Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status.
Wisconsin law does not allow information about adoptions, birth parents, or individuals to be released without a court order. To get a court order you must complete a search request through the State Adoption Records Search Program. This program is part of the Wisconsin Department of Children & Families. They can be reached by writing or by phone:
Adoption Records Search Program
PO Box 8916
Madison WI 53703-8916
More Information on Adopting or Adoptions at https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/adoption.
Contact the Register in Probate for the Adult Adoption Guidelines & Form Numbers
Adoption Search Program: Adoption Search Program
A conservatorship is a voluntary court action taken by a person who wants assistance with their assets from another person (i.e. bill paying, investing, etc.). However, unlike a person acting under a Power of Attorney, a conservator is required by state statute to file an accounting with the court annually.
By Wisconsin Statute 814.61(11), the fee for a court record search is $5.00. To request a search, please send a written request along with the $5.00 fee to the Clerk of Courts, 333 Vine St., La Crosse, WI 54601 or you can e-mail [email protected]. To provide the search, we will need first name, middle initial, last name, and date of birth. Please include in your search request what records you would like searched.
If you would like to do the search yourself, the Clerk of Courts office has public access computers for your convenience. The computers are located in a room just off of the Clerk of Courts office.
If you would like a copy of a document, according to Wisconsin Statute 8.14.61(1)(a) the cost would be $1.25 a page.
We would like to remind you that not all records are PUBLIC records.
If you have any questions, please contact the Clerk of Courts office at 608-785-9590.
To access public records via the Internet, use the CCAP internet access website:
http://wicourts.gov/. La Crosse County started using the CCAP system in 1993. Court cases before that time would have to be looked up at the courthouse as they are in paper form or scanned to the county’s network.
Criminal Court is concerned with actions that are dangerous or harmful to society as a whole. Because of this, prosecution is pursued not by an individual but rather by the state represented by the District Attorney’s Office. Criminal Court, in general, handles violations of State Law, including both Felony and Misdemeanor charges. Traffic Court handles criminal traffic charges, County Ordinance violations, State Patrol citations, and Department of Nature Resource citations.
Felony charges are offenses of a more serious nature, such as murder or burglary, and are generally punishable with a fine and time in the Wisconsin State Prison System with Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
Misdemeanor charges are offenses defined as less serious than felony charges and are generally punishable with a fine and/or time in the County Jail. Criminal Traffic violations are misdemeanor offenses typically involving a motor vehicle.
Here is the link to search cases https://www.wicourts.gov/casesearch.htm
Link to our: Intake Schedule
Before the divorce can be started, you or your spouse must have lived in the State of Wisconsin for at least six (6) months, and also must have lived in La Crosse County for at least thirty (30) days. Once this requirement is met, then the action may begin. Below is a link for a family law forms assistant with directions. You may also purchase a complete packet of forms at the Clerk of Courts office for $20. Please contact the La Crosse County Clerk of Courts for the cost to file the action.
Guardianship of Incompetent Person is used when a person over the age of 18 has a developmental disability or a doctor will complete an evaluation stating that the person is incompetent. It may be necessary to hire an attorney to assist you with this procedure. A Guardian ad Litem MUST be hired to represent the proposed Ward.
Protective Placement may be required by statute with an adult guardianship. Protective Placement is a court order authorizing the Ward’s placement in certain facilities for the primary purpose of providing care and custody. Please refer to Wis. Stat. 55.
Please contact the Register in Probate to request guidelines @ [email protected]
Aging & Disability Resource Center: https://lacrossecounty.org/adrc/adult.asp
Guardianship Support Center: https://gwaar.org/guardianship-resources
MINOR (UNDER 18) GUARDIANSHIP LINKS:
Please contact the Register in Probate to request guidelines @ [email protected]
Involuntary commitment or civil commitment is a legal process through which an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness is court-ordered into treatment in a hospital (inpatient) or in the community (outpatient). Commitment proceedings often follow a period of emergency hospitalization during which an individual with acute psychiatric symptoms is confined for a relatively short duration in a treatment facility for evaluation and stabilization by mental health professionals — who may then determine whether further civil commitment is appropriate or necessary. If civil commitment proceedings follow, the evaluation is presented in a formal court hearing where testimony and other evidence may also be submitted.
Under Wisconsin Statutes there are three types of civil commitments: mental, alcohol, and drug. Civil commitment cases are prosecuted by the La Crosse County Corporation Counsel. A person who is involuntarily hospitalized will be appointed an attorney through the Public Defender’s Office. A third-party petition may also be filed with the court and is coordinated through the Corporation Counsel’s Office.
