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Grounds — Abandonment by Biological Parent, Occurring Prior to Adjudication as Parent, as Ground for Termination, §§ 48.02(13), 48.415(1)(a)3

State v. James P., 2005 WI 80, affirming, 2004 WI App 124

Issue: Whether biological father’s parental rights could be terminated on the ground of “abandonment” where he was not adjudicated as father until after alleged periods of abandonment.


¶15 We hold that an individual who is in fact the biological father of a nonmarital child satisfies the definition of “parent” in § 48.02(13), as he is a “biological parent,” notwithstanding that he has not officially been adjudicated as the child’s biological father. Because such an individual satisfies the definition of “parent,” he may have his parental rights terminated based on periods of abandonment that occurred prior to his official adjudication as the child’s biological father, assuming he has failed to establish a “good cause” affirmative defense to the ground of abandonment.

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