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Wisconsin Adoption Laws

Adopting a child can be a joyous celebration of an expanded family - but not always a simple one. The legal requirements surrounding adoption can make it a complex and potentially confusing process. State laws defining who can adopt, who can be adopted, and how one can adopt can be unclear and require close scrutiny.

The legal regulations regarding adoption, including who is allowed to adopt and the special requirements for adoptive parents, are generally similar from state to state. For example, Wisconsin law requires a couple to live in the state for at least six months before adopting a child and generally doesn't require a child's consent.

This article provides a brief overview of adoption laws in the state of Wisconsin.

Adoption Laws in Wisconsin: At a Glance

Below are some of the basic rules surrounding Wisconsin adoption. See Details of State Adoption Laws to learn more.

Code Section

§ 48.81 et seq. of the Wisconsin Statutes

Who May Be Adopted

Any person minor; adult

Age that Child's Consent Needed

No child's consent is required; however, minors 12 and older must attend hearings unless the court orders otherwise

Who May Adopt

Unmarried adult, husband and wife jointly, spouse of minor's parent may adopt minor. Must be Wisconsin residents and (if practicable and if requested by birth parent) of same religion as adoptee's natural parents. Any resident adult may adopt any other adult

Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption?

6 months

State Agency/Court

Department of Health & Social Services/Circuit Court

Statute of Limitations to Challenge

40 days

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Get Legal Help with Adoptions

State standards and regulations concerning adoption can be complex and are subject to change. You can visit FindLaw's Adoption Laws section to review some of these laws and get a more general overview in our Adoption section. If you would like legal assistance with an adoption case, you can find an experienced Wisconsin adoption attorney in your area to schedule a consultation.

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