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Does involuntary termination of parental rights sever the obligation to pay birthing costs?

Milwaukee, WI |

Wis Stat. 48.40 (2) "Termination of parental rights" means that, pursuant to a court order, all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties and obligations existing between parent and child are permanently severed.

What if:

1. The order of birthing costs was "held open" after birth,
2. The other parent subsequently marries and the new step-parent adopts the child,
3. Parental rights are involuntarily terminated after private motion of the other parent,
4. State files a motion for "modification of support order" asking for an order of repayment of birth expenses and insurance.

Does the statute above sever the obligation to pay these expenses? Any specific Wisconsin case law that would be important to read?

Thank you so very much for your time.

Attorney Answers 1

  1. If your rights are involuntarily terminated, you cease to have any rights or obligations, including the payment of birth expenses or child support, to that child. If you owed support at the time of the termination, you still owe that support - it doesn't wipe out any arrears.

    With that said, the state has an interest in collecting birth expenses, not mom. I suppose they could argue they should have been notified of the TPR and had a right to object. However, absent that, I believe they are out of luck. There isn't any specific statute or case law on this - it is just my analysis based on other statutes as applied to your fact situation.

    You should hire an attorney to make these legal arguments on your behalf in the motion by the state. Perhaps they aren't even aware of the TPR? They wouldn't automatically know about that and should be informed.

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