How to Get Custody of Your Grandchild in Wisconsin
If the parents are unfit to have custody and placement of the child, the court will give guardianship to a family member such as a grandparent. Being a legal guardian is different from visitation, it is closer to custody. The court can give guardianship to a grandmother or grandfather if it is in the best interest of the child.
Is your grandchild in an unsafe or unhealthy situation with their parent or parents? If so, it may be in the child’s best interest for you to become their legal guardian.
The Wisconsin court system wants children to be in a positive environment where they are cared for physically, emotionally, and socially. When a parent is not able to care for their child, that child needs help, and you might be the best person to provide that help.
Custody Rights of Grandparents
Custody is a word used to describe a parent’s legal ability to make major decisions for a child. When that legal ability is given to a grandparent, it is now called guardianship. Guardianship also includes placement which refers to who the child lives with day-to-day.
Filing for Guardianship
The person who wants guardianship of a child needs to file all the necessary forms. The paperwork needed for guardianship includes the main petition, the nomination of a guardian, the statement of the guardian, and a few more documents.
The petition begins the case to provide the initial facts. The nomination recommends a person to act as the guardian. And the statement is where the proposed guardian confirms they want to be the guardian of the child.
Types of Guardianship a Grandparent Can Have
There are four types of guardianship. Depending on how long the child needs a guardian for, the court will give the guardian a different type of guardianship.
- Emergency guardianship is for immediate needs such as a parent getting into an accident.
- Temporary guardianship is for issues that have a concrete end point like a parent being imprisoned for a short time.
- Full guardianship is a long-term solution for when the parents should not get custody back and this lasts until the child turns 18.
- Limited guardianship is a long-term option where the parent or parents can still have some authority over the child.
How the Court Makes Guardianship Decisions
The court’s job in a guardianship case is to assign the child a guardian who will support them and foster a positive long-term relationship. To do this, the court looks at three key things: the best interest of the child, the guardian ad litem’s recommendation, and the family’s preferences.
The child’s preference is one of the most important factors the courts look at. The court will try to give guardianship to the person the child chooses as long as it is in the child's best interest.
For more information on this, read How Guardianship Works in Wisconsin.
Are you ready to move forward? Call (262) 221-8123 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.
Considerations: Guardianship in WI
Do I Need an Attorney to Get Guardianship of My Grandson/Granddaughter?
While you do not explicitly need an attorney to get guardianship of your grandson or granddaughter, it is often recommended to have one. An attorney will make it much easier to go through the process.
It is especially important to have an attorney when the parents don’t think their child needs a guardian. An attorney is more important here because then the case is contested. When choosing an attorney, it is best to select one who has a lot of experience with family law such as those at Sterling Lawyers.
Do I Need to Go to Court for Guardianship?
You cannot get guardianship of a child without going to court. You could take care of a child to help them or their parents out for a time, but that does not give you any of the legal rights of a guardian. Anytime the court is aware the child needs a guardian, they will be involved with the appointment of a guardian.
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?
Grandparents can have visitation rights, but only if the court rules in their favor. Generally, it is up to the parents whether or not the child sees their grandparents. For grandparents to get visitation rights outside of the parent’s wishes, they need to get a court order.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a grandma or grandpa apply for parental responsibility?
A grandma or grandpa can apply for custody, also called parental responsibility, of a child. When someone other than a parent is getting custody of a child, it is called guardianship. To get guardianship of a child, a grandparent needs to go through the guardianship process.
How do I get guardianship of a child without going to court in Wisconsin?
You cannot get guardianship of a child without going to court in Wisconsin. You can take care of a child for a time without going to court, but you must go to court to get the proper legal rights of a guardian. The court will give guardianship of the child to whomever is best able to support the child. To start the court process, you need to fill out and file the guardianship forms.
Can my grandchild live with me?
Yes, it’s possible that your grandchild can live with you. If you want a legal arrangement that gives you legal rights regarding your grandchild, then you need to get guardianship of them. This question refers to the placement of the child, and guardianship covers both custody and placement.
How is custody determined in Wisconsin?
The court determines who gets custody of a child by looking at the child’s best interest. They look at things such as the wishes of the parents, the placement of the child, and the ability of a parent to provide the child with proper care. However, when the court is determining guardianship, they look at a different set of factors.