In family law, sometimes it is necessary to terminate the parental rights of one of the parents. Terminating parental rights is a serious step and should not be taken lightly. Navigating Wisconsin law on termination can be difficult and a parent should have an idea as to what is required to terminate parental rights. This post will provide some background on terminating parental rights.
Termination of parental rights is found in Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 48. There are two ways that parental rights can be terminated, voluntarily and involuntarily. In a voluntary petition, a petition must be brought to the court requesting termination. The petition states that the parent is agreeing and consenting to termination. Once a parent consents a hearing is held in front of a judge where evidence is taken to determine if it is in the best interest of the child to terminate parental rights. Factors the court considers include (a) the likelihood of adoption; (b) the age and health of the child; (c) whether the child has substantial relationships with the parent or other family members; (d) the wishes of the child; (e) the duration of separation of the parent from the child; and (f) whether the child will be able to enter into a more stable and permanent family relationship as a result of the termination. If the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child and there was no inducement and the parent was aware of alternatives to termination, the court may grant a termination.
The other way parental rights can be terminated is involuntarily. Involuntary termination, as the name suggests, is when the parent does not agree with the termination or fails to participate in the termination process. Wisconsin law lays out ten grounds for termination. A petitioner has a hearing before the court and he or she needs to prove one of the ten grounds. Some of the grounds include abandonment, parental disability, denial of physical placement, child abuse, failure to assume parental responsibility, incestuous parenthood, and commission of a felony against a child. Once grounds have been proven the court holds a hearing to determine if it is in the best interest of the child to terminate parental rights. The court considers the same factors as the voluntary termination.
This post provides a quick snapshot of how a parent may go about terminating parental rights. The actual process requires professional legal services. If you are in a situation where this may be necessary I recommend hiring an experienced attorney who has handled termination cases.
I represent families in divorce and family law matters and offer, free, no cost, no obligation consultations. If you have a divorce, family law, or post divorce question such as custody, placement, child support or maintenance or any other issue related to divorce please contact Matthew McCasland in the Dane County area at (608) 824-9540, Sauk or Columbia County area at (608) 356-3961. Also, please check out our website at www.kh-law.net for additional information.