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What are a Grandparent’s Visitation Rights in Wisconsin?

As a grandparent, you are very likely proud of your children and grandchildren. You may enjoy spending time with your grandkids and love having them visit; but what happens when the parents go through a difficult divorce? You may begin to have problems visiting with your grandchildren, which can be devastating. It is helpful to know that in Wisconsin, grandparents do have the ability to request legal visitation with their grandchildren.

Grandparent Visitation Rights

Wisconsin law allows for grandparents to request visitation under some circumstances. In order to petition the court for visitation, grandparents must meet the requirements. First, the paternity of the child must have been determined. This may be by way of birth certificate or through a paternity action. The child may not have been adopted.

Importantly, the grandparent must have maintained a relationship with the child or attempted to do so. Also, the grandparent must be likely to act in a manner that is not contrary to the decisions made by the parent with legal custody. Finally, visitation must be in the best interest of the child.

If you meet these criteria, you are able to file a petition with the court to request visitation rights. This is best accomplished with help from an experienced family law attorney who will guide you through the process. A hearing date will be set, at which time you will present your case to the family law judge who will make a decision. If granted, the court will order visitation in much the same way as visitation with a non-custodial parent.

What About When the Grandchild’s Parents are Together?

Sometimes grandparents have disagreements with their children that result in the grandparents being forbidden to visit their grandchildren. Since the child’s parents are together, the court typically prefers to allow them to make decisions about whom should see their children and when.

In general, the courts are unlikely to require visitation with the grandparents. There have been some rare cases, however, in which the court has allowed visitation in these instances. In these cases, the grandparents (or other third-party seeking visitation) must have maintained a parent-like relationship with the child and there must be an event that triggered the disruption of the child’s regular placement. In addition, the court must find that visitation would be in the best interest of the child.

These situations can be heartbreaking and traumatic for everyone concerned. It is often best to try to resolve the situation without court intervention. This may be accomplished through counseling or mediation. Unfortunately, there may be no other course of action than to seek legal help to gain visitation rights to your grandchildren.

Cases such as these can be extremely complicated and emotionally charged. It is helpful to seek legal counsel from an experienced and compassionate Wisconsin family law attorney. You can get the guidance and support of a skilled family law attorney by contacting our office at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today to schedule a consultation.

Published December 27, 2018
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