Thursday, September 2, 2010

Termination of Parental Rights Law in Wisconsin - Voluntary Consent to Termination

By John DiMotto

If a parent wishes to contest a TPR, the State must prove to a jury or to the court by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence that involuntary grounds under 48.415 are present. If this burden of proof is met, then the court must find that the parent is unfit and the case proceeds to Disposition. If ultimately the court orders TPR, this finding constitutes a separate ground which can be the basis of a TPR on another child. However, a parent can voluntarily consent to termination and if accepted by the court the parent is not found to be unfit and the ultimate TPR judgment cannot be used as the basis for a future TPR action.

Before the court can accept the voluntary consent of a parent, the court must engage in a detailed colloquy with the parent to ensure that the decision is being made freely, voluntarily, intelligently and understandingly. This is critical since termination affects one of the, if not the most important fundamental right of any person -- the right to be a parent.

There is an interplay with a number of statutes that must be considered.

1) 48.41 recognizes the right of a parent to voluntarily consent to termination of one's parental rights.

2) 48.42(1) addresses the nature of the TPR petition and recognizes that voluntary consent exists as a ground separate and distinct from involuntary grounds.

3) 48.422 (3) and (7) set forth the statutory requirements that must be considered by the court when a parent wants to voluntarily consent to TPR.

In addition to the statutory mandates, two appellate cases have addressed the voluntary consent issue.

1) In Interest of A.B., 151 Wis.2d 312(Ct. App. 1989) makes it clear that the court must be satisfied that the decision is informed and voluntary. A careful analysis of the circumstances of the parent must be undertaken.

2) In Interest of D.L.S., 112 Wis.2d 180(1983) discusses the tremendous interests at stake and how the court must ensure that due process is afforded.

In making sure that due process is honored, the court must inquire about, and obtain directly from the parent, information regarding education, physical and mental health, employment, medication issues and drug issues. The court must be satisfied that:
1) there have been no threats, promises, force or coercion brought to bear upon the parent.
2) the parent understands that he/she is giving up important rights: right to jury trial or court trial; right to confront witnesses; right to call witness; right to testify; right to make the state meet its burden of proof.
3) the parent and counsel have thoroughly discussed the decision being made and its consequences.
4) the parent understands that the decision will result in the parent forfeiting any say in the life of the child.
5) the parent realizes that there are alternatives to TPR that may be available.

In the final analysis, if the court is sure that the parent is making his/her decision with his/her eyes wide open and that the decision has been carefully thought out with full understanding of all that is being done, the court can accept the voluntary consent and then proceed to disposition.
Notwithstanding the voluntary consent, however, the court must be independently satisfied that TPR is warranted by considering all the evidence in light of the "polestar" standard -- Best Interest of Child in light of factors in 48.426(3).

In my next blog, I will discuss the Fact Finding Phase in a TPR case.

98 comments:

  1. How do permanency plans work if the child has not been in the Bureau system and remains in sole care of the mother? Father is volutarily seeking TPR. Hasn't seen the child, has no interest (was only granted supervised visitation on the grounds of domestic violence; has not resumed visitation for 13 months), and mother is not contesting this. Can you talk about hypothetical here? Child has strong relationship with both maternal and paternal grandparents.

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  2. If a father voluntarily signs over his rights will he still have to pay child support?

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  3. If a parent's rights are terminated the obligation to pay child support ends.

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  4. my ex is always starting drama and wanting 2 fight is there a way i can see me kids and not deal with her? like through the court or something?

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  5. You can petition the divorce court for relief.

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  6. Child support is enforced for arrears even after a tpr.

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  7. My ex-husband, per our divorce, has to have supervised visits 2 times a month because of the restraining order I have in place against him. He threatened to kill me and our 2 kids, as well as himself, so I got the order against him. Anyways, he hasn't showed up for a single visit. He claims no one will give him a ride. Anyways, NOW he is in jail, awaiting a hearing, because he has been having sex with a 14 year old girl. He's being charged with sexual assault against the same child more than 3 times. A felony. So, basically I am VERY interested in terminating his parental rights. He hasnt worked at all in the past 7 years. Never paid child support, was abusive (mentally) and now he may be a convicted sex offender. Can his rights be terminated? Do I have to be married to someone else in order for his rights to be terminated?

