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Grandparents' visitation rights and the law

When a couple with children divorces, the legal results that follow can often negatively impact the grandparents of those children. Some couples simply cannot reach a consensus regarding visitation rights of grandparents, which can naturally create an emotionally painful situation. Yet Wisconsin law protects the rights of grandparents when it comes to divorce with children, and is able to intervene when a couple cannot reach an agreement regarding child visitation hours.

The State Bar of Wisconsin released an article that covers the recent state clarification on grandparent visitation rights, noting that any unrelated person who has maintained a relationship similar to a "parent-child" relationship with the child may petition the court. Of course, the court ultimately decides whether that person will receive visitation rights, but the State Bar also confirms that as long as parents have notice of the court hearing, and the visitation is in the best interest of the child, then grandparents have likely chances of gaining rights. Unlike unrelated family friends, grandparents do not have to prove they have had a "parent-child" like relationship to gain these visitation rights.

Dovetailing from the state's clarification on grandparent visitation rights, the Wisconsin State Law Library adds that the Wisconsin Supreme Court recognizes that courts have equitable powers to protect the best interests of a child by ordering visitation even in specified circumstances that do not meet the criteria of any statue governing third party visitation. Parents also have a say in what is appropriate for the child, and these preferences can nevertheless factor into the court's decisions regarding grandparents' visitation rights.    

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