By Carlos Gamino

In the state of Wisconsin, courts have the authority to terminate parental rights. However, that’s not an authority they take lightly – and it typically requires one of two things: A significant amount of proof that a parent is completely unfit or the parent’s consent to termination. In either case, it’s very difficult to terminate a person’s parental rights in Wisconsin. This guide explains.

When Will the Courts Consider Terminating a Person’s Parental Rights?

Courts in Wisconsin will only consider terminating a person’s parental rights in extreme circumstances. Even if the parent in question volunteers to give up their rights to a child, the courts don’t generally like to grant termination.

However, there are several grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights, including abandonment, child abuse, substance abuse or incarceration. If you are the parent requesting the termination, the burden of proving that the other parent is unfit lies with you.

Related: Termination of parental rights: The basics

How to Terminate Your Ex’s Parental Rights in Wisconsin

For most people, the simplest way to ask a court to terminate a parent’s rights to a child is to work through an attorney.

If you want to terminate your ex’s parental rights, your attorney will ask you several questions about why you’d like to do so – and what proof you have that supports the fact that your ex should lose rights to your child. You’ll need proof that demonstrates that the other party is unfit to parent your child. You also need to know that termination of parental rights is very rare, and the laws governing it are very specific.

In Wisconsin, every parent has fundamental rights to the care, control and custody of their children. When parental rights are terminated, those rights are destroyed; so is a child’s legal relationship with their biological parent. Termination of parental rights means that the child’s right to affiliate with extended family through that parent, such as grandparents, is also terminated because the legal connection to that family is dissolved.

Often, judges are also concerned with whether there is a fit stepparent who is willing to adopt the child if the court agrees to terminate a biological parents rights. Generally speaking, the state’s position is that it is better for children to grow up with two parents, even if one doesn’t qualify for a “Parent of the Year” award.

A Word on Abandonment

If your child’s other parent has effectively abandoned your child, you should discuss your situation with an attorney. Abandonment only occurs in very specific circumstances, and it’s often very complicated.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Termination of Parental Rights?

Now that you know it’s incredibly difficult to terminate another person’s parental rights, and that you must have significant proof in order for a court to even consider such a petition, you may wish to speak to a family law attorney who can give you the guidance you need. Please feel free to call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation; if it’s easier, you can also request a consultation online.

Attorney Carlos Gamino