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  8. Private terminations may be sought. There is no requirement that they be commenced by the State or a Department of Human Services. You do not have to be married in order to seek termination of parental rights. Whether you have enough evidence is a question of fact. You should discuss this issue with an attorney who specializes in TPR cases.

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  9. Thanks for your help! I will seek out an attorney. I was just also wondering if a TPR, whether it's voluntary or not, had to wait until his criminal case is over with? Or can you do both at the same time? Maybe the outcome of his criminal case would help the TPR case?

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    1. There is no legal impediment to filing a TPR action because of a pending criminal case.

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  10. My ex has signed (had notarized) all of the papers to voluntarily terminate his rights. My husband will be adopting her. He lives out of the state and wants nothing to do with this any further. Can the termination be granted with him not appearing?

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    1. Section 48.41(2)(b) addresses the issue you raise. Having the father available by phone to answer any questions would be the best practice.

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  11. i have 3 children-2 different mothers-and i have no contact with 2 of the 3. The mother and i have no contact and i question the paternity of one of those 2 children. I do pay support, but i struggle to do so, with barely enough left to support myself. I wasn't at the initial child support hearing because I couldn't afford to take a day off to travel to Vernon County. I don't know these 2 children except 1 is a boy and 1 girl. I would like to give up my parental rights to these 2 kids and wonder what is involved and would i continue to have to pay support for them?

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  12. Courts are very reluctant to grant a parent's request to terminate parental rights for economic reasons. With becoming a parent comes the responsibility to BE a responsible parent.

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  13. How do you and how long do you have to reverse a voluntary TPR case?.I heard one year after is your limit.

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    1. Section 48.46(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes addresses your question. It sets forth that a motion for relief from the judgment shall be filed within 30 days after entry of judgment or order terminating parental rights unless a timely notice of intent to appeal was filed under 808.04(7m) in which case 809.07(5) governs. Usually, a notice of intent to appeal is not filed when a voluntary consent is entered.

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  14. My boyfriend had a child with his high school girlfriend when he was 17. The child is now four and even though my boyfriend isn't on the birth certificate, he still payed child support and took him every other weekend. A year ago, my boyfriend was diagnosed with leukemia and put on disability, so his child support responsibilities were put on hold. He's still on disability. He lives on Wisconsin, and I just moved to Kentucky to be with my family. Now, he wishes to move down to Kentucky as well. He feels no connection to his child, whose mother has found another boyfriend and had another child. He feels the best thing would be to sign over his rights so his child can be with his new family instead of constantly tossed between two households. Would it be easy to sign over his rights? And can he move out of state ASAP or does he have to wait until the process is completely over? Can he move and do the hearing over the phone?

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    1. Courts are reluctant to grant even a voluntary consent under circumstances that you set forth because it would leave the child with only one parent. It might serve your boyfriend well to speak with an attorney who was familiar with termination of parental rights cases regarding the specifics in his case and whether there is some action he can take

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  15. Where do I begin, My husband has had sole custody of his son since he was about 6 when his mother went to prison. She dropped out of his life for 10 years. My stepson has been in and out of trouble with the law.wrap around Milwaukee and probation,foster and group homes since age about 12-13 he has had issues with his bio mom not being in her life. She took him in at age 14 and he continued to be trouble she threw him out and we have had no contact with my step son for 2+ years living on the streets or where ever. My husband would like to know how does he go about legally no longer wanting sole custody of now 16yr old 17 in a month. Bio mother does not want either. Including family members. He is a danger and all the programs we did to help him he becameworse

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    1. Your husband may want to contact a lawyer and take the matter back before the Family Court that entered the custody order to seek relief. He might also want to contact the child protective services agency in your community to see if services can be obtained through them.

