Grandparent Visitation in Wisconsin

Are you a grandparent who hasn’t been able to see your grandchildren for some reason? Do you have any “rights” to seek visitation from the court?

In Wisconsin, the courts strongly protect the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, without outside interference. The statutes do permit grandparents, or those who have had a “parent-like” relationship with the child, to petition the court for visitation. This is only true, however, if there is an action affecting the family (divorce, legal separation, paternity) pending.

If there is no action pending and the parents are still married, grandparents are not allowed to petition the court for visitation. Unless the parents are unfit or incompetent, there is no recourse for grandparents who want to see their grandchildren. In those instances, your best course of action as a grandparent is to repair or attempt to repair the circumstances which led to the breakdown in your relationship with your child or grandchild in the first place.

This protection of parental rights carries through to an action for divorce or legal separation where the standard for grandparent visitation is a bit different than a situation where the parents where never married. The statute simply states that visitation can be granted if it is in the best interests of the child. However, there is no definition or qualifying standards to determine what that means. This gives the court very broad discretion in those instances. The US Supreme Court has ruled, however, that courts must apply a presumption that a fit parent’s decision regarding non-parental visitation is in the best interest of the child. The Wisconsin courts have upheld this presumption. What that means is that if both parents (married or formerly married) have refused to allow grandparent visitation, it is going to be difficult to ask the court to interfere with that decision.

In a divorce, the courts usually find that grandparents should see the children during their own child’s placement time. Parents have little enough time with their children when their time is already divided between two people. The courts are going to be very reluctant to divide the time three ways. If the relationship between the parent and the grandparent is broken down to the point where the parent will not allow the grandparents to see the child on his or her own time, the court is going to be reluctant to interfere with that decision based on the above presumption.

However, if a parent is not seeing the child(ren) for some reason, which does not afford the grandparents the opportunity to see their grandchildren, then the court is likely to order some visitation to preserve the child’s relationship with their grandparents.

In a paternity case (where the parents were never married), the courts are much more likely to grant a grandparent visitation. The statute sets forth a different standard. Best interests apply but the statute also allows visitation more broadly in situations where grandparents have had a relationship in the past or have attempted to maintain a relationship in the past but now are prevented from doing so by the parent with legal custody. The court must find, however, the grandparents will not interfere with the custodial decisions of the parent. In the case of the benevolent grandparents who only want to see their grandchildren, this virtually guarantees some kind of visitation.

The difficulty comes in when you have interfering grandparents or grandparents who have attempted to control or take over parental decisions. In those instances, the court may be reluctant to give grandparents the opportunity to interfere or damage the parental relationship with the child which it protects above all else.

If you are a grandparent seeking visitation with your grandchild or grandchildren, make sure that you do not attempt to interfere with the relationship between parent and child. Keep in mind that you do not have any “rights” over your grandchildren except to have a relationship with them. Your actions are going to be scrutinized by the court to determine whether visitation with you is in the best interest of the child(ren). If you cause problems or take actions which can be interpreted to be contrary to parental decisions, you very well may be giving the court just cause to deny visitation. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney to determine if you have a basis to petition the court for visitation and what actions you should take which would lead to the best chance of success in your case.

If you have any questions about grandparent visitation and would like to meet with one of our lawyers for a free initial office consultation, please call us at 414-258-1644. You can also visit our website for more information.

59 thoughts on “Grandparent Visitation in Wisconsin

  1. Well I don’t think the grandparent visitation rules are in the best description for the interest of the children. We had an order signed by the court commissioner to take classes for neglect, abuse, trauma, and therapeutic relations requested by a therapist then we could have supervised visits. Also it said discretion of the Department of social services. Also will not interfere with chips order. We had that order in September. Classes were done in October. Social services called me and said no visits allowed at this time. I asked her about the order signed. I was told it’s the discretion of the department. So here we are February 5th in front of court commissioner to grant visitation. Denied visits and no proof anything has changed since the first order approved. Social services said chips order and pending TPR of my daughter overrides grandparents rights. So after 600.00 for classes and the drive back and forth too court 21/2 hour’s away I sit not being able to explain to my granddaughter who is 8 why we can’t see her. I am in a loss and need some reasoning on all this. Thanks for your time

    • I cannot give you a specific answer as to why the order was or wasn’t entered because I don’t have all of the facts. I STRONGLY recommend you hire an attorney for the best results. It is very difficult to succeed in a grandparent visitation case without an attorney, much less with abuse allegations which exist in your case. Also, social services is correct that a CHIPS and TPR case does trump any other kind of case or orders. However, there are also situations where grandparents can obtain visitation rights, even in a TPR case. If you want any chance of success, you will most likely need to retain an attorney to assist you.

