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Grandparents' rights: protecting relationships with grandchildren

Due to the gradual shift in American households, more and more Wisconsin grandparents are finding themselves raising their children's children. While there are endless joys of having grandchildren, many grandparents express confusion over specific rights when it comes to child custody and visitation. Even in situations where grandparents are not the head of the household, it can be difficult to determine the fine print.

Recently, grandparents in the state have seen changes when it comes to child custody and visitation after divorce. As shared in a 2016 article from the State Bar of Wisconsin, lawmakers have clarified the standard when determining grandparents' rights. Now, grandparents are included in the list of people who can petition the court. Prior to this adjustment, grandparents in the state did not have the privilege of requesting specific visitation rights, since the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren was previously not considered a "parent-child" relationship. 

The University of Wisconsin provides a more detailed rundown of child custody, visitation and grandparents' rights in the state. Because a divorce can disrupt many areas of a child's life -- including the ability to spend time with grandparents -- the rights of a grandparent can be crucial. When courts determine grandparents' rights, they generally consider the child's parents' abilities to provide proper care, as well as the best interest of the child. Nevertheless, many grandparents are cut out of the picture. The university goes on to state that, in these cases, grandparents may turn to their rights to clarify the situation. Common questions involve the death of a grandparent's child, potential abuse within the home and financial support. While learning that one's relationship with a grandchild is at stake can certainly be upsetting, there are ways grandparents can protect family bonds.     

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