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  16. My ex has not been part of my daughters life...he has a son with one woman and one on the way with another. He doesnt work, cant support himself or his children and has a serious drug addiction...Im curious if termination of rights is an option???

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    1. Courts are usually reluctant to terminate the rights of only one living parent unless it is for the purpose of a stepparent adoption. With respect to your specific circumstances, you might consult with a lawyer with expertise in TPR law for advice.

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  17. I haven't seen my child since 2005, nor heard from him since 2010, or know of his where about's, and I'm considing signing over my rights.I have been paying my child support obigation since I' ve come home from prison. Can I terminate my rights as the father of this child.

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    1. Ordinarily, a court will not terminate a parent's rights via a voluntary consent unless it is for an adoption. You may want to consult with a lawyer familiar with TPR law to discuss your specific circumstances.

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  18. i want my ex husband to sign away his rights to our son and have my new fiance adopt him, would i be able to have that happen considering my ex has mentioned signing away his rights anyway numerous times before. And would it be difficult to make that happen?

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    1. Courts are reluctant to terminate the rights of only one parent unless it is for purpose of a step parent adopting the child. You should consult with an attorney who has expertise in termination of parental rights cases for legal advice regarding your specific circumstances.

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  19. I am confused by the seemingly straightforward and simple process to sign over TPR voluntarily in the state of WI and the answers on your blog and elsewhere online that indicate that courts are so reluctant to do it/won't do it except in the case of a stepparent adoption.

    I understand the obvious and serious ramifications on both a child and parents with a TPR and am trying to determine for myself whether I need to obtain a lawyer or simply file the paperwork. If this is such a difficult process, is it recommended that anyone seeking this action be represented by a lawyer?

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    1. There are two ways that TPR cases are commenced. First by "the Government" (ie. District Attorney, Corporation Counsel or a Child Welfare Agency)in circumstances where it is seeking to terminate the rights of BOTH parents. Rarely does "the Government" start an action to terminate the rights of just one parent. The reason is that the parent whose rights are not being terminated will have the power and authority to allow the parent whose rights are terminated to continue to have a role in the life of the child which may be very detrimental to the child. Second, a private action by one parent seeking to terminate the rights of the other parent for purposes of a step parent adoption or by one parent seeking to terminate the rights of both parents so the child, usually a newborn, can be adopted by a family selected by the parent who filed the action. If a parent files a petition to do a voluntary consent of himself or herself alone, courts ordinarily will not grant the petition because usually it is a scenario where the parent is trying to shirk his/her parental responsibility -- usually to avoid child support or other financially responsibilities. A TPR must be in the best interest of the child. A parent who files a petition to just terminate that parent's rights is rarely in the best interest of the child. There is an old saying: "you can never say never and you can never say always." This is why it is important for a parent who is considering a TPR action to consult with an attorney who has expertise in TPR cases to advise a parent as to all considerations and issues in the particular case.

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  20. Please provide some insight into the court process in the case where an adoption is finalized and later (within one year of the finalization of the adoption), the birth mother enters a motion to withdraw her voluntary TPR to the court. The court refused to hear the motion and she files an appeal on the decision. What can or will occur next in the court process?

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    1. The rights of a parent (whose parental rights are terminated based on the parent's voluntary consent) to withdraw the voluntary consent are very limited. Section 48.46(2) provides that a parent who enters a voluntary consent has 30 days after the TPR judgment is entered to bring a motion to reopen and vacate the voluntary consent based on a ground specified in certain provisions in 806.07. The only exception to the 30 time period is if that parent files a timely notice of intent to pursue relief from the judgment (within 30 days after the entry of judgment)under 808.04(7m) in which case the motion to reopen and vacate shall be filed within the time permitted by 809.107(5). As one can see from this statute, the ability to obtain relief from a voluntary consent is very limited. In the enactment of 48.46(2), the legislature makes finality for the child a priority. The Children's Code is built around the concept of "best interest of the child." If a parent seeks to reopen but cannot meet the timelines in 48.46(2) and relief is denied by the trial court, the parent may seek appellate relief from the decision of the trial court.