  2. My mother in law, with mental illness, has always been extremely mean to me and possessive of “her son” as she calls him. She mentally and verbally abused him and actually caused him to have a manic breakdown last year. She told my 5&6 year old that I am a bitch. We separated and she played him against me. When he came back to reality we choose to reconcile and cut her out after 10 years of struggling with our marriage because of her interference. She has never seen the kids much because we didn’t allow it and she was never allowed some with them. Now she said my husband is her money from when he was manic and she is saying we can earn money by letting her visit (blackmail?) Or she is taking us to court for grandparent rights. Help me, I can’t let her be some with my children.

    • Katie – No worries. The courts are very protective over parents rights to choose who their children should see or not. A grandparent cannot petition for visitation in a situation where there is an intact family (the marriage still exists). The law does not allow that. Even if you and your husband divorced, the courts would typically not allow such an action because there had been an intact family. Further, a grandparent can only petition for visitation if he or she had formerly had a “parent like relationship” with the child, such as when a child lives with him or her for a period of time. Therefore, in your case, any such petition by her would not even be allowed. Good luck.

  3. My daughter is almost 2 years old and my mother, who I have not had a relationship with for at least 3 or 4 years and have been on bad terms with for over 6 years- is taking me to court to see her grandchild. My mother is very emotionally abusive, manipulative, she’s a compulsive liar, has a criminal record/is always in trouble with the cops and I have reason to believe she is abusing prescription drugs. Her mental state is questionable and she’s overall a very bad person, which is why we don’t see her. She has even used my personal information to commit fraud. She didn’t try to come back into my life, after disowning me, until she found out I was pregnant. I was not married when I had my daughter but her father and I are now married. Its been a very long time since we have had a good relationship. Does she have any rights? Im assuming not with what I have read. Our family is intact and happy.

    • From your stated facts, it sounds as if she would not have any rights. She does not appear to have a “parent-like” relationship with your daughter and, even if she did, it appears that visitation would not be in your daughter’s best interests. However, I encourage you to consult with an experienced family law attorney for the best possible results in your situation.

  4. So in my brothers case, his daughters mom and him have never been married, and they share custody of the child. But the grandparent on the mothers side wants to file for visitation rights. Can she do that? His daughters mom agrees to the situation, but what my brother is afraid of is that it’ll take from his days to see his daughter. That is what his daughters mom wants to do, take part of his visitation days and give them to her mom. Is that possible?

    • Your brother should consult with an attorney immediately. Chances are, the court will not take away his time for her mother. However, without having all of the facts, I cannot say for certain. His best bet is to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss all of the facts and possible outcomes.

  5. I’m a grandma of a 3 year old I have only seen him 3 times anyway I’m thinking of getting a lawyer for my grandparents rights but I’m stuck right now his dad says I can take him anytime I want my daughter or the other hand seems to have excuses they are not married and no longer together and neither one has their own place they live with other people anyway my daughter is giving up custody of my grandson and I’m not to keen on him living with his dad because of his living arangements is it a good idea for me to step in and protect my grandson

    • Grandparent visitation can be very tricky. Therefore, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney who handles grandparent visitation cases in your area. He or she can go through the specifics of your situation and provide you with advice as to all of your options.

  6. We are great grandparents retired in Arizona. We spend 4 months in Wisconsin at our cabin during the summer. My grandson (lives in Wisconsin) says his father treated him badly as he was growing up and I was to blame as I didn’t raise my son right. My Grandson is a successful business man. My son is a successful business man and goes thru life minding his own business. He is not a bad person but probably was a little hard on his son as he was growing up. Now the grandson says we can not see our great grandchildren to punish us for what he perceives as our bad behavior. Do we have any legal rights?

    • There are certain requirements which must be met in order to have a cause of action for grandparent visitation. However, parents do have the right to make certain decisions over the lives of their children and this may be one of them. You should speak to an attorney in Wisconsin in the county in which your grandchildren reside to determine if you qualify. Good luck.

