2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.831 Appointment of guardian for child without a living parent for adoptability finding.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.831 (2017)

48.831 Appointment of guardian for child without a living parent for adoptability finding.

(1)Type of guardianship. This section may be used for the appointment of a guardian of a child who does not have a living parent if a finding as to the adoptability of a child is sought. Except as provided in ss. 48.977 and 48.978, ch. 54 applies to the appointment of a guardian for a child who does not have a living parent for all other purposes. An appointment of a guardian of the estate of a child who does not have a living parent shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures specified in ch. 54.

(1m)Petition. Any of the following may file a petition for appointment of a guardian for a child who is believed to be in need of protection or services because he or she is without a living parent as described under s. 48.13 (1):

(a) The department.

(b) A county department.

(c) A child welfare agency licensed under s. 48.61 (5) to accept guardianship.

(d) A relative or family member of the child or a person whom the child has resided with and who has also acted as a parent of the child.

(e) A guardian appointed under ch. 54 or ch. 880, 2003 stats., whose resignation as guardian has been accepted by a court under s. 54.54 (1) or s. 880.17 (1), 2003 stats.

(1r)Notice. When a petition is filed under sub. (1m), the court shall provide notice of the fact-finding hearing under sub. (3) to all interested parties as provided in s. 48.27 (6). If the court knows or has reason to know that the child is an Indian child, the court shall provide notice to the Indian child's Indian custodian, if any, and tribe, if known, in the manner specified in s. 48.028 (4) (a). No hearing may be held under sub. (3) until at least 10 days after receipt of the notice by the Indian child's Indian custodian and tribe or, if the identity or location of the Indian child's 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 Indian child's Indian custodian or tribe, the court shall grant a continuance of up to 20 additional days to enable the requester to prepare for the hearing.

(2)Report. If the department, county department, or child welfare agency files a petition, the court shall order the department, county department, or child welfare agency to file a report with the court containing as much of the information specified under s. 48.425 (1) (a) and (am) as is reasonably ascertainable and, if applicable, the information specified under s. 48.425 (1) (g). If the petition is filed by a relative or other person specified under sub. (1m) (d), the court shall order the department or a child welfare agency, if the department or agency consents, or a county department to file a report containing the information specified in this subsection. If the child is an Indian child, the court may order the department, county department, or child welfare agency, or request the tribal child welfare department of the Indian child's tribe, if that department consents, to file a report containing the information specified in this subsection. The department, county department, child welfare agency, or tribal child welfare department, if that department consents, shall file the report at least 5 days before the date of the fact-finding hearing on the petition.

(3)Fact-finding hearing. The court shall hold a fact-finding hearing on the petition, at which any party may present evidence relevant to the issue of whether the child has a living parent. If the court finds that the child has a living parent, the court shall dismiss the petition or grant the petitioner leave to amend the petition to a petition under s. 48.42 (1).

(4)Dispositional hearing.

(a) If the court, at the conclusion of the fact-finding hearing, finds that the child has no living parent, the court shall proceed to a dispositional hearing. Any party may present evidence, including expert testimony, relevant to the issue of disposition. In determining the appropriate disposition, the court shall consider any factors under s. 48.426 (3) (a) to (d) that are applicable.

(b) If the court finds that adoption is in the child's best interest, the court shall order that the child be placed in the guardianship and custody of one of the following:

1. A county department authorized to accept guardianship under s. 48.57 (1) (e) or (hm).

2. A child welfare agency licensed under s. 48.61 (5) to accept guardianship.

3. The department.

(c) If the court finds that adoption is not in the child's best interest, the court shall order that the child be placed in the guardianship of the department and place the child in the custody of a county department or, in a county having a population of 750,000 or more, the department or an agency under contract with the department.

(cm) If the child is an Indian child who is in the custody of an Indian custodian, the court may not remove the child from the custody of the Indian custodian under par. (c) unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, including the testimony of one or more qualified expert witnesses, that continued custody of the Indian child by the Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child under s. 48.028 (4) (d) 1. and the court finds 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. In placing an Indian child following a transfer of guardianship and custody under par. (b) or (c), the custodian appointed under par. (b) or (c) shall comply with the order of placement preference under s. 48.028 (7) (b) or, if applicable, s. 48.028 (7) (c), unless there is good cause, as described in s. 48.028 (7) (e), for departing from that order.

(d) Section 48.43 (5), (5m) and (7) applies to orders under pars. (b) and (c).

(e) The court shall order the custodian appointed under par. (b) or (c) to prepare a permanency plan under s. 48.38 for the child within 60 days after the date of the order. A permanency plan ordered under this paragraph is subject to review under s. 48.38 (5). In preparing a permanency plan, the department, county department or child welfare agency need not include any information specified in s. 48.38 (4) that relates to the child's parents or returning the child to his or her home. In reviewing a permanency plan, a court or panel need not make any determination under s. 48.38 (5) (c) that relates to the child's parents or returning the child to his or her home.

History: 1989 a. 161; 1995 a. 73, 275; 1997 a. 27, 334; 2005 a. 387; 2009 a. 94; 2015 a. 172.

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