Families can grow apart for various reasons and sometimes grandparents become estranged from their grandchildren. Reasons may include issues such as divorce, the death of a parent, drug or alcohol abuse, imprisonment, or a break down in the relationship between the parents and grandparents in general.
Grandparents may wish to seek visitation rights with their grandchildren and, in some cases, they may be permitted to petition the court. However, in Wisconsin, courts strongly protect the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit without outside interference, so a lot depends on the circumstances.
Grandparents who wish to petition for visitation rights may do so only if there is an action affecting the family such as divorce, separation, or perhaps in cases where the parents may be unfit or incompetent. If no action is pending, grandparents are typically not allowed to petition the court.
Grandparent Visitation in Cases of Divorce
If the parents divorce, the courts prefer to see grandparents and children continue an existing relationship of course. However, if both parents refuse to allow grandparent visitation, the court will be hesitant to interfere. If proposed grandparent visitation cuts into the limited time the child could otherwise spend with a parent, time with parents may take priority.
What If My Grandchild’s Parents Were Not Married?
Nowadays, young couples with children may not be married. In paternity cases, the courts are more likely to grant grandparent visitation in cases where the custodial parent is preventing contact if grandparents have maintained a relationship with the child or attempted to.
It is important to bear in mind that if grandparents are seeking visitation, interference with the custodial parents decisions will be frowned upon. In other words, your rights are limited to having a relationship with the child, not calling the shots or otherwise undermining the relationship between the parent and child.
The Best Interests of the Child in Grandparent Visitation Determinations
If you have grounds to petition the court for visitation with your grandchild, generally speaking the court will look at many factors to consider what is in the best interests of the child (see Wis. Stat. § 767.43 )
The wishes of the parent(s)
The needs of the child, including considerations of physical and emotional health of the child, the safety of the child, and the welfare of the child
The capability of the parents and/or grandparents to meet the needs of the child
The wishes of the child, if the child is capable of making decisions for himself or herself
The strength of the relationship between the grandparent(s) and grandchild
The length of the relationship between the grandparent(s) and grandchild
Evidence of abuse or neglect by the parent(s) or grandparent(s)
Evidence of substance abuse by the parent(s) or grandparent(s)
The child’s adjustment to the home, school, or community
The ability of the parent(s) or grandparent(s) to provide love, affection, and contact with the child
The distance between the child and the parent(s) or grandparent(s)
Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Grandparent Visitation Rights Lawyer
Put Decades of Experience with Wisconsin Child Custody and Visitation Matters on Your Side!
If you have questions about Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights or child custody issues and would like to meet with an experienced Wisconsin Family Law attorney, contact our Waukesha and Milwaukee metro family law offices for more information. We understand that grandparents have an important role to play in their grandchildren’s lives and we will make every effort to help you maintain that relationship. Contact the Wisconsin grandparent visitation rights attorneys at Probst Law Offices S.C. for help today at 414-210-3135.