Adult Protective Services Intake: (608) 785-5700
Aging & Disability Resource Center: https://lacrossecounty.org/adrc/adult.asp
Any eligible resident of Wisconsin, whether a minor or an adult, may petition the court in the county where he or she resides, to have his or her name changed.
If you hold a professional license (other than a license to teach in the public schools) and your name change is for a reason other than marriage or divorce, you may need the approval of your licensing board or commission to change your name to a name other than the name on your license. Contact the appropriate board to learn its requirements.
A person required to register as a sex offender under Chapter 301.45, Wis. Stats. (Class H felony) may not change his or her name. Sec. 301.47(2)(a), WI Stats. Please note that juvenile sex offenders may be subject to Chapter 301.45.
Name Change forms can be picked up at the Clerk of Courts on the 1st Floor of the Courthouse or at the link below.
Probate is the term for a legal process in which a will is reviewed to determine whether it is valid and authentic. Probate also refers to the general administering of a deceased person's will or the estate of a deceased person without a will.
Small Estate Transfer Affidavit (Used to transfer property of decedents with estates valued at $50,000 or less)
Where do I get a small estate affidavit? The probate office does not provide this form. It can be located online here.
A restraining order is a temporary Civil Court order that orders someone not to hurt you, to stay away from you, move out of the house, have no contact with you, or stop harassing you. An injunction is a final Civil Court order of protection that can be granted for up to 2 years for child abuse injunctions, and up to 4 years for domestic abuse, harassment, and individuals at risk injunctions. Restraining orders are different from bail or bond conditions, probation rules, or a 72-hour no contact condition of an arrest order.
Once the paperwork is completed, you should bring to the Clerk of Courts to start the process. The Family Court Commissioner and Judges hear requests for restraining orders. The court in which a restraining order is filed depends on whether the victim or person requesting (petitioner) is a minor or an adult and also whether the alleged abuser (respondent) is a minor or an adult. There are four types of Restraining Orders:
Domestic abuse is defined in the law as an intentional infliction of or threat to inflict physical pain, physical injury or illness; impairment of physical condition; or sexual contact or sexual intercourse without consent. There must be facts showing an imminent danger of physical harm before a temporary restraining order can be issued. There is no filing fee for this type of restraining order.
The abuse must have been committed by:
Harassment is defined in the law as striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting another person to physical contact; engaging in an act that would constitute child abuse under Sec. 48.02(1), sexual intercourse or sexual contact under Sec. 940.225 or stalking under Sec. 940.32; or attempts or threatens to do the same. Also, engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which harass or intimidate the person and which serve no legitimate purpose. There is a filing fee for filing this type of restraining order.
Individual At Risk (Vulnerable Adult)
Requested generally on behalf of “individuals at risk”, which includes any adult who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability to care for his or her needs and who has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation. People who may seek the temporary restraining order (TRO) include the adult at risk, social service workers, law enforcement personnel, parents, adult siblings, adult children, legal guardians of adults at risk, or county protective service agencies. There is a filing fee for these actions.
Child abuse is defined as any of the following physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means; sexual intercourse or sexual contact; Sexual exploitation of the child; permitting, allowing or encouraging the child to violate the prostitution
laws; forcing the child to view sexual activity; exposing genitals or pubic area to the child; Causing the child to expose genitals or pubic area; manufacturing methamphetamine with a child physically present or in a child’s home or in a motor
vehicle on the premises of a child’s home or under any other circumstances that the manufacture would be seen, smelled or be heard by a child; or, emotional damage to the child. There is no filing fee for this action.
A Restraining Order may be filed by:
Small claims court is a special court where disputes are resolved more quickly and inexpensively than in other court proceedings. The rules in small claims court also are simpler and less formal. The person who sues is called the plaintiff. The person who is sued is called the defendant. The Wisconsin Court System has developed an interactive website to help complete small claims forms. The self-help small claims Web site, https://www.wicourts.gov/ecourts/prose.htm is designed to guide you through the process of filing a small claims legal claim. By answering a number of questions, this website will help choose and complete the forms you need to file a small claims case.
To understand more about small claims matters we recommend you read the instructions. The Guide covers a large number of Frequently Asked Questions.