  7. My son passed away on Easter day, he was thirty three and was to be divorced nine days after this occurred. The night after his death the police found them going through his things, this has not been easy. She seems to like the power, her parents are over protective and her brother is a bully. I have never met a colder family
    Before this incident My son Donavan had 50/50 custody and came to see me often or I drove there. Kristy , his wife now since the divorce didn’t go through, will not let me see my grandson at all unless its supervised and at there home, which is a duplex shared by her, my grandson, her parents and her brother and his wife. The whole family together, but his aunt and uncle and myself, who have already lost so much now are not able to see our only grandson and nephew. Please advise me on this matter, my heart feels torn out! I love and miss my soon to be four year old grandson, who was actually born on Fathers day June 19th, three years ago. Its only fair that he knows my sons side of the family also?

    • I am very sorry for your loss. It sounds as if you definitely have cause to file an action for grandparent visitation. Consult with an experienced family law attorney in the county in which your grandson resides. Good luck to you.

  8. My son and the mother of my grandson never married. They only get along when my son is not dating. I do not even have the mother’s phone number. I am the only natural living grandparent.
    Her mother committed suicide and her father died of an overdose before she was born. What are my chances of getting visitation rights. My son has only has his son three times including Christmas 2014. She brought the child to my house to get his gifts and was only there for 2 hours.

    • This sounds more like an issue for your son. Is there a court order (a) finding him to be the father (adjudication) and (b) granting him custody and placement rights? If so and she is not following it, he needs to file a Petition to Enforce the placement orders. If there is not, then he needs to return to court to seek additional custody and placement. I would start with that before grandparent visitation, which can be difficult. In either case, you and your son should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to determine which route, if not even both, would be the best to go at this point. Good luck.

  9. My sister’s oldest son has 2 children with a young woman with whom he never married. Neither my sister ( the children’s grandmother) nor my nepher, their father, see the children at all, and haven’t for at least 4 years. The children are 6, almost 7..and 4.

    The children’s maternal grandparents live in Colorado, and have only seen the children twice in over 4 years.
    The children’s mother however has let me ( their Great Aunt) see them on a regular basis. I am the only one on their paternal side of the family who does see them, except for my father ( their Great Grandfather) because I bring them for visits with him. Over the years since the 4 year old was born I have stepped into the role of a pseudo Grandparent. The childrens mother also has a 2 year old who is not my nephews child, but I treat him the same as the other two and he calls me Aunti as well.

    The children and I have ‘special’ days, I attend school & daycare functions…I help with things such as clothes, diapers, babysitting, and I have bought bicycles…provided easter baskets etc. I have even had sleepover nights in their home on lots of occasions, and the oldest spends nights at my home.

    Recently the Mother has been making it more and more difficult for me to have time with the children, if she feels slighted in anyway, or doesn’t get her way,she withholds my visits . For example it was recently my youngest sons 20th birthday & she became angry with me for spending time with him rather than her. In retaliation she took away visitation we had planned for a week with the oldest child & even went as far as to threaten to take action if I tried to pick her up from school as planned.Stating that I was ” hurting” the child by my choice. I can no longer tolerate this behavior and her use of the children in this manner.

    My question is, would the Grandparent rights apply to me?
    I no longer want these precious little ones to be punished every time their mom is upset, by not being able to see ” Aunti” .Plus I miss them SO much during these times. I know they benefit from having family around consistently as well.

    Sorry to go on….and thank you for any information you can offer.

    • Hello- Wisconsin statutes allow anyone with a “parent-like relationship” with a child to request visitation. Your specific relationship with the child (grandparent v. non-grandparent) is irrelevant. It sounds as if you may qualify. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney in the county in which the child lives to determine your likelihood of success in that county. Certain judges are known to grant, or not grant, those types of requests. Good luck!