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  21. In the event that the biological parent seeks relieve from the Appellate Court, what would be the next step in the process? Are all appeals heard by Appellate Court?

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    1. Once a case is presented to the Court of Appeals, it remains in the appellate process until the appeal is resolved -unless the Court of Appeals remands the case to the trial court for further fact finding it needs before it can resolve all issues.

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  22. Can I take my son's father to court to TPR? What type of evidence is needed for the court to actually grant it? Yes, he makes child support payments. BUT only because they take it out of his paychecks. There have been numerous occasions where I have set up a time for him to see his son and when they day comes he makes up an excuse of why he can't. He hasn't seen his son in 6 months. And he's spent 15 days with our son total. I also have tons of texts saying he doesn't want anything to do with my son and I. Would this be enough evidence?

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  23. Every case is different because of the unique circumstances surrounding every parent child relationship. While one parent can commence a private termination of parental rights action against the other parent, usually courts are reluctant to order a one parent termination, even where the parent's relationship with the child is very strained and poor unless it is being done to facilitate a step parent adoption. The reluctance is due to the fact that if the remaining parent dies the child becomes an orphan. You should consider consulting a lawyer with expertise in TPR and Adoption cases for legal advice in your specific circumstances.

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  24. My 2 small children have not had any contact with my ex husband (their biological father) since the divorce 3 years ago. He makes no attempt to see them. Aside from the child support that is automatically taken from his paycheck he does not contribute to their life. He currently owes over $7500. in past due support and has been found in contempt twice over the past 3 years for not maintaining employment or notifying the child support agency in changes to employment or residency. I will be getting married next year and am interested in having the bio father TPR and my future husband adopt the children. Do the past due child support amounts still get paid, even after the termination of rights? And, is there ever a "settlement" amount (for lack of better words) paid to the parent maintaining custody to allow for future financial expenses? And who customarily pays for the TPR fees.. both bio parents equally? Simply put, if he owes $7500 in past due and agrees to TPR can an "agreement" be made for payments (that wouldn't be classified as support payments), or a lump sum to be received as part of the agreement? Or is that illegal? I'm not trying to imply that he would be "paying me off" in order to avoid any future custodial expenses by TPR, but is it uncustomary or illegal for a separate monetary agreement (one time settlement amount, etc) be arranged that was satisfactory for both the original bio parents? I do plan on consulting with an attorney, but I was hoping you might be able to help with some of these questions. Thanks

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    1. Once parental rights are terminated, it ends the responsibility of the parent to pay future child support. It would be best for you to discuss with your own attorney your questions regarding any settlement for past due child support.

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    2. In reguards to a tpr my daughter is almost 9 years old her ajudicated father met her when she was 3 weeks didnt hold her or anything didnt even pay attentiin to her we went to court and he verbally gave up his rights nothing further was done his name was not put on her birth certificate and she doesnt know of him he does not and has never paid child support my husband and I have taken care of her since the day she was born the only way I know to reach this guy is through facebook trying to find the easiest way for my husband to adopt her with out dragging her through the jury and courts can he voluntary give up his rights with out going to court or could this be ground of abandonment to his parental responsibilities?

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    3. You have the ability to file a Private TPR action and allege both Voluntary Consent on the part of the adjudicated father, and in the alternative an involuntary ground. If he does not want to do the Voluntary Consent, he has a right to contest the proceedings, including the right to a jury trial. I would suggest that you contact a lawyer who has expertise in Private TPR cases to give you advice and counsel and representation to avoid problems.

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  25. I’m getting a divorce and the court says that since I was pregnant when we got married my soon to be ex-husband is LEGALY the father of my son. Can he give up his rights after the divorce? They want him to stay legally the father after the divorce FOREVER??? No I don’t know who the father is!

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    1. Courts are reluctant to terminate the parental rights of a "legal" father, which is the case with your husband because if the parent raising the child dies, the child becomes an orphan. Also, termination ceases a child support obligation which can be financially detrimental for the child. You should consult with your divorce lawyer for further details.