A small claims action may be filed if the claim does not exceed $10,000. All eviction cases, regardless of the amount of damages claimed, are filed in small claims court. You are responsible for presenting your own case. It is not necessary to be represented by an attorney. The Clerk of Circuit Courts, court commissioners and other personnel are not authorized to provide legal advice. This brochure is intended to provide only a summary of basic procedures and information. Small Claims procedures are contained in Chapter 799 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The number for Small Claims is (608) 785-9705.
For most claims, the proper county to file your lawsuit is: 1. Where the claim arose; 2. Where the defendant resides. It is your responsibility to review the facts of your case and to decide where to file your action.
Small claims summons and complaint forms and garnishment packets may be obtained from the Clerk of Circuit Courts office, Room 1200, Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center, 333 Vine St., La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601-3296. The original summons and complaint must be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Courts office, Room 1200.
Setting a Hearing Date
All Small Claims actions are scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Fridays in Intake Court. Make sure that you allow adequate time to accomplish timely service when choosing your court date. Remember that Saturdays, Sundays and holidays are not included in computing the number of days required for proper service. In eviction actions, the court date cannot be more than 30 days from the date you "issue " the summons. You "issue" the summons when you sign and date it. The defendant must be served at least 5 days prior to the return date (first court date). For all other Small Claims cases, the court date cannot be more than 30 days from the "issue " date. The defendant must be served at least 8 days prior to the return date.
Service of Summons
Summons and complaints can be mailed to the defendant if they live in the county and if the case is not for an eviction. All evictions must be served by the Sheriff Department or a process server. Other summons and complaint cases may also be served by the Sheriff Department or a process server. There is a fee for the Sheriff Department service. A copy of the summons and complaint should be personally served on the defendant or a competent member of the defendant's household. If, with reasonable diligence, the defendant cannot be personally served, the plaintiff may appear on the court date and ask for an adjournment to allow for service by publication. Publication is accomplished by placing notice in the legal section of a local newspaper for one week and mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant's last known address. Proof of service must be filed with the Clerk's office.
Due to the ongoing Covid occurrence, there are no in person appearances at the Courthouse.
The Plaintiffs appearance is the filed Summons & Complaint paperwork.
The Defendant must file an answer by 9:30 am on the return date. If the defendant fails to file an answer, then default judgment is given to the plaintiff. If an answer is filed, depending on the answer given, mediation will be scheduled by
the Court mediator. If no agreement is reached in Mediation, then a Court Trial will be scheduled.
If a judgment is rendered by a judge after the final hearing or trial, it will be entered on the court record by clerk of circuit court staff and a Notice of Entry of Judgment will be mailed to each party at their last known address. This notice will state the amount of the judgment, including statutory costs.
State law directs the Clerk of Circuit Court to compute costs and insert them in the judgment in favor of the successful party as follows: filing fee, service fees, statutory attorney fees, witness fees, jury fees and any other costs which may be allowed by the court.
Selected Fee Schedule (Effective October 30, 2007)
Disclosure of Assets
State law provides that a person obtaining a judgment for money is entitled to receive information regarding the financial status of the unsuccessful party within 15 working days after entry of judgment. Forms called Order for Financial Disclosure are available in Room 1200. Failure of the judgment debtor (unsuccessful party) to provide this information in writing to the judgment creditor is punishable by court imposed sanctions. The judgment creditor may compel the judgment debtor to appear in court and disclose this information by filing a Petition and Order for Hearing. This form is also available in Room 1200 of the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Bldg, 333 Vine St., La Crosse, WI. If judgment debtor fails to appear at this hearing, the court may issue an Order for Commitment.
A court judgment in your favor does not automatically result in the payment of money. You must first initiate collection of a judgment. Further court procedures are necessary. The primary method available to small claims litigants for enforcing the payment of judgment are (A) Garnishment and (B) Writs of Execution. (A) Garnishment is a method of collection that allows the judgment creditor to obtain monies owed by others to the judgment debtor, usually by attaching the judgment debtor's earnings or bank accounts (See 815 Wis. Stats.) (B) A judgment creditor may ask the court for a Writ of Execution directing the sheriff to seize specific, non-exempt personal property belonging to the judgment debtor for purposes of satisfying a judgment. You may want to obtain professional advise to decide a Writ of Execution is appropriate for your case (see 815 Wis. Stats.)
Docketing the Judgment
Once a judgment has been obtained, the judgment creditor may "docket" it by taking the case file to Room 1200 and paying a fee. When a judgment is docketed, the effect is to place a lien on any real estate owned by the judgment debtor in La Crosse County for 10 years. However, it is not required that a judgment be docketed to attempt collection from judgment debtor.
