Client Rights: Minors

Learn about rights of the person receiving services as they pertain to minors. This information applies to those under 18 who are receiving treatment for a developmental disability, mental health illness, or substance use in Wisconsin.

Rights of minors

Rights pamphlets for minors

Mental health review officer process

Juvenile courts must name a mental health review officer to oversee outpatient treatment of children 14 years or older. This includes social services (except 24-hour care), treatment, and custody. (Wis. Stat. § 51.14)

Filing a petition for review by a mental health review officer

A child who is 14 years or older, or someone on their behalf, can petition for a mental health review. They must file the petition with the review officer in the county where their parent or guardian lives. The review officer will look into the parent’s or guardian’s refusal to consent to treatment for the child. The facility director must petition for review when a child refuses treatment but their parent or guardian consents.

The petition must include professional assessments and include:

  • Available information that shows the treatment is appropriate and as least restrictive as possible.
  • The name, address, and birthdate of the child.
  • The name and address of the child’s parent or guardian.
  • The reasons for believing the child needs—or doesn’t need—treatment.

This is not legal advice.

Find the mental health review officer for your county 

The court must make sure “necessary assistance” is provided to the person filing the petition. The mental health review officer must inform the county. The county may make recommendations. If the child would like to petition for a court review and skip a review by a mental health review officer, it’s allowed if the review officer agrees it’s best for the child.

Mental health review officer hearing outcomes

Within 21 days, the mental health review officer must hold a hearing. They must give 96 hours’ notice that the hearing will be held.

Following the hearing, the mental health review officer can “overrule” the consent requirements of state law if they find:

  • The child needs treatment.
  • The child, or the parent or guardian, is refusing consent without reason.
  • The treatment is appropriate and as least restrictive as possible.
  • The treatment is in the child’s best interest.

The mental health review officer must:

  • Put these findings in writing.
  • Tell the child and parent or guardian they have the right to judicial review.

This is not legal advice.

Judicial review

The child, or someone on their behalf, may file a judicial review petition within 21 days of the ruling. The petition must be filed in the county where the parent or guardian lives. It must contain the same things required for the review by the mental health review officer. If the child refused consent, it must be noted on the petition’s front page. The child may be entitled to a lawyer. If the child has refused consent or if the parent has refused consent and the child is unrepresented, the court must appoint a lawyer for the child at least seven days before the hearing.

The hearing must be held within 21 days of the petition’s filing. The child, their parent or guardian, lawyer, and anyone interested, must be informed of the hearing by mail at least four days in advance.

Evidence must be clear, fair, and convincing. A record must be kept of the findings.

Judicial review outcomes

The court can “overrule” the consent requirements of state law if it finds:

  • The child needs treatment.
  • The child, or the parent or guardian, is refusing consent without reason.
  • The treatment is appropriate and as least restrictive as possible.
  • The treatment is in the child’s best interest. A finding by judicial review doesn’t mean a mental illness is present.

Appeals

The child or their parent or guardian or anyone directly affected by the court’s determination can appeal the decision to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

Last Revised: April 4, 2022