– from Diana Y. in Ottawa, WI

Question Details:

My niece was about a year old when her mother, my sister, was facing some difficulties with her life. I volunteered to help my sister out by taking unofficial custody of her daughter. I raised my niece while my sister got her life together. This took about four years. When I gave my sister her daughter back, we agreed that I would still be a part of her life. This was several months ago. Slowly but surely my welcome has apparently worn out. Now she will not let me see my niece at all. Can I take her to court for visitation rights?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Anything is possible when it comes to child custody cases.

It is not common for courts to grant visitation rights to extended family members such as grandparents or aunts and uncles. We can find a similar case in F.P.R. v. J.M. (In re Custody of D.M.M.) 128 Wis. 2d 265, 382 N.W.2d 73 (Ct. App. 1985) (Reversed by 137 Wis. 2d 375, 404 N.W.2d 530 (1987). This case involved an aunt who was seeking visitation for the child she took care of for six years. She was initially denied, but the courts have expanded the definition of extended family visitation since that case. Your case would undoubtedly rest on specific circumstances.

My advice is to contact an attorney to discuss the details of your situation in depth.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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