– from Richard Q. in Lisbon, WI

Question Details:

My ex-wife had a child with a previous boyfriend in another state. She left him, took the child, and moved here to Wisconsin. We met and were soon married. When the child's father asked for a custody change, the mother agreed to joint custody. Due to complex circumstances, the father managed to get full custody. Can I petition for visitation even though I'm a stepparent?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Believe it or not, this question is not all that uncommon. The circumstances are unique, however.

Learn more about third party custody here.

The real question is, who has jurisdiction? If the father is living out of state, and the child is currently with him, then the state he lives in more than likely has jurisdiction. The closest relationship I can think of that would relate to this situation is the case of Thompson v. Thompson 129 Wis. 2d 348, 384 N.W.2d 713 (Ct. App. 1986). Despite the complexities involved in the case, one of the factors involved a state having jurisdiction, but deciding not to exercise that jurisdictional power. You do have rights as a stepparent, it's just a matter of understanding who has jurisdiction on the matter.

My advice is to contact a family law attorney right away to discuss the details of this kind of custody case.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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