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  26. My brother was forced by the courts to give up his parental rights to his son . He has been deceased for 6 years now :( . His sons mother also gave up her rights to him and unbeknownst to me or my mother her dad and stepmom adopted him . We didn't know anything about it until a few years later . Do we have any rights to visit him or not ? Thank you for your time .

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    1. Termination of parental rights completely severs the legal ties between the child and all birth family members. The adoptive parents can make all the decisions with respect to the child can or cannot see

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  27. Im in arrears approx $27,000 that I have full intention on paying plus current support. If my ex girlfriend gets married, does her husband have any legal obligation to pay or support her and my child even if he didnt adopt? And what affect, if any, could said marriage have on me petitioning for TPR?

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    1. A marriage does not create a legal obligation to pay child support unless the parent adopts the child after the birth parent's rights are terminated. In yoiur circumstance, ordinarily unless you and the mother agree to your termination so her husband can adopt, a petition to terminate may not be accepted. You should consult with an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.

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  28. If a mother is getting assistance from the state. Can the father sign his rights away and does he still have to pay child support.

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  29. If a father has his rights terminated voluntarily or involuntarily, under Wisconsin law his obligation to pay future child support is also terminated. However, the father is still liable for any arrearages.

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  30. If a father pays child support but wants to terminate his rights as a parent but the mother lives off the child support for her own being can he still voluntarily terminate his rights or does the mother has to be okay without the child support?

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    1. Voluntary consents based on financial considerations are not granted by courts. It is not deemed in a child's best interest.

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  31. What if the State continues to pursue current child support payments, not just arrears, with accrued interest and income tax leans on a parent who has signed over his parental rights? Is there legal recourse for this parent?

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    1. The State can pursue arrears and interest on the arrears aftert termination but they cannot pursue any current child support once rights have been terminated. However, the State is not automatically notified - they must be told about the TPR.

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    2. Wow. What a disheartening mess. I love my daughter whom I don't even know. I know I need to take responsibility for fathering a child but the State makes it so hard to do the right thing with their harsh penalties of interest and tax leans and the warrant. It's just impossible to get caught up and attorneys are so expensive. There has to be a simpler solution. Im not a bad person. But this situation is haunting me.

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  32. What are the actual step to an appeal for a TPR? If an appeal is granted does that mean another trial?

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    1. The appeal process, requirements and timelines are very intricate. Any person considering an appeal should consult with an attorney with expertise in TPR cases to make sure compliance with all of the rules occurs. If an appeal is successful it may mean a new trial -- but not necessarily. It depends on the issue that is appealed.

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    2. Well a TPR was granted and now the bio mom is appealing. How long does it usually take to hear if the appeal is successful?

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    3. TPR appeals are usually expedited but they can still take anywhere from 90 days to 9 months or so. Every case is different based on the specific issues in the case.

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  33. My late brother terminated his parental rights so that his daughter's step father could adopt her. I have not seen the daughter for 40 years. I am the only other living relative. The attorney wants a copy of the termination of parental rights for the estate - are they public documents, or would I be able to secure a copy for court purposes? In addition, my brother died in Nevada and I have secured an attorney there.

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    1. In Wisconsin TPR documents are not ordinarily public documents. You should consult with an attorney in the State where the TPR occurred for advice on how to proceed with such a request.

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  34. My daughter's father wants to voluntarily terminate his parental rights in the best interest for her and my husband would like to adopt her. Do you by chance know what papers need to be filled out? How much it will cost and how long it can take for this process? Will there be a court hearing? Also I was wondering if we would have to file for a name change to change my daughter's last name or if that would be included in the stepparent adoption? I apologize for all the questions! Not sure how this works.
    Thank you in advance :)

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    1. In terms of the paperwork and cost and the process: First, Termination must be completed and then Step Parent Adoption can follow. The time to complete the process depends on proper service of process and the involvement of a guardian ad litem and completion of a home study by a social service agency licencsed to do a home study. A name change can be included in the step parent adoption aspect of the case. I strongly suggest that you hire an attorney with experience in TPR/Step parent adoption cases in order to avoid pitfalls which will delay the process.

