Learn about grandparent visitation rights from award-winning Wisconsin family law attorneys
In Wisconsin, grandparents have the right to ask the court for permission to spend time with or obtain physical custody of their grandchildren; however, parents have the right to deny grandparent visitation without an official visitation order in effect. Learn the details of grandparents’ visitation rights in Wisconsin below.
Questions answered in this article:
What are reasonable visitation rights? | Can a parent deny a grandparent visitation with a grandchild? | Can grandparents sue for visitation?
Parents have a constitutional right to raise their children free from government interference. However, that right only exists for “intact families”—once an action threatening the integrity of the family arises (divorce, birth out of wedlock, death of a parent), the government can step in to ensure the children’s best interests are protected. This can include the children’s right to an ongoing and meaningful relationship with grandparents.
In the context of grandparent visitation, the term “visitation” means to take a child away from his or her usual abode and to host them as a guest. This term is similar—but not the same—as parental visitation.
Grandparents cannot petition for “custody” which is the right to make major parenting decisions for the child. Custody is vested solely in the parents and any grandparent that is granted visitation must make decisions that are consistent with the parents’ custodial decisions. Failure to do so, can negatively impact their visitation rights.
If you are ready to seek more information on a grandparent visitation order, schedule a confidential consultation with us or complete the form below.
Spending quality time with your grandchild is one of the most fulfilling things you'll do. Let our lawyers help protect those precious moments by preparing visitation times and cadence.
In order to reach an agreement your grandchild's custodial parent, we'll file a petition so it can be reviewed by the local family court.
There are two avenues through which grandparents can pursue visitation rights with their grandchildren—and two (big) roadblocks that will prevent them pursuing visitation.
First, grandparents can pursue visitation in the following circumstances:
*If the grandparent is seeking visitation of a non-marital child and is a parent of the child’s father, paternity must be established before the grandparent can seek visitation.
Grandparents can NOT pursue visitation in the following circumstances:
In both of these instances, there is no recourse for obtaining court-ordered grandparent visitation. Grandparents are entirely beholden to the parents’ decisions. Married parents (and those who were formerly married but are since divorced) have the right to restrict or limit their children’s relationship with grandparents.
Short Answer: Whatever the court deems is reasonable.
Reasonable grandparent visitation rights are whatever the court determines is reasonable under the circumstances. The court has a lot of latitude to craft an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children.
A fit parent will always have superior rights over any grandparent.
Exceptions to this general rule would be:
Short Answer: Yes—unless there is a grandparent visitation order in effect.
There is a presumption that a fit parent makes decisions in his or her children’s best interests. Therefore, if a parent chooses to limit or restrict a child’s relationship with a grandparent, the courts must assume that this is what is best for the child.
If a grandparent disagrees, he or she can Petition for grandparent visitation. However, the grandparent must prove not only that the proposed grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests but must prove first and foremost that the parent’s decision to restrict the child’s relationship with the grandparent is harmful to the child.
However, once a grandparent visitation order is in effect, the parent must abide by it. If he or she withholds the child from the grandparent, the parent can be held in “contempt” for violating the court order and can be fined, sanctioned, or even imprisoned.
Short Answer: Yes.
A grandparent who wishes to establish a court-ordered visitation schedule can file a Petition in the civil court of the county where the children reside.
If you’re not receiving the time you feel you deserve as a grandparent, schedule a 100% confidential consultation with one of our visitation attorneys at Karp & Iancu today.
We bring ease to the process of gaining precious time with your grandchildren. We're also known for winning cases across the state in other areas of family law and divorce:
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