Unregulated Custody Transfers of Adopted Children - Wisconsin

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Definitions

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.825; 48.979

The term 'advertise' means to communicate by any public medium that originates within this State, including by newspaper, periodical, telephone book listing, outdoor advertising sign, radio, television, or by any computerized communication system, including by electronic mail, internet site, internet account, or any similar medium of communication provided via the internet.

The term 'agent' means a person to whom delegation of the care and custody of a child is made under this section.

Prohibited or Required Actions Regarding Custody

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.825; 48.979

No person may do any of the following:

  • Advertise for the purpose of finding a child to adopt or to otherwise take into permanent physical custody
  • Advertise that the person will find an adoptive home or any other permanent physical placement for a child or arrange for or assist in the adoption, adoptive placement, or any other permanent physical placement of a child
  • Advertise that the person will place a child for adoption or in any other permanent physical placement

A parent who has legal custody of a child, by a power of attorney that is properly executed by all parents who have legal custody of the child, may delegate to an agent any of their powers regarding the care and custody of the child, except the power to consent to the marriage or adoption of the child, the performance or inducement of an abortion on or for the child, the termination of parental rights to the child, or the enlistment of the child in the U.S. armed forces. A delegation of powers does not deprive the parent of any of their powers regarding the care and custody of the child.

A delegation of powers to an agent may remain in effect for no longer than 1 year, except that such a delegation may remain in effect for longer than 1 year if the delegation is to a relative of the child or the delegation is approved by the court.

If a parent who wishes a delegation of powers to an agent who is not a relative of the child to remain in effect for longer than 1 year, the agent to whom the parent wishes to delegate those powers shall file a petition with the court requesting the court's approval of that delegation. A draft copy of the power of attorney delegating those powers shall be attached to the petition. The court shall hold a hearing on the petition within 45 days. At the hearing the court may approve the proposed delegation of powers if the court finds that the proposed delegation of powers is in the best interests of the child.

Exceptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.825

The section prohibiting advertising by individuals does not apply to any of the following:

  • The Department of Children and Families, a county department, or a licensed child welfare agency
  • An individual or agency providing adoption information under § 48.55
  • A foster care and adoption resource center
  • An individual who has received a favorable recommendation regarding their fitness to be an adoptive parent in this State from the department, a county department, or a child welfare agency licensed in this State or in another jurisdiction from an entity authorized by that jurisdiction to conduct studies of potential adoptive homes

Nothing in this section prohibits an attorney licensed to practice in this State from advertising their availability to practice or provide services relating to the adoption of children.

Consequences

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.825; 48.979; 948.25

No person may publish by a public medium an advertisement that violates this section. Any person who violates this section may be fined no more than $10,000, imprisoned no more than 9 months, or both.

Any person who delegates their powers regarding the care and custody of a child to a person who is not a relative of the child for longer than 1 year without first obtaining the approval of the court as provided in this subsection is subject to a fine not to exceed $10,000, imprisonment not to exceed 9 months, or both.

Any person who sends a child out of this State, brings a child into this State, or causes a child to be sent out of this State or brought into this State for the purpose of permanently transferring physical custody of the child to a person who is not a relative, as defined in § 48.02(15), of the child is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. This section does not apply to any of the following:

  • A placement of a child that is authorized under §§ 48.98, 48.988, or 48.99
  • A placement of a child that is approved by a court of competent jurisdiction of the sending State or receiving State