  10. My oldest daughter gets mad at me and keeps my 9 year old Granddaughter from me..she has 5 more children too, they also spent a lot of time at my house when they were all younger…she says I favor the youngest one and that I also talk bad about her to my Granddaughter…If I did do that why would my Granddaughter want to keep coming back to see me ? Back in 2012 my Daughter tried commiting suicide 2 times…her 9 year old lived with us for a year and a half, she says that I got her taken away…
    I haven’t seen my youngest Granddaughter of hers in 2 months now, but she has texted me & also called me from her Mother’s phone saying Grandma I love you & miss you…someone also told me that she told one of the teachers at school that her mommy won’t let her see her Grandma….now this is obviously hurting this little girl as much as it is hurting me…My heart is breaking because her heart is being broke…My Daughter says her children are number 1…How can they be if she’s hurting this little girl on purpose, by keeping her from her Grandma who she is obviously missing…..
    what do you think my chances are at Grandparent visitations ?
    Thank you

    • Grandparent visitation is very complicated in Wisconsin. First, was your daughter married to the father? This is the first test as to determining your success in court. Generally, if there was no marriage (paternity cases), the court is more likely to grant visitation. Second, the court will look at your relationship with the child(ren) and whether it was substantial. Third, the court looks at what is the child’s best interests. The best way to determine your chance of success would be to consult with an attorney who is experienced in family law. He/she can look at the specific facts of your case and give you advice as to your chances for success on a grandparent visitation motion.

      • Hi…Yes she was married to my Granddaughters father at the time..but now has remarried…she has done this with ALL 6 of her children since day 1 and her oldest will be 20 this May…The 9 year old is use to spending almost every weekend here with Grandpa and I & like I said DSS placed her in our home for 1-1/2 years back in 2012 for my Daughter trying to commit suicide twice…
        I talked to a Lady in the court house In Lancaster, WI…she told me that my Daughter & I could have an hour meeting at N/C and if we couldn’t agree on any arrangements on my Husband & I seeing the kids, that it would go in front of the judge & get charged 75.00 per hour & whoever had the most income would have to pay…
        Also that if my Daughter was a no show on the first hour where there is no charge, that would count as our first hour..and she’s a good one for cancelling appointments

        • The law just recently changed where grandparents can seek visitation without having a ‘parent-like relationship”. I’m not sure what you are referring to about the meeting except perhaps mediation? Mediation is a good idea but, ultimately, you need to file a motion if she won’t cooperate or you can’t resolve the situation. Good luck.

  11. I’m in a situation…
    My brother passed away 6 months before his sons was born. I was there the day he was born as I’ve been a stable male figure in his life. I’m having his mother tell me that he’s not aloud to see me because he has an attitude when he comes home from my house. I’ve tried to talk to her and she won’t ever response unless it’s to bash me and to tell me he won’t be able to come over anymore. She has kept him away from his father’s entire side of the family. I’m the only one she allows him to see. She uses me for punishment. If he does something he can’t see me. I’m hoping there’s something I can do legally. Please if I can get some guidance on this it would be greatly appreciated.

    • The first question is whether they were married. This makes a difference on the answer. If not, you should have a fairly good chance of success in establishing visitation rights. If they were, the new status of the law says that third parties, such as yourself, need to have a parent like relationship with the child. What does this mean? Really – just a substantial relationship which sounds as if you have had. In either case, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to assist you in this matter. Most family law attorneys offer free consultations and they can tell you what your chances of success are based on the facts of your situation. Good luck.

  12. I am the mother of a 4 year old boy. I have full custody of my son due to his father getting his 5th owi with my son in the car. It has been a very stressful time for my son and myself aswell. I got full custody in January, now my son’s grandmother from his dads side is trying to get visitation rights. I do let my son go to her house on any Saturday typically that she wants… but last time my son’s dad was in jail for his drinking problem is let my son go to her house and he came back with bruises up and down his body. So I called her to find out how it happened she said she didnt see anything. So told her that he would not be sleeping over any more. Come to find out she had my son (was 3 years old) bathe with a 9 year old boy un-supervised!!! Which really upset me. That is a 6 year age difference. She leaves my son at her other daughters house that has 3 kids that she doesn’t watch because she is too busy upstairs drinking. Which is know for a fact because I lived with her for a month before I said enough was enough. I’m not going to put my son in that predicament. Well getting to the point is just got an email from my attorney saying that she is taking me to court for grandparents visitation. I have no idea what to do. Oh and not to mention every time she wants my son to come over if have to talk him into it. He crys and crys and crys and begs me to the point where he is crying so saying mommy please please mommy please don’t make me go with her!! I don’t wanna go which leads me to belive that something is going on. I need some feedback on how to go about this. I do have an attorney already.
    I almost think she is doing it so she can take my son to see his father. But I haven’t signed the papers allowing him to go to the prison to see his father. Can the courts or anyone force me to sign the papers?
    Thank you for taking the time to read this

