Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Wisconsin

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.415

Grounds for termination of parental rights shall be one of the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent has relinquished custody of the child when the child was 72 hours old or younger.
  • The child has been in an out-of-home placement for 6 months or longer, and the parent has failed to meet the conditions established for the safe return of the child to the home, and there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not meet those conditions within 9 months.
  • The child has been placed outside the home on three or more occasions, and the conditions that led to the child's placement were caused by the parent.
  • The parent is presently, and for a cumulative period of at least 2 years within the past 5 years was, an inpatient at one or more hospitals on account of mental illness, developmental disability, or other similar incapacities; the condition is likely to continue indefinitely; and the child is not being provided with adequate care by a relative who has legal custody of the child.
  • The parent has been denied periods of physical placement or visitation by court order for at least 1 year.
  • The parent has exhibited a pattern of physically or sexually abusive behavior that is a substantial threat to the health of the child.
  • The parent has failed to assume significant responsibility for the daily supervision, education, protection, and care of the child.
  • The parent is also related, either by blood or adoption, to the child's other parent in a degree of kinship closer than second cousin.
  • The parent has been convicted of homicide or solicitation to commit homicide, and the victim was the child's other parent.
  • The parent was convicted of a sexual assault that resulted in the conception of the child.
  • The parent was convicted of a felony against a child.
  • The parent was convicted of trafficking of a child involving any child.
  • The parent has had a prior involuntary termination of parental rights to another child.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.415(1)(c)

Abandonment is not established as grounds for termination if the parent proves all the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

  • The parent had good cause for having failed to visit with the child.
  • The parent had good cause for having failed to communicate with the child.
  • If the parent proves good cause, including good cause based on evidence that the child's age or condition would have rendered any communication with the child meaningless, that one of the following occurred:
    • The parent communicated about the child with the person or persons who had physical custody of the child or with the agency responsible for the care of the child.
    • The parent had good cause for having failed to communicate about the child with the person or persons who had physical custody of the child or the agency responsible for the care of the child.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.46(1m); 48.028(6)

The parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child or the child whose parents' parental rights have been terminated by the court under § 48.43 may, within the time permitted under this subsection, petition the court for a rehearing on the ground that new evidence has been discovered affecting the advisability of the court's adjudication. Upon a showing that such evidence does exist, the court shall order a new hearing. A petition shall be filed within 1 year after the date on which the parents' rights were terminated, unless within that 1-year period a court in this State or in another jurisdiction enters an order granting adoption of the child. In that case, a petition shall be filed before the date on which the order granting adoption is entered or within 30 days after the date on which the parents' rights were terminated, whichever is later.

Any Indian child who is the subject of a termination of parental rights proceeding, any parent or Indian custodian from whose custody that Indian child was removed, or the Indian child's Tribe may petition the court to invalidate that termination of parental rights on the grounds that the termination of parental rights was ordered in violation of the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (25 USC 1911, 1912, or 1913). If the court finds that those grounds exist, the court shall invalidate the termination of parental rights.