2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 938. Juvenile justice code.
938.235 Guardian ad litem.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 938.235 (2017)

938.235 Guardian ad litem.

(1)Appointment.

(a) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem in any appropriate matter under this chapter.

(e) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem, or extend the appointment of a guardian ad litem previously appointed under par. (a), for any juvenile alleged or found to be in need of protection or services, if the court has ordered, or if a request or recommendation has been made that the court order, the juvenile to be placed out of his or her home under s. 938.32, 938.345, or 938.357. This paragraph does not apply to a juvenile who is subject to a dispositional order that terminates as provided in s. 938.355 (4) (am) 4., 938.357 (6) (a) 4., or 938.365 (5) (b) 4.

(2)Qualifications. The guardian ad litem shall be an attorney admitted to practice in this state. No person who is an interested party in a proceeding, who appears as counsel in a proceeding on behalf of any party or who is a relative or representative of an interested party may be appointed guardian ad litem in that proceeding.

(3)Duties and responsibilities.

(a) The guardian ad litem shall be an advocate for the best interests of the person for whom the appointment is made. The guardian ad litem shall function independently, in the same manner as an attorney for a party to the action, and shall consider, but shall not be bound by, the wishes of the person or the positions of others as to the best interests of the person. If the guardian ad litem determines that the best interests of the person are substantially inconsistent with the person's wishes, the guardian ad litem shall so inform the court and the court may appoint counsel to represent the person. The guardian ad litem has none of the rights or duties of a general guardian.

(b) In addition to any other duties and responsibilities of a guardian ad litem, a guardian ad litem appointed for a juvenile who is the subject of a proceeding under s. 938.13 shall do all of the following:

1. Unless granted leave by the court not to do so, personally, or through a trained designee, meet with the juvenile, assess the appropriateness and safety of the juvenile's environment and, if the juvenile is old enough to communicate, interview the juvenile and determine the juvenile's goals and concerns regarding his or her placement.

2. Make clear and specific recommendations to the court concerning the best interest of the juvenile at every stage of the proceeding.

(4)Matters involving juvenile in need of protection or services.

(a) In any matter involving a juvenile found to be in need of protection or services, the guardian ad litem may, if reappointed or if the appointment is continued under sub. (7), do any of the following:

1. Participate in permanency planning under ss. 48.43 (5) and 938.38.

2. Petition for a change in placement under s. 938.357.

3. Petition for termination of parental rights or any other matter specified under s. 48.14 or 938.14.

4. Petition for revision of dispositional orders under s. 938.363.

5. Petition for extension of dispositional orders under s. 938.365.

6. Petition for a temporary restraining order and injunction under s. 813.122 or 813.125.

7. Petition for relief from a judgment terminating parental rights under s. 48.028 or 48.46.

7g. Petition for the appointment of a guardian under s. 48.977 (2), the revision of a guardianship order under s. 48.977 (6) or the removal of a guardian under s. 48.977 (7).

7m. Bring an action or motion for the determination of the juvenile's paternity under s. 767.80.

8. Perform any other duties consistent with this chapter and ch. 48.

(b) The court shall order the agency identified under s. 938.33 (1) (c) as primarily responsible for the provision of services to notify the guardian ad litem, if any, regarding actions to be taken under par. (a).

(7)Termination and extension of appointment. The appointment of a guardian ad litem under sub. (1) terminates upon the entry of the court's final order or upon the termination of any appeal in which the guardian ad litem participates. The guardian ad litem may appeal, participate in an appeal, or do neither. If an appeal is taken by any party and the guardian ad litem chooses not to participate in the appeal, he or she shall file with the appellate court a statement of reasons for not participating. Irrespective of the guardian ad litem's decision not to participate in an appeal, the appellate court may order the guardian ad litem to participate in the appeal. At any time, the guardian ad litem, any party, or the person for whom the appointment is made may request in writing or on the record that the court extend or terminate the appointment or reappointment. The court may extend that appointment, or reappoint a guardian ad litem appointed under this section, after the entry of the final order or after the termination of the appeal, but the court shall specifically state the scope of the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem during the period of the extension or reappointment.

(8)Compensation.

(a) A guardian ad litem appointed under this chapter shall be compensated at a rate that the court determines is reasonable, except that, if the court orders a county to pay the compensation of the guardian ad litem, the amount ordered may not exceed the compensation payable to a private attorney under s. 977.08 (4m) (b).

(b) The court may order either or both of the parents of a juvenile for whom a guardian ad litem is appointed under this chapter to pay all or any part of the compensation of the guardian ad litem. Upon motion by the guardian ad litem, the court may order either or both of the parents of the juvenile to pay the fee for an expert witness used by the guardian ad litem, if the guardian ad litem shows that the use of the expert is necessary to assist the guardian ad litem in performing his or her functions or duties under this chapter. If one or both of the parents are indigent or if the court determines that it would be unfair to a parent to require him or her to pay, the court may order the county of venue to pay the compensation and fees, in whole or in part. If the court orders the county of venue to pay, the court may also order either or both of the parents to reimburse the county, in whole or in part, for the payment.

(c) At any time before the final order in a proceeding in which a guardian ad litem is appointed for a juvenile under this chapter, the court may order a parent of the juvenile to place payments in an escrow account in an amount estimated to be sufficient to pay any compensation and fees payable under par. (b).

(d) If the court orders a parent to reimburse a county under par. (b), the court may order a separate judgment for the amount of the reimbursement in favor of the county and against the parent who is responsible for the reimbursement.

(e) The court may enforce its orders under this subsection by means of its contempt powers.

History: 1995 a. 77, 275; 1997 a. 237; 2005 a. 344; 2005 a. 443 s. 265; 2007 a. 20; 2009 a. 94; 2013 a. 334; 2015 a. 373.

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