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  35. question the mother of my step children's sister,wants to give up her rights and make her a ward of the court. can the biological father get the child even if the mother signed a new contact form?

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  36. Termination of only one parent's rights does not affect the parental rights of the other parent. However, it is quite unusual for a court to terminate only one parent's rights.

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  37. what about grand parent rights?? would these need to be invoked before a tpr to ensure the child continues a relationship with the grand parents upon termination of parental rights by the related parent??

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    1. During the Dispositional Phase of a TPR action, the court will take into consideration the nature and extent of any relationship the child has with grandparents and other family members in making its determination as to what is in the best interests of the child.

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  38. Can the father of a child sign over his rights to the grandparents (Mother's parents) of the child? The grandparents have a very close relationship with the child?

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    1. A parent can not merely sign a document and "sign away" his or her rights. A termination of parental rights action must be filed and a court must find that termination is in the child's best interest.

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  39. TPR was granted in December for my foster child. About 10 days ago I received an email stating that the DA received a "Notice of Appeal" from the Bio's attorney. I thought that had to be filed within 30 days? Is this something new or the norm?

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    1. A parent who has had his or her parental rights has 30 days to file a Notice of Intent to Appeal. Once that is done, generally speaking, the parent then has to apply to the Public Defenders Office for appointment of appellate counsel. Once that attorney is appointed, that attorney contacts the parent to discuss the appeal as well as trial counsel for his or her file and to discuss the case. Appellate counsel needs to order the transcripts of the trial court proceedings and after review discusses the appeal with the client again regarding appellate counsel's thoughts and opinions. If the decision is made to appeal, then a Notice of Appeal is filed and a briefing schedule will be established. The bottom line is that appeals take time. It can be 9 months or more even though these appeals are expedited. You should contact the DA who handled your case for more specific information as it pertains to your case and the timeline for your case.

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    2. Thank You. So does the nine month window include the time from the filing of a "Notice of Intent to Appeal. Or start once the "Notice of Appeal is filed?

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    3. These are just estimates but 9 months from Notice of Intent to Appeal.

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  40. Can the birth mom appeal more than once?

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  41. For a many reasons I am about to give up my parental rights. The mother has married and he is willing to adopt the child. The mother of my child is borderline psychotic and I don't think there is anything she won't do to get what she wants. She does not work at all, as she states her occupation is a "stay at home mom," and will do anything to receive money. She is a narcissist and compulsive lier, almost believing many of her lies are actually true, and has even broke the law. She had hired a lawyer to make sure the process is completed correctly and I am a little worried by this. The attorney almost seems to be leaving me out of the case, as the final court hearing has been set and I still haven't received any paperwork for the matter. In addition, the attorney told me on the phone that I don't even have to show up for the hearing. Is there any way possible her lawyer can come up with something, bending the law in anyway, and she can have my rights terminated and still force me to pay child support?

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    1. Termination of parental rights ends the responsibility of that parent to pay future child support. If there is any arrearage that must still be paid. Once your rights are terminated you should notify the court and child support unit in the county where you make your payments and provide them with a copy of TPR order so they cancel the child support order. That will not automatically occur.

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  42. My husband is in agreement with his children's mother to sign off his rights for the children to be adopted by her husband. He has not seen his children since 2008 and they now just started talking and are in agreement. She, however, wants my husband to file and start everything. We want to make sure we have the right paperwork before we drive to Milwaukee to file(we live an hr away but the children live in Milwaukee). Where can we find the forms to file? Do we need to file more forms other than just the petition itself? Do we have to file paperwork to have the mother notified? Also, where do we file it at? The main court house or in Tosa?

