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What Wisconsin families should know about CHIPS

| Apr 28, 2020 | Family Law |

In the Wisconsin court system, CHIPS stands for children in need of protection and services. This is a legal request for court intervention for a minor involved in the juvenile justice system or otherwise at risk. 

These are the answers to the common questions parents have when they learn about a CHIPS petition in their child’s name. 

Who filed a CHIPS petition? 

This process starts when someone makes a report to law enforcement or social services indicating that a child needs mental health services and/or has experienced abuse or neglect. 

What happens next? 

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families will open an investigation to make sure the child is safe. When the social worker or police officer finds unsafe conditions, he or she will recommend that the court remove minor children from the home. 

A juvenile intake worker will review the child’s case. Depending on his or her findings, the judge may place the child back with the parents or in temporary custody with family members, foster parents or other legal guardians. The judge can also recommend inpatient mental health services where needed. 

Parents can agree with the intake worker’s decision or ask for a detention hearing, which must take place within two business days according to Wisconsin state law. During this hearing, the judge will decide where the child should stay while the investigation occurs. The district attorney in charge of the case must file a legal document detailing the reasons for CHIPS intervention, which the parents will also receive. 

Does the child need a lawyer? 

The court will appoint a guardian ad litem. This specialized attorney represents the child in court and makes a recommendation to the judge based on his or her best interests. 

Parents do not have to have a lawyer, but they have the right to hire an attorney to represent them in court. An attorney can also help them read the petition and understand their rights and responsibilities during the proceedings. The judge will make a legal order with steps to take before the child can return home, such as substance abuse treatment or family counseling.