The small claims court may reopen a default judgment. To reopen the judgment a Notice of Motion and Motion to Reopen is prepared and submitted to the assigned court. This form is available in Room 1200 of the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center, 333 Vine St., La Crosse, WI. A date and time of the hearing is obtained from the clerk of the assigned court. A copy of notice of motion must be served on the opposing party before the motion date. The judge will determine whether the judgment will be set aside and a hearing held on the merits of the case.
Due to the ongoing Covid occurrence, there are no in person appearances at the La Crosse County Courthouse. Please contact the traffic clerk at (608) 785-9706 if you have any questions on appearing in traffic court.
Receiving a traffic citation usually is a stressful event for most of us. Many times, questions occur after you have had time to reflect back at your individual situation. This brochure is designed to answer questions you may have concerning the citation you have been issued.
What will happen if I appear in court on the date on my citation? The date indicated on your citation is the date of your initial appearance. An initial appearance is your opportunity to enter a plea to the charge. You may plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. The initial appearance is not the trial date. If you plead guilty or no contest, the court will find you guilty and the matter will be resolved at the initial appearance. Be prepared to pay the ticket at that time. There is no guarantee that your ticket will be reduced. Your ticket may already be written for the minimum forfeiture and points. If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a pretrial conference at a later date.
Must I appear in court on the date set forth on my citation? You may avoid appearing in court by sending the amount indicated on the citation prior to your court date. If money is posted and you do not appear in court, you will be found guilty and the amount posted will be forfeited.
If you wish to pay your citation, you may do so at the Clerk of Courts Office in the Law Enforcement Center, Room 1200 or call 888-604-7888 or you may Pay On-Line. La Crosse County's pay code is 1410 and you will need this number to pay your citation on-line.
If you wish to plead not guilty, you may do this by mail without appearing in court on the date set forth on your citation. Mail the plea to the Clerk of Circuit Court, 333 Vine St., Room 1200, La Crosse, WI 54601-3296. Include the charge, the date you were scheduled to appear, the name of the police agency that issued the ticket, the ticket number, your current mailing address and telephone number. This MUST be received by the date indicated on the citation. A court date for a pretrial conference will be mailed to you. You WILL have to appear at the pretrial conference. A pretrial conference is a meeting with the attorney representing the agency issuing the citation. The pretrial conference gives you the opportunity to discuss your position with them and their position with you to see if the matter can be resolved short of a court trial.
If you do not post bail money and you also fail to appear in court, a judgment will be entered against you for the amount of the ticket. From the date of judgment, you will be allowed 30 days to pay. Failure to pay within 30 days will result in either a warrant for your arrest or suspension of your license for up to 5 years.
I wish to plead not guilty, how do I do that and what will happen in court? You may plead not guilty either by appearing in court on the date indicated on your citation, or by entering a not guilty plea in writing prior to the court date. Mail the written plea of not guilty to Clerk of Circuit Court, 333 Vine St., Room 1200, La Crosse, WI 54601-3296. Include the charge, the date you were scheduled to appear, the name of the police agency that issued the ticket, the ticket number, your current mailing address and telephone number. This MUST be received by the date indicated on your citation.
After you plead not guilty, the case will be scheduled for a pretrial conference. You MUST attend the pretrial conference. After the pretrial conference, the case will be scheduled for the final conference or trial. You have the right to a jury trial. If you want to preserve your right to a jury trial, you must make a written demand for a jury trial and post jury fees within 10 days following the date of your initial appearance.
I'm worried about the points to be assessed against my driving record. How do I know if I'm in point trouble? If you are found guilty of a traffic violation, your driving record may be charged with demerit points. The court will not determine the number of points assessed against your record. The court will merely report the conviction to the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Division will assess the number of points against your record, depending upon the charge. The following point schedule lists common traffic violations. Other violations, not listed, may also carry points. If you accumulate 12 points against your driving record within a one-year period by date of violations, your license will be suspended or revoked. Wisconsin Department of Transportation
QuestionsAny questions you wish answered prior to your appearance in court, other than routine time schedule questions, etc., should be addressed to your attorney. Court and Clerk's office personnel are prohibited by law and the order of the court from giving legal advice.
Your Final Decision
Regardless of how you intend to plead or the final disposition of your case, resolve now to become a better driver. Your life and entire future could well depend on this decision.