    • I am assuming that you were never married to the father? If so, then I am afraid she does have the right to seek visitation. However, that does not mean that she will get it. And, even if she does, the court can impose restrictions such as no overnights, not being able to go to the aunt’s house or not being able to visit in prison. Unfortunately, I have had judges order prison visits. It really depends on the situation. I would strongly recommend you hire an experienced family law attorney right away. Most attorneys do have free consultations. If money is an issue, there are also low cost alternatives. Call the Wisconsin State Bar Lawyer Referral Hotline for the best results.

  13. My husband and I have been denied the opportunity to see our 10yo grandson because our daughter is in a relationship with a man that feels we don’t respect him enough. He has a 10yo daughter and feels that if we don’t take her to visit my grandmother than my grandson can’t go. I feel that this man is controlling and has a big influence on our daughter.
    He cursed at my grandson, I have proof, because my daughter’s cell phone pocket dialed and I have it on my voice mail.
    We have always been part of our grandson’s life. When she was divorcing her husband, she lived with us for several years and when she moved out, she moves a half a block away and we had our grandson after school practically every day. He’s always been a part of our life and now we are cut off.
    Do I have a case for visitation?

    • Yes, grandparents have the right to seek visitation. Whether you would succeed is another story and I can’t answer that for you. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney who practices in the county where your grandchild resides. Good luck.

    • Contact the county courthouse where you grandchildren reside. Grandparent visitation is a complicated issue and I would recommend you consult with an experienced family law attorney as well.

  14. I have a question. I have adopted my step child who I’ve been raising as my own for now more than half her life and me and my wife have had other children together and as a rule we don’t want any grandparent/relative to think that it’s ok to take only 1 group of grandchildren over another so they must take them all or nothing. But one grandma feels she only wants her and have continuously told her it’s all of them or nothing. So we’ve denied her request to only have her. The biological father is dead and they were never married, And she keeps threatening to go to court. It’s getting old and honestly I just would rather go and get it over with. Does she have a case?

    • You don’t say which grandma this is – paternal or maternal. If it is paternal (bio dad), why would she take grandchildren that are not hers? You cannot ignore the reality that the oldest child is different from the younger. And, if it is bio dad’s mother, then yes, I believe she would have a case. I am not an adoption expert so I don’t know all of the laws in a situation where bio dad died and there is a subsequent adoption. I do believe the statutes provide, however, visitation rights to grandparents. You need to seek the advice of an attorney who is experienced in adoption.

      If it is maternal grandparent, I can see your point and you need to find out why she is taking this position. It is strange, especially since the other grandchildren are hers too. However, I do not believe she would have standing to seek visitation as there is no pending action which has jurisdiction over the child since you adopted her. Under the law, you are an “intact” family and in those cases, grandparents cannot seek visitation.

  15. My son has a 3 year old little girl with someone he is not married to. There was a paternity case and it has been established he is the father. The mother and my son’s relationship ended and it is not on good terms.The mother of the child makes it very difficult for my son to see his daughter by putting her nose into what is none of her business (current relationship) it is plane to see that the mom is not over my son.
    when the child was born up until she was about a year My husband and I saw her all the time. Then things got worse and my son stopped seeing his daughter because he can not deal with the moms inappropriate conduct. Both the mom and my son have had run ins with the law. We did not get to see our granddaughter for a year my husband was fighting stage 3 colon cancer. Then out of the blue she starts contacting us and we reestablish our relationship. Now hear is the problem my son is currently incarcerated for not paying child support . My husband and I have been seeing our granddaughter taking her over night and all the fun stuff grandparents do, The mom found out that my son gets out to go to work.. Now the mom will not let my husband and I see our granddaughter and told us if we want to see her we have to be supervised. when we asked why she said “because I said so” Can she do this to us?
    There is so much more to this we just want to see our granddaughter.

    • From the facts you state in your post, it sounds as if you definitely have grounds to seek grandparent visitation. Until the court enters an order, you have no legal rights so mom can do whatever she wants. However, it is very possible the court will enter an order granting you placement rights given the facts you cite, unless she alleges (and can prove) you are harming the child in some way. Therefore, your best bet is to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to assist you in this matter. Good luck.

