least 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the termination of parental rights or to a relative.
(c) Appoint a guardian under s. 48.977 and transfer guardianship and custody of the child to the guardian.
(3p) If the rights of both parents or of the only living parent are terminated under sub. (3) and if a guardian has been appointed under s. 48.977, the court may enter one of the orders specified in sub. (3m) (a) or (b). If the court enters an order under this subsection, the court shall terminate the guardianship under s. 48.977.
(5) In placing an Indian child in a preadoptive placement following a transfer of guardianship and custody under sub. (3m) or (3p), the court or an agency specified in sub. (3m) (a) 1. to 4. or (am) shall comply with the order of placement preference under s. 48.028 (7) (b) or, if applicable, s. 48.028 (7) (c), unless the court or agency finds good cause, as described in s. 48.028 (7) (e), for departing from that order.
(6) If an order is entered under sub. (3), the court shall:
(a) Inform each birth parent, as defined under s. 48.432 (1) (am), whose rights have been terminated of the provisions of ss. 48.432, 48.433 and 48.434.
(b) Forward to the department:
1. The name and date of birth of the child whose birth parent's rights have been terminated.
2. The names and current addresses of the child's birth parents, guardian and legal custodian.
3. The medical and genetic information obtained under s. 48.422 (9) or 48.425 (1) (am) or (2).
4. If the court knows or has reason to know that the child is an Indian child, information relating to the child's membership or eligibility for membership in an Indian tribe.
(a) If an order is entered under sub. (3), the court may orally inform the parent or parents who appear in court of the ground for termination of parental rights specified in s. 48.415 (10).
(b) In addition to the notice permitted under par. (a), any written order under sub. (3) may notify the parent or parents of the information specified in par. (a).
Once a basis for termination has been found by the jury and confirmed with a finding of unfitness by the court, the court must move to the dispositional hearing in which the prevailing factor is the best interests of the child. A court should not dismiss a petition for termination at a dispositional hearing unless it can reconcile dismissal with the best interests of the child. Sheboygan County D.H.S.S. v. Julie A.B. 2002 WI 95, 255 Wis. 2d 170, 648 N.W.2d 402, 01-1692.
The 10-day time limit in sub. (1) addressed a period after the circuit court made the final decisions that served to terminate parental rights of the child and put the child in a position to be adopted. There was no reason why, after all critical stages within the adjudication process are complete, and the court had made the required rulings, failure to enter a written order implicated the court's competency. Dane Co. DHS v. Dyanne M. 2007 WI App 129, 06-2919.
Sub. (1) provides that a court must enter one of the dispositions specified under subs. (2) to (4). Nevertheless, the court cannot simply enter one of the dispositions set forth in sub. (3m), (3p), or (4). Rather, it must first enter a disposition terminating parental rights under sub. (3). Brown County Department of Human Services v. Brenda B. 2011 WI 6, 331 Wis. 2d 310, 795 N.W.2d 730, 10-0321.