Wisconsin Paternity Law

This page about Wisconsin paternity laws is provided as general information only. Journey Genetic Testing does not provide legal advice or representation. We encourage you to research your state laws for the most current information, or contact a family law attorney.

Wisconsin Paternity Law: 891.39

891.39 Presumption as to whether a child is marital or nonmarital; self-crimination; birth certificates.

(1) (a) Whenever it is established in an action or proceeding that a child was born to a woman while she was the lawful wife of a specified man, any party asserting in such action or proceeding that the husband was not the father of the child shall have the burden of proving that assertion by a clear and satisfactory preponderance of the evidence. In all such actions or proceedings the husband and the wife are competent to testify as witnesses to the facts. The court or judge in such cases shall appoint a guardian ad litem to appear for and represent the child whose paternity is questioned. Results of a genetic test, as defined in s. 767.001 (1m), showing that a man other than the husband is not excluded as the father of the child and that the statistical probability of the man’s parentage is 99.0% or higher constitute a clear and satisfactory preponderance of the evidence of the assertion under this paragraph, even if the husband is unavailable to submit to genetic tests, as defined in s. 767.001 (1m).

(b) In actions affecting the family, in which the question of paternity is raised, and in paternity proceedings, the court, upon being satisfied that the parties to the action are unable to adequately compensate any such guardian ad litem for the guardian ad litem’s services and expenses, shall then make an order specifying the guardian ad litem’s compensation and expenses, which compensation and expenses shall be paid as provided in s. 967.06. If the court orders a county to pay the compensation of the guardian ad litem, the amount ordered may not exceed the compensation paid to private attorneys under s. 977.08 (4m) (b).

(2) (a) The mother of the child shall not be excused or privileged from testifying fully in any action or proceeding mentioned in sub. (1) in which the determination of whether the child is a marital or nonmarital child is involved or in issue, when ordered to testify by a court of record or any judge thereof; but she shall not be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of testifying or producing evidence, except for perjury committed in giving the testimony.

(b) The immunity provided under par. (a) is subject to the restrictions under s. 972.085.

(3) If any court under this section adjudges a child to be a nonmarital child, the clerk of court shall report the facts to the state registrar, who shall issue a new birth certificate showing the correct facts as found by the court, and shall dispose of the original, with the court’s report attached under s. 69.15 (3). If the husband is a party to the action and the court makes a finding as to whether or not the husband is the father of the child, such finding shall be conclusive in all other courts of this state. History: 1971 c. 298; 1979 c. 196; 1979 c. 352 s. 39; 1983 a. 447; 1985 a. 315; 1989 a. 122; 1993 a. 16, 486; 1995 a. 27, 225; 1997 a. 191.

The requirement of appointing a guardian ad litem under ss. 767.045 (1) [now s. 767.407 (1)] and 891.39 (1) (a) is discussed. Johnson v. Johnson, 157 Wis. 2d 490, 460 N.W.2d 166 (Ct. App. 1990).

The court’s power to appropriate compensation for court-appointed counsel is necessary for the effective operation of the judicial system. In ordering compensation for court-ordered attorneys, a court should abide by the s. 977.08 (4m) rate when it can retain qualified and effective counsel at that rate, but should order compensation at the rate under SCR 81.01 or 81.02, or a higher rate, when necessary to secure effective counsel. Friedrich v. Dane County Circuit Court, 192 Wis. 2d 1, 531 N.W.2d 32 (1995).

Required Probability of Paternity for Wisconsin Courts: 99%
Required Paternity Index: None

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