  16. Our 6 year old granddaughter has lived with us nearly full time the past year and a half. Before that she was with us nearly 60% of the time. My daughter is an alcoholic, a drug user, a thief and has left town and her kids for up to a month at a time. The 6 year olds dad has had minimal involvement. The last two years we have completely supported our granddaughter financially. I have driven her to school and back every day this year. I take her to figure skating, t ball, girl scouts etc. My daughter left town in early March. At one point she was hospitalized and then had a week stay in drug rehab. She got out and was staying with relatives and planning on starting fresh there. That didn’t last. They kicked her out and now that she’s back she’s taken our granddaughter and is not allowing us to see her. I believe she stole some vicodin from me. I had a very painful knee injury. I confronted her and now she won’t let us see or talk to our granddaughter. I have to mention she overdosed on opiods last October. Things are a mess. What rights do we have.? We had talked about seeing an attorney sooner but we just kept hoping our daughter would get better and things would work out.

    • You definitely have the right to seek grandparent visitation but you also may have a case for guardianship, which is a more permanent form of primary placement. You should consult with an attorney experienced in these areas where you reside. Good luck!

  17. My daughter and I have always had a rocky relationship. She seemed to be wanting to be more involved with me and family once she became pregnant and for about 5 months after her daughter was born. She lives with the father, they never married. The baby was diagnosed with a condition in vitro, required ultrasounds every 2 months and a high risk delivery. My daughter was 25 and on my insurance, the pregnancy and birth were covered by my insurance. I’ve had a relationship with my granddaughter since birth and began keeping her overnight weekly to every other week, by myself. I recently discovered that marijuana is being smoked in their home, when taking my granddaughter home. She is now pregnant again, due in August. I suspected she was high on Easter when she came to pick up my granddaughter, we had a fight and she now will not allow me to see my 15 month old granddaughter at all. I bought her a crib for her first birthday, they had her sleeping in a play pen until then. She has blocked my phone and calls me names since I told her she is making poor choices. She is keeping me from being involved in both babies lives. Is there a chance I could petition for grandparents rights?

    • Yes, there is a chance. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney in the county in which your daughter resides. An attorney can go over all of your options with you so that you can make the best possible decision for you and your grandchildren. Good luck.

  18. This article makes it appear as is the court is in favor of the parent; however, my husband (before we were married) was taken to court by the parents of his ex-wife (who abused the children and no longer has legal rights to the children). The grandparents, who live 1400 miles away in Florida, were granted two lengthy visits a year. The case never made it to court, but was handled and settled in mediation. I am curious, if we were to go to court again, outside of mediation, what are our chances of limiting the visits with the grandparents? These people are impossible to get along with. I am confused as to how they even have rights, knowing that they raised a child who abused her own children and has suffered a lot of emotional abuse herself by the hands of her parents. Each time the children are with the grandparents I worry about the influence they have over the children. I have also heard the grandparents say things about myself and my husband, and ask invasive questions about our personal lives which they are not supposed to do.

    • I’m sorry but I cannot specifically answer your question without seeing the court order and discussing more facts. Your best bet is to consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area who can review the entire situation in order to provide you specific advice. Most family attorney offer free consultations.

  19. So my granddaughter was born very early she is 3months old an up till today I have been aloud to see her. My son girlfriend who is the mother has taken me off the list. What can I do to be able to see my grandchild for whom may not make it .

    • Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do except to try to work with the mother. Until your son has been found to be the legal father in court, there is no enforceable right to see the child. Even then, you would have to file a grandparent visitation petition. I’m sorry.

  20. My nice has been diagnosed with mental illness. She has been using access to her children to basically blackmail her mother into doing whatever she wants to see she grandchildren. Her texts are hate filled and she constantly tells the children lies like my sister doesn’t love them. The way she treats people and her children has put a rift between her and the family that once was always trying to help her. She has been diagnosed with a personality disorder and has a serious case of narcissim. She is constantly in trouble with the law. She is not married and the father is not seeking custody. By the end of the year she could be kicked out of her apartment. The father used to bring the children to see my sister but my niece has promised to make his life miserable-so he no longer brings the kids by.
    We are not seeking to take the kids away – the kids do lover her. But having time with the kids also helps the family ensure the kids have a refuge if thet ever need one and that they are being taken care off. One reason the rift with the family happened is because she was disciplining her oldest when several members came to his defense saying the other boy started it. She didn’t care.