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  43. The process is a bit complicated. There are multiple forms, service of process requirements, the need for a social service agency to investigate and report to the court, hearings in the termination (TPR) case, etc. People who try to proceed pro se usually make mistakes along the way. There is an old saying, "Don't be pennywise and dollar foolish." Best practice is to hire an attorney who knows the process to get it done right. Actually, it is usually the responsibility of the parent who wants his or her spouse to do the steparent adoption to file the TPR and Adoption case. If the child's mother does not want to do this then her husband won't be able to adopt. It is the courthouse -- Children's Court Center in Wauwatosa - where the paperwork are filed and hearings are conducted.

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  44. I have a 10 year old daughter. My ex husband has not had any contact with our daughter for over 2 years. He has never paid any child support. My fiance would like to adopt her when we are married. If my ex husband has been absent and not financially contributed anything would i likely win a TPR case? If i were to pursue a case what would be the first step be? Also initially he had brought up TPR, but recently when I contacted him he retracted that. Any help would be appreciated!

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    1. Every case is different and fact specific. You should consult with a lawyer with expertise in termination cases.

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  45. 3 of my children are in fostercare, and 1 is having a tpr filed for him, due to him being a newborn with disabilities and its almost been a year. If tpr is granted, does this apply to future children aswell? As in the newborn is taken at birth, even tho healthy & no drugs in the system?

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  46. Under certain circumstances, an involuntary termination of parental rights can be used as an independent ground to terminate parental rights with respect to other children. You should discuss this matter with your TPR lawyer.

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  47. Your Honor, I made the mistake of getting pregnant a woman that is dangerous with an extensive criminal record, who has battered me, who I have a DV Injunction against. I am more than $100,000 in non-dischargeable debit. I tried to get custody, and was slammed with all the court GAL costs that continue to rack up and even though I am the confirmed victim of domestic violence, work in the criminal justice system, and have a clean record the system has treated me in such a sexist fashion that I was given supervised visitation, when she is dangerous, and a clear and present danger to me and my 2 other children I have custody of from a prior marriage. If that is the stance that family court wants to take, I can not afford the supervised visitation at $80/hour and I don't want the civil liablity for action of a child raised in a lifestyle of drugs, gangs and crime. I am considering a voluntary TPR. On legitimate safety grounds of the father and children of the father, and the fact I will never ever cooperate with supervised visitation, when I am not a criminal and have a proven track record as a good father, would my TPR have a chance of approval,? I can not afford a lawyer and don't qualify for any free services. I am still paying of $25,000 in legal bills or more. Please help me.

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    1. Your facts and circumstances are very complicated. As I have stated in earlier responses to questions, courts are very reluctant to grant a one parent TPR. I realize that you have financial problems, but to have a more definitive answer to your question, you should consult with an attorney.

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  48. My ex-husband and I have been divorced for 3 years. Prior to the divorce he had established a relationship with our daughters, age 6 and 9. When 3 years ago, I met my current husband, who is very involved with my daughters. My ex-husband has been very sporadic with his visitations over the last 3 years. He will disappear for 4 months and then come back and be involved with our daughters for 6 months and disappear again. My ex-husband has now been mentioning terminating his parental rights and having my current husband adopt. My ex-husband has a tendency to be very indecisive. I have documented and saved all the text messages about terminating rights and documenting when he doesn't show up. I want my current husband to adopt my daughters and my daughters want him to adopt, but my question is, what is the likelihood that the courts will terminate my ex-husband's rights considering my daughters' ages?

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    1. If your ex-husband is willing to do a voluntary consent to terminate his parental rights, the procedure will not be complicated. However, if he is not willing to do so then you must prove a ground by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence AND the judge must be satisfied the termination is in the child's best interest. You should consult with an attorney with expertise in TPR cases about the specific facts and circumstances in your case to determine your likelihood of success in a TPR action.

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  49. My wife and I separated last year. I got another woman pregnant and the baby is now 2 months old. I feel no connection to this child and feel being with my wife and family is where I belong. Am I able to terminate my rights and be relieved of all responsibilities? I have spoken with my therapist but she is not fully aware of the WI laws.

