Grandparent Rights in Wisconsin: Can I File an Action?

Sad senior couple in  parkIn Wisconsin, grandparents may be afforded the legal right to have visitation with their grandchildren. The process to obtain these rights may be difficult, therefore it is helpful to have an attorney navigate you through this process.

When the parents have been married, and have subsequently divorced, grandparents may request “reasonable visitation rights” in the existing family law action. In order to be successful in this type of action, the grandparent must successfully demonstrate three factors: (1) he/she has maintained a parent-child relationship with a child, (2) the child’s wishes to have a relationship with the grandparent, and (3) the visitation with the grandparent is found to be in the child’s best interest.

When the parents are unmarried, the grandparent may file an independent suit or petition if they have maintained a relationship with the child or have attempted to do so, but were prevented from having a relationship with the child by the child’s custodial parent. In these cases, there must be a determination of who is the father of the child (a paternity determination). If the requirements are met, then the court will consider other factors, such as the best interest of the child, the wishes of the child, and whether the grandparent will abide by decisions made by the child’s parents concerning the child’s “physical, emotional, educational or spiritual welfare,” if that grandparent is afforded visitation rights.

There are also other actions available to grandparents seeking visitation when one or both parents are deceased or when the biological grandchild has been adopted. Nelson, Krueger and Millenbach, LLC does not handle guardianship cases or adoption cases, so if this is your situation, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in these areas of the law.

If you wish to speak with an attorney regarding grandparents rights in a divorce action or in a paternity matter, please contact Nelson, Krueger and Millenbach, LLC, at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free half-hour consultation.

6 thoughts on “Grandparent Rights in Wisconsin: Can I File an Action?

  1. I live in New York, but my grandsons live in Wisconsin. Can i still file for Grandparents visitation?

    • Yes but you would need to file here in Wisconsin. Also, depending on the circumstances, it is unlikely that you would be allowed to take your grandsons to New York. You would most likely have to visit them here. You should consult with an attorney to explore all of the facts of your situation and likely scenarios/options.

  2. I currently have placement of grandchild threw state due to chips case sinnce child was 6weeks old .now a yr later Father is currantly trial placement(3month period) for reunification. He is refusing to let us see him or sibling that is also placed with us . Can I file for grandparents rights ?

  3. My daughter passed away a month ago, her and her two children lived with me and have since day one of both kids lives, they have different father’s, which neither one really had anything to do with them, one asked once and awhile and my daughter stopped taking him to his father because my grandson just didn’t want to go and he was not consistent when she allowed it, he is 4, and him and i are very very close, my granddaughter is almost 2, i was dad in the delivery room, and her dad didn’t even acknowledge her for 6 months and then never spent time with her, although his mother has been a big part of her life, my daughter died suddenly and the kids got placed in the dad’s care and refuse to let me see them, i have a few legal issues but IAM doing everything I’m suppose to be doing, with greif conseling classes for drug and grieve conceling, and other things as well, the dad’s tell cps the 4 year doesn’t ask for me but i have heard the complete opposite, and i know deep in my heart there’s no way he’s not asking for me, it’s been me, my daughter and those kids, that’s all they know and the dad’s are not saints at all, so there judging me when there not much better and have had legal issues of there own, do i have a case to see them? Those kids have lost the two most important people in there lives

    • Oh my gosh! I am so very sorry over the loss of your daughter and now your grandchildren. You absolutely have a case to see them and, in fact, perhaps even have primary placement. Run, don’t walk, to an experienced lawyer who can help you right away! You should look for someone experienced in the area of not only family law but guardianship as I believe you may have a case for that as well. If you live in southeast Wisconsin, please email me at for a referral. If not, please check or call the State Bar Lawyer Referral Service as a place to start. Here is the link: Good luck to you and my deepest sympathies at your loss.

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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