Consent to Adoption - Wisconsin

Date: October 2021

Who Must Consent to an Adoption

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.41; 48.42

A parent may consent to a voluntary termination of parental rights. The father of a nonmarital child may consent to the termination of any parental rights that he may have.

A petition may also be filed by an agency or other authorized person. The following persons must be given notice of any hearing for terminating parental rights:

  • The parent or parents of the child unless the child's parent or parents have waived the right to notice
  • If the child is a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently marry each other and whose paternity has not been established, as follows:
    • A person who has filed an unrevoked declaration of paternal interest before the birth of the child or within 14 days after the birth of the child
    • A person or persons alleged to be the father of the child or who may be the father of the child based upon the statements of the mother or other information presented to the court, unless that person or persons have waived the right to notice
    • A person who has lived in a familial relationship with the child and who may be the father of the child
  • If the child is a nonmarital child who is under age 1 at the time the petition is filed and who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently marry each other and whose paternity has not been established and if an affidavit is filed with the petition:
    • A person who has filed an unrevoked declaration of paternal interest before the birth of the child, within 14 days after the birth of the child or within 21 days after a notice is mailed, whichever is later
    • A person who has lived in a familial relationship with the child and who may be the father of the child
  • The guardian, guardian ad litem, legal custodian, and Indian custodian of the child

Consent of Child Being Adopted

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.42

Any child who is age 12 or older must be given notice to attend the hearing pertaining to his or her adoptive placement.

When Parental Consent is not Needed

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.415; 48.42

Notice of a hearing to terminate parental rights need not be sent to a person who may be the father of a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently marry each other if his paternity has not been established and he has failed to establish his right to notice. In addition, consent is not required of any person whose parental rights have been terminated on any of the following grounds:

  • Parental rights have been terminated due to failure of the parents to assume responsibility.
  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • There is continuing parental disability.
  • The parent has abused the child.
  • The parent has relinquished custody of the child when the child was 72 hours old or younger.
  • The parent has failed to assume responsibility for the child or to establish a substantial relationship with the child.
  • The parent has caused the child to be conceived as a result of incest or sexual assault.
  • The parent has been convicted of homicide or of solicitation to commit homicide of the child's other parent.

When Consent Can Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.837; 48.028

A hearing is held within 30 days of the filing of a petition for voluntary termination of parental rights but not before the birth of the child.

In the case of an Indian child, consent cannot be executed prior to or within 10 days after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.41; 48.028

A parent may consent to a voluntary termination of parental rights upon petition to the court. The parent must appear personally at the hearing to give his or her consent to the termination of his or her parental rights. The court may also 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.

The father of a nonmarital child may consent to the termination of any parental rights that he may have by signing a written, notarized statement that 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.

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 by filing with the court an affidavit witnessed by two 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.

In the case of an Indian child, consent is executed in writing, recorded before a judge, and accompanied by a written certification by the judge that the terms and consequences were fully explained and understood in English or interpreted into a language that the parent understood.

Revocation of Consent

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.46(2); 48.028

A parent who has consented to the termination of his or her parental rights or who did not contest the petition initiating the proceeding in which his or her parental rights were terminated may move the court for relief from the judgment on any of the following grounds, as specified in § 806.07(1)(a),(b),(c),(d), or (f):

  • Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
  • Newly discovered evidence that entitles a party to a new trial
  • Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party
  • A voided judgment
  • A prior judgment upon which the judgment is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated

Any such motion shall be filed within 30 days after the entry of the judgment or order terminating parental rights unless the parent files a timely notice of intent to pursue relief from the judgment under § 808.04(7m), in which case the motion shall be filed within the time permitted by § 809.107(5). A motion under this subsection does not affect the finality or suspend the operation of the judgment or order terminating parental rights. Motions under this subsection and appeals to the court of appeals shall be the exclusive remedies for such a parent to obtain a new hearing in a termination of parental rights proceeding.

After the entry of a final order granting adoption of an Indian child, a parent who has consented to termination may withdraw that consent and move the court for relief from the judgment on the grounds that the consent was obtained through fraud or duress. Any such motion shall be filed within 2 years after the entry of an order grating adoption.