What are my Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights?

What are my Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights?

Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights are available in some circumstances.  The grandparents must show that that had, or were denied, a relationship with their  grandchild.  Parents have a strong right to parent their children as they wish. Therefore, the grandparents must demonstrate that maintaining the relationship with the grandchild is sufficiently important to outweigh the parents’ rights.  The Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights law itself is somewhat complicated, and the additional rules regarding parental rights come from court decisions not included in the statutes.  The grandparents first must address the legal argument over the parents’ rights, so it is necessary to obtain a family lawyer to ensure the petition is properly filed and argued.

In a recent case, In re the Paternity of E.M.B. (available at http://www.wisbar.org/res/capp/2011/2009ap000488.htm), the Court of Appeals clarified the standards for Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights.   In cases of intact or divorced families, the grandparents must show a “triggering event” granting the state the ability to become involved in the family’s life.   However, according to Paternity of E.B., differing standards apply to paternal grandparents when the parents of the child were not married.   The “triggering event” step is unnecessary in these circumstances, removing a potential obstacle to grandparents seeking to establish or maintain a relationship with their grandchild.  This is a highly important distinction, and the family’s attorney must be aware of it in a Wisconsin grandparent visitation case.

Wisconsin grandparent visitation law is less clear about the potential length of visitation rights.  There is no minimum or maximum time limit.  Although visitation is generally brief (once per month, perhaps), the law does not prevent grandparents from longer visitation with grandchildren.  In Paternity of E.B., for example, the Wisconsin grandparents’ visitation reached 35% of the total available time.

I have handled several Wisconsin grandparent visitation cases, and I have a clear understanding of the laws and necessary arguments for success.  I encourage you to contact me for a free consultation.

Published by David Kowalski

Attorney David Kowalski is the founding owner of Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC, handling all family law cases from divorce, paternity, child custody, termination of parental rights, restraining orders, and guardianships.

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