    Would my sister have a chance at getting a court to force my niece to allow visitation?

    • There are many issues here besides grandparent visitation and I would encourage your sister to consult with an experienced attorney regarding all of her options, including a referral to Child Protective Services. However, yes, it sounds as if she would have grounds to grant her visitation. Again, because of the complexity of the situation, I would advise her to talk to a lawyer about this.

  21. I’m a father of 2 sons. The oldest was hidden from me 4 almost 11yrs. When I found him he was being heavily physical abused by step dad. Worse part is, mom never told him I was his dad. Late teens/early 20’so he became a basket case. @ times it can be he’ll. Fast forward I have 3 gkids I rarely see cause of son who lives 2 miles from me. I never hit my son growing up or gkids but yet this is how it is. The rare times i get em they dont wana leave. They run & hide everytime he comes to pick em up.He is an evil tyrant, a bully. 2yrs ago my son got charged with child abuse. Beating 5yr old with a belt and left mark on face. Behavior learned from stepfather. I don’t hit kids. With dat being said, last fall, my gkids showed marks @ school claiming he did it again. Kids got taken again. He keeps making excuses on why I can’t see em or I got a see em when he does twice a wk on supervised visits???? I’m not the child abuser, he is. My gkids barely no who I am. He even spoken of hatred of the boys cause of family disruption & he facing prison. Just Want them to no me while I’m here. Don’t no what to do.

    • This is a very difficult situation and set of circumstances. It seems as if you really aren’t looking for grandparent visitation – you are looking to have the children placed with you primarily? I am not really sure from your post. If that is the case, you would need to be done through a guardianship or Children’s Court. This is not really a divorce or family law question/situation, which is the area that we specialize in. The first thing that you can do is call Child Protective Services and report your concerns. It sounds as if they have already taken action (where is the mom, by the way?). IF that is the case, they can place the children with you if they feel you are appropriate.

      If it is grandparent visitation that you are looking for, there are different standards if the parents were married vs. unmarried. Also, if there is a Children’s Court action pending, family court still could not make an order for visitation while that case is pending. So, you are back to calling the social worker on the case.

      You definitely should consult with an attorney in this very messy set of facts. Preferably, some who knows both family law and handles children’s court cases. Good luck!

  22. My daughter is almost 4. Her biological father has only seen her one time. She was a week old. His mother is just now coming to my parents saying she has rights to see my daughter. She has never made contact before now. I don’t know the woman very well as, truthfully, her son and I were not together for very long. But something tells me not to trust her. Unless she has seen pictures, I guarantee she doesn’t even know my daughter is blonde. What are the chances of her actually being granted vistation rights?

    • The court can grant visitation under the law but must find that it is in the best interests of your daughter to do so. Therefore, it is completely discretionary on the part of the court and will depend on all of the facts of your situation. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area to get a better idea of what might happen given the facts and what the courts typically do in your county.

  23. I have primary placement of my kids and my 17 yo daughter and 7 month old grand daughter live with me. Up until 2 weeks ago I had regular contact with my grand daughter. My daughter doesn’t not work and our arrangement had been that she helps around the house, which she refuses to do. Because I expect her to help around the house she has now decided that I can not see my grand daughter who lives in my house. I provide food, shelter, etc and my daughter gets some assistance from WIC. There are also issues with my ex husband constantly saying bad things about me and using my kids in a negative manner. I want to see my grand daughter. Do I have any rights at this point? Can she really cut off my relationship with my grand daughter? I have consulted an attorney and told that the mom really does get to decide. I am looking for help.

    • I am unclear as to how you cannot have any contact with your granddaughter when she lives in your house? How is that even possible? However, the attorney you spoke with is incorrect. You have the right to seek grandparent visitation rights. Even more importantly, given that your daughter is a minor, you may have other (stronger) options as well. You should consult with another attorney who specializes in this area. My guess is that the attorney you consulted with was not a family law expert and, therefore, did not really understand the law.

