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When can grandparents have visitation rights with a grandchild?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2023 | Firm News

While most Wisconsin child custody disputes involve the parents, other parties might have a vested interest in the child’s well-being and want to have regular contact with them. Grandparents can be caught in the middle and not know their options to see the child. Knowing when and how grandparents can be granted visitation rights is essential as soon as they are informed of a pending divorce.

How can a grandparent seek visitation rights?

Grandparents are legally allowed to petition for visitation rights. So too are stepparents and others who had a relationship with the child that could be compared to that of a parent and child.

The court can approve these requests, but only if the court determines that it serves the child’s best interests. The parents will be notified.

However, it is not always a simple matter of the grandparent filing the petition and it being approved. There are several factors that the court will consider when making its determination. The child can have a say in the matter.

While that might sound unusual – especially if the child is young – the court can decide to hear what the child says and decide how much weight to give their preferences. Some children have had extended time with the grandparent. Perhaps they even lived with them. They might want to see them despite the parents parting ways. Others could have a different opinion.

Under state law, there is a special grandparent visitation provision. The following circumstances must be in place for this to be put in effect:

  • The child was born while the parents were not married and did not get married
  • Paternity has been determined and the grandparent is a parent of the father of the child
  • The child was not adopted
  • The grandparents had and maintained a relationship with the child or tried to do so but were rebuffed by the custodial parent
  • The grandparent will behave as the parent wants them to in making decisions for the child The child’s best interests are served by allowing the visitation

Grandparent visitation is a specific area of the law that requires detailed help

Even if the parents are agreeable to the grandparent having visitation rights with the child, it is still important to have legal guidance. Consulting with professionals who put their client’s needs first can make a significant difference in the case’s outcome.

This is true in cases where there is rampant disagreement or the parties are flexible and willing to negotiate a settlement to avoid a drawn out and contentious dispute.