Grandparent Rights when the Parents are Married to Each Other
In Wisconsin, if the parents are married to each other, grandparents do not have any independent right to see their grandchildren if the parents wish to deny visitation, absent very limited and extenuating circumstances. Courts presume that parents know (and act in) the best interests of their children, and therefore will almost never over-rule the wishes of the married parents.
Grandparent Rights when Parents are Not Married, or they are Legally Separated or Divorcing
When parents are either not married, or they are legally separated and/or are going through a divorce, or if the paternity of the grandchild(ren) has not been determined, the rights of grandparents are somewhat improved. During these circumstances, Wisconsin statutes allow grandparents (and others who may have maintained a relationship similar to a parent-child relationship with the child) to petition the court for reasonable visitation rights.
Following the filing of the petition, the court will hold a somewhat informal pre-trial hearing, at which time grandparent visitation may be granted. If any party objects to the court’s determination, a trial may be held to adjudicate the pre-trial determination.
It’s important to note that even if visitation is granted, grandparents should never undertake any action that would undermine the placement of the custodial parent, as any such action could be used to deny or terminate grandparent rights.
How We Help
If you are seeking visitation with your grandchildren, please call our firm to learn how we may be able to help. Once we know about the specific facts and circumstances of your case, we can advise you as to how Wisconsin law will likely apply to your situation.