  24. My son and his wife divorced. A year after that my son was killed in a car accident. At first my ex daughter in law was pretty decent. However, she has not let us see or be with our grandson for months. She claims they are busy every weekend for month’s on end. She states “You can come see him anytime”. However, if we go to any events or activities, no one will speak, say hello or acknowledge our existence. This is true for all members of her family. If we bring any of my grandsons 1st cousins they also get the shunning treatment. She will rarely return a message or call. My surviving son called my grandson on his birthday and was not allowed to speak to him. Recently, my wife went to a tball game to see my grandson and got the usual shunning treatment. She asked my grandson when he was coming to see us, he stated never. My wife was able to ask my ex daughter in law why she was so angry with us. My ex daughter in law states we have disrespected her family.

    • I’m sorry to hear this. Honestly, your best option is to sit down with Mom and try to work it out. Find out why she is upset and what you did to upset her. Then, try to set up some kind of schedule or arrangement. Grandparent litigation is expensive, protracted and not often successful. The statute provides that a grandparent may be awarded visitation but not if “The grandparent is not likely to act in a manner that is contrary to decisions that are made by a parent who has legal custody of the child and that are related to the child’s physical, emotional, educational or spiritual welfare.” So, if Mom says you are doing that, you need to find out how and why because it may resolve the issue or you are going to have to address that in litigation anyway.

      If your attempts to clear the air with Mom do not work, then you should consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area to discuss your options regarding filing a grandparent visitation request in court. Good luck.

  25. My son died shortly after his son was born. He was not married to the mother and it was determined he was the father. My grandson is now 12 years old. His mother, for the most part has allowed me to see my grandson and I have established a close bond with him over the past 12 years, The mother, a recovering heroin addict, lives down the basement of her boyfriend’s (also a recovering H addict) parents house with my grandson. Although I dont agree with my grandson’s living arrangements or the influences he is around daily, I realize there is little I can do and grieve the loss of not only my son, but the life my grandson would have had with his father in the picture. To make a long story short, the mother collects SS for my grandson and does not work (nor have any intention of working and I think she is still using drugs of some sort). Her parents, on the other hand, have been a thorn in my side as they seem to perceive me and my family as only the “babysitters” throughout the years and are always trying to control things when it comes down to me or my son’s side of the family in maintaining a relationship with my grandson (have verbally threatened us that we will not be able to take him again for visits etc.). Long story short, now the mothers parents have decided they are moving to another state and the plan is for the mother, her boyfriend, and my grandson to move in with them. Of course, non of this was mentioned to me at all and my grandson happened to tell me. While I am not trying to control things, I am not happy to hear my grandson will be moving so far away from me and frankly have not been given any specifics as to when I may or may not be able to see him again (as the mother and her parents feel it is none of my business what they do). Another interesting note is my grandson is due to inherit a large sum of money in the next 5-6 years which concerns me.

    • Please accept our sympathies for the loss of your son. You are correct in that there is not much you can do to prevent Mom from moving with your grandson. However, you can file a petition with the court to request a more formal visitation schedule so you can still see him, even after they move. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can give you advice on this situation and tell you what the next steps are in this process. Good luck to you!

  26. I just need a form. A petition for visitation. I cant afford a lawyer and I’m doing this myself. My son’s ex girlfriend was allowing me to visit with my grandson and just cut me off because of something that happened in my son’s life and I haven’t seen him since the Thursday before Easter of 2019. In the past, she was letting me take him every monday then she cut that down to whenever it was convenient for her and then just cut me off. I have a relationship with my grandson and she took that away! I love him and he loves me. Hes about to be 6 and I want to see him! Please help me!!!

    • Hello- You need to file a Notice of Motion and Motion with an Affidavit that must be notarized. These forms are available online or you can contact the clerk of courts office in the county in which paternity was established. Good luck to you.

  27. My husband and I were Kinship Caregivers to our two grandchildren or who are two and one for 4 months and we were forced to hand the children over to their uncle because of lack of housing. He kept the boys away from us for 7 months until Social Services case worker mediated visitation rights. That worked for 7 months and the family just decided that we can’t see the kids for no reason the social worker says the kinship caregiver is just being difficult that’s the excuse we get . what do you think we the parents are unmarried and we have established a relationship with the kids I just don’t know where we should go maybe if you can give us some advice and ultimately I understand we have to talk to a family law office thank you.

    • Thank you for your message. You will need to find an attorney who practices guardianship or in children’s court actions. It sounds as if there may already be a children’s court action pending given that social services is already involved. Family court cannot take any action if social services is involved. Good luck to you.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

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