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    Replies
    1. Courts are very reluctant to terminate the parental rights of one parent unless it is for the purpose of a stepparent adoption. You should consult with an attorney who has special expertise in TPR cases to discuss your specific facts and circumstances.

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  50. My stepdaughter voluntarily gave up her parental rights to her young daughter when she was in rehab for heroin. This was about a year and a half ago. Her mother adopted her daughter in December, 2013, and she is now 2 1/2 years old. My stepdaughter did not feel that she had any options when she gave up her rights and her mother promised her many things to get her to terminate. My stepdaughter has been sober for over a year now and has another baby. She feels she gave up her rights under duress. Does she have any legal options in Wisconsin? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Appellate rights are very limited when a person does a voluntary consent. Your stepdaughter may want to consult with an attorney with expertise in TPR cases to discuss her case.

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  51. My sister has two children with someone who has not seen them in years and only gets less than $5 a month for child support. He is in and out of jail and is currently in jail. He has indicated that is willing to terminate his rights. My sister has remarried; however, they haven't spoke about her new husband adopting the children. Would the courts allow this?

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  52. I have a child that I never knew about for close to 4 years
    I feel no connection to the kid
    The kid has a male figure that has been there since she was born
    I am willing g to financially support it
    But I don't want anything to do with this kid.
    Is it possible to get granted the request to end parental rights?

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  53. You should consult with an attorney who has special expertise in termination of parental rights cases in your jurisdiction to discuss your particular circumstances. Every case is different. There is no one answer for all cases.

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  54. My ex got married during the pregnancy of our child, and I have seen him less than a handful of times over the past 10years. They were going to try to force me to give up my rights based on there being no contact for such a long time so her husband(who's been there before the child was even born) could adopt him, but didn't have the funds to go through with the process. I do believe it is in the best interest for him to adopt the child since he's been there since before day 1.

    1)How do I go about voluntarily giving up my rights, preferably without having to get a lawyer?

    2)With this scenario that I presented, is it more likely the courts grant my quest to voluntarily give up my rights so the step-father can adopt him?

    3) Will my child support obligations end because of the termination of rights and adoption?

    Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. You should consult with your ex-wife about filing a private TPR action. Courts are willing to grant a voluntary consent of one parent for purposes of facilitating a step parent adoption. Many communities have self help center for people who do not have an attorney.

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  55. So the TPR went through. The appeal went my way. But now the Bio mom is appealing to the Supreme Court. Is that process any longer or shorter than a regular appeal?

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    1. If the Supreme Court takes the case (they decline more than they take) it could be 6 to 9 more months.

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  56. Ok so my husband and I are completely stuck and do not know what to do. My husband has 2 children with his ex girlfriend. She is remarried and he has not seen his kids since 2008. She has child support for him, but has told the courts she does not want the money and wants her husband to adopt the kids however she will not file the paperwork. She doesn't want my husband involved at all but will not lift a finger to do anything about it. She told us that we have to file the TPR paperwork and adoption paperwork and everything or else she wont do anything. My husband stills gets money taken out of checks and a large part of our taxes as well. He feels that if he is not allowed to see his kids and since she wants to adopt the kids he this isnt fair and she agreed it isnt fair but wont do a thing about it. My husband wants to see his kids but they do not know who he is and they think her husband is their father. The last time he seen the kids was when they were 2 and 4. they are now 10 and 8. Is there any way my husband can file the paperwork to have his rights terminated and for the adoption?

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    1. Your husband's circumstances are complicated. TPR and Adoption may be possible but consultation with an attorney with expertise in these types of cases is of the utmost importance.

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    2. Do you know of a lawyer that we would work with families on state assistance? Or would set up a monthly payment plan? We are on a very tight budget with a child of our own to car for and currently my husband is at the hospital for a possible brain condition and could be here for quite awhile.

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    3. Depending on the community you live in, you should contact your local bar association -- in Milwaukee it would be the Milwaukee Bar Association. It has a Lawyer Referral Program which can link you up with an attorney for your special circumstances.

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