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Does Guardianship Override Parental Rights in Wisconsin?

Most children are raised by their parents, but there are a number of children who are raised by others. It is estimated that about one in 11 kids are raised by someone other than a parent at some point before they are 18 years of age. Most of these children are raised by relatives, such as aunts, uncles, or grandparents. There is a legal process in place to establish legal guardianship of a child in Wisconsin. A person may petition the court to gain guardianship over a child. An experienced guardianship attorney will help with the process of seeking guardianship over a minor in Wisconsin.

What is Minor Guardianship?

Minor guardianship occurs when a person other than a child’s biological parent legally takes over the parenting responsibilities of a minor. A guardian is legally responsible for the daily care of a child and for making decisions on their behalf. The guardian is appointed by the court and is often a relative of the child. The guardian takes over all aspects of overseeing a child and has the same responsibilities as a parent.

When Does Guardianship End?

How long guardianship lasts depends on the type of guardianship that is in place:

  • Emergency guardianship generally lasts for 60 days. At that time, the court will determine the next steps based on what is in the best interest of the child.
  • Full guardianship ends when the child reaches the age of 18. In a situation where the appointed guardian dies before the child turns 18, the court will appoint a new guardian.
  • A guardian ad-litem is a guardian for the purposes of representing the legal interests of a child and is in place temporarily for the duration of a particular legal matter.

What are a Guardian’s Rights?

The reason for a guardian appointment is an important factor in determining the details of the guardianship. In some cases, parents give up their parental rights, and they are no longer legally responsible for their child. In some instances, a guardian is appointed because a parent is unable to provide adequate parenting to a child. For instance, if a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol or is incarcerated, they are unable to care for their child. In these cases, a guardian is appointed. The guardian has the same rights as a biological parent would have.

Do Parents Still Have Rights?

Parents have inherent rights. However, when a court appoints a guardian, the guardian takes over as the parent. Generally, the parent’s rights are suspended but not terminated while the child is under the temporary care of an appointed guardian. When the parent has not terminated their rights, they still hold their parental rights and have the ability to make some decisions for their child. In that case, the parent has the right to make decisions for any rights that are not given to the guardian. The parent still has the ability to make decisions that are not granted to the guardian.

Guardianship over a minor may be necessary when a parent is unable to care for their child. The court will establish a guardian to provide care and make important decisions on behalf of the child. To learn more about guardianship of a minor in Wisconsin, contact us at (608) 784-8310 or online today.

Published February 12, 2024
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