Filing your Wisconsin stepparent adoption doesn’t have to be difficult.


Prior to filing your Petition for adoption, you must have been a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for six months prior to the filing of the petition, which residency must be stated in the complaint and proved at the final hearing (Drivers License, etc.). If both parties currently reside in the state, then there is no time period required.


If you have minor children living with your spouse in another state for over six months, then you should consider filing in that state as that court has jurisdiction over the children. Your spouse can waive that jurisdiction in writing.


You should file the adoption in the county your spouse lives in, or in the county that you both lived in when you separated, or in your county if your spouse lives out of state. You or your spouse must have a Wisconsin address in the county of filing. Wisconsin civilian residents living overseas may file in Wisconsin if they have maintained their residency in Wisconsin.


The grounds which typically justify the termination of parental rights in a stepparent adoption involve abandonment, failure to support the child, imprisonment, certain abuse, and other grounds. The grounds for the termination of parental rights is different for each state, but all states accept the grounds of abandonment and lack of support, and some states include other grounds.


In Wisconsin, the absent parent has given implied consent to adoption or relinquishment pursuant to Section 26-10A-9 as outlined below:


  1. The absent parent has abandoned the adoptee, failing to offer financial and/or emotional support for a period over 6 months from the filing of this petition.
  2. The absent parent has knowingly left the adoptee with the other parent without provisions for support and without communication, or otherwise maintaining a significant parental relationship with the adoptee for a period of over 6 months from the filing of this petition.
  3. The natural father failed to comply with Section 26-10C-1, which deals with the putative father.


Most states do not have any provisions for the visitation rights of the parent losing parental rights, or the grandparents associated with that parent. There are some states who will recognize agreements for visitation by the parenting losing their parental rights, but this is typically up to the discretion of the adopting parents.


Our documents are for the entire State of Wisconsin.

You must file the adoption documents in the Family Court in the county in which you are filing. Some court addresses for larger counties are as follows:


Douglas County Circuit Court: 1313 Belnap St., Superior, WI 54880-2769 Phone: (715) 395-1469


Eau Claire County Circuit Court: 721 Oxford Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54703-5496 Phone: (715) 839-4816


La Crosse County Circuit Court: 333 Vine St., La Crosse, WI 54601-3296 Phone: (608) 785-9590


Brown County Circuit Court: 100 S Jefferson St., Green Bay, WI 54305-3600 Phone: (920) 448-4155


Outagamie County Circuit Court: 320 S Walnut St., Appleton, WI 54911-5991 Phone: (920) 832-5131


Winnebago County Circuit Court:415 Jackson Dr., Oshkosh, WI 54903-2808 Phone: (920) 236-4848


Dane County Circuit Court: City County Building, 215 S Hamilton St., Madison, WI 53703 Phone: (608) 266-4679


Milwaukee County Circuit Court: 901 N 9th St., Milwaukee, WI 53233 Phone: (414) 278-5362


Waukesha County Circuit Court: 515 W Moreland Blvd., Waukesha, WI 53188-2428 Phone: (262) 896-8525


Rock County Circuit Court: 51 S Main St., Janesville, WI 53545-3978 Phone: (608) 743-2200


Adams County Circuit Court: 402 Main St., Friendship, WI 53934-0220 Phone: (608) 339-4208


Columbia County Circuit Court:400 Dewitt St., Portage, WI 53901-0587 Phone: (608) 742-9642


Juneau County Circuit Court: 220 E State St., Mauston, WI 53948-0246 Phone: (608) 847-9356


Sauk County Circuit Court: 515 Oak St., Baraboo, WI 53913-0449 Phone: (608) 355-3287


Monroe County Circuit Court:112 S Court St., Sparta, WI 54656 Phone: (608) 269-8745


Sawyer County Circuit Court: 10610 Main, Hayward, WI 54843 Phone: (715) 634-4887


Dunn County Circuit Court:615 Stokke Pkwy Ste 1500, Menomonie, WI 54751 Phone: (715) 232-2611


Polk County Circuit Court:1001 West Main St., Balsam Lake, WI 54810-9071 Phone: (715) 485-9299


Bayfield County Circuit Court: 117 E 5th St., Washburn, WI 54891-9464 Phone: (715) 373-6108


The court filing fees for an adoption in Wisconsin are approximately $175. The publication fee is approximately $65.


There may also be a home study fee that is paid later in the adoption process. Check with your local court for the fee, if any, that may be associated with the home study.


You may call the Clerk of the Court in your county to determine the exact fees in your county.


In many stepparent adoptions, the absent parent may be willing to sign a consent form which consents to the termination of their parental rights and consents to the adoption. If the absent parent is willing to sign a consent, this will make the process a little easier because the court will know from the beginning that all parties agree to the stepparent adoption. Many of our adoption customers don’t know the whereabouts of the other parent, or the other parent has such a disinterest that he/she just won’t sign any documents. In this situation, you will file the adoption documents and then serve the absent parent by the following manner:


1. Whereabouts of the other parent is UNKNOWN:
If you are unable to locate the absent parent after a diligent search, then you can serve the parent by publication. This means that a notice is published in a local legal publication. Typically the publication is once a week for 4 weeks. The publication fee for the newspaper averages around $85, but varies depending on where you live. Upon the filing of the Affidavit, the clerk shall direct that service of notice be made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. We provide all the required documents for service by publication.


2.The parent just won’t sign, but grounds exist for the adoption: If you know the whereabouts of the other parent, but that parent won’t sign due to disinterest, you can have that parent served by the Sheriff’s department or a private process server. This can be done even if the other parent is incarcerated in jail or a federal prison.


Go to our questionnaire and get started today.


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