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Legal Statutes: Wisconsin

UPDATED August 7, 2017

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Subchapter V. Child Custody, Placement, and Visitation

back to top767.43. Visitation rights of certain persons

(1) Petition; who may file. Except as provided in subs. (1m) and (2m), upon petition by a grandparent, greatgrandparent, stepparent or person who has maintained a relationship similar to a parent-child relationship with the child, the court may grant reasonable visitation rights to that person if the parents have notice of the hearing and if the court determines that visitation is in the best interest of the child.

(1m) Exception; homicide conviction. (a) Except as provided in par. (b), the court may not grant visitation rights under sub. (1) to a person who has been convicted under s. 940.01 of the first-degree intentional homicide, or under s. 940.05 of the 2nd-degree intentional homicide, of a parent of the child, and the conviction has not been reversed, set aside or vacated.

(b) Paragraph (a) does not apply if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the visitation would be in the best interests of the child. The court shall consider the wishes of the child in making the determination.

(2) Wishes of the child. Whenever possible, in making a determination under sub. (1), the court shall consider the wishes of the child.

(2m) When special grandparent provision applicable. Subsection (3), rather than sub. (1), applies to a grandparent requesting visitation rights under this section if sub. (3)(a) to (c) applies to the child.

(3) Special grandparent visitation provision. The court may grant reasonable visitation rights, with respect to a child, to a grandparent of the child if the child's parents have notice of the hearing and the court determines all of the following:

(a) The child is a nonmarital child whose parents have not subsequently married each other.

(b) Except as provided in sub. (4), the paternity of the child has been determined under the laws of this state or another jurisdiction if the grandparent filing the petition is a parent of the child's father.

(c) The child has not been adopted.

(d) The grandparent has maintained a relationship with the child or has attempted to maintain a relationship with the child but has been prevented from doing so by a parent who has legal custody of the child.

(e) The grandparent is not likely to act in a manner that is contrary to decisions that are made by a parent who has legal custody of the child and that are related to the child's physical, emotional, educational or spiritual welfare.

(f) The visitation is in the best interest of the child.

(3c) Action in which petition filed; alternatives. A grandparent requesting visitation under sub. (3) may file a petition to commence an independent action for visitation under this chapter or may file a petition for visitation in an underlying action affecting the family under this chapter that affects the child.

(3m) Pretrial hearing; recommendations. (a) A pretrial hearing shall be held before the court in an action under sub. (3). At the pretrial hearing the parties may present and cross-examine witnesses and present other evidence relevant to the determination of visitation rights. A record or minutes of the proceeding shall be kept.

(b) On the basis of the information produced at the pretrial hearing, the court shall evaluate the probability of granting visitation rights to a grandparent in a trial and shall so advise the parties. On the basis of the evaluation, the court may make an appropriate recommendation for settlement to the parties.

(c) If a party or the guardian ad litem refuses to accept a recommendation under this subsection, the action shall be set for trial.

(d) The informal hearing under this subsection may be terminated and the action set for trial if the court finds it unlikely that all parties will accept a recommendation under this subsection.

(4) Paternity determination. If the paternity of the child has not yet been determined in an action under sub. (3) that is commenced by a person other than a parent of the child's mother but the person filing the petition under sub. (3) has, in conjunction with that petition, filed a petition or motion under s. 767.80(1)(k), the court shall make a determination as to paternity before determining visitation rights under sub. (3).

(5) Interference with visitation rights. Any person who interferes with visitation rights granted under sub. (1) or (3) may be proceeded against for contempt of court under ch. 785, except that a court may impose only the remedial sanctions specified in s. 785.04(1)(a) and (c) against that person.

(6) Modification of order if homicide conviction. (a) If a person granted visitation rights with a child under this section is convicted under s. 940.01 of the first-degree intentional homicide, or under s. 940.05 of the 2nd-degree intentional homicide, of a parent of the child, and the conviction has not been reversed, set aside or vacated, the court shall modify the visitation order by denying visitation with the child upon petition, motion or order to show cause by a parent or guardian of the child, or upon the court's own motion, and upon notice to the person granted visitation rights.

(b) Paragraph (a) does not apply if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the visitation would be in the best interests of the child. The court shall consider the wishes of the child in making that determination.
L.1975, c. 122, § 1, eff. Dec. 18, 1975. St.1975, § 247.24(1)(c). L.1977, c. 105, §§ 35, 39, eff. Feb. 1, 1978. St.1977, § 247.245. L.1979, c. 32, §§ 50, 92(4), eff. July 20, 1979. 1983 Act 447, § 30, eff. May 18, 1984. 1983 Act 450, § 1, eff. May 18, 1984. 1987 Act 355, §§ 35 to 38, eff. May 3, 1988. 1995 Act 68, §§ 2 to 4, eff. Dec. 2, 1995.
1999 Act 9, §§ 3054dem to 2054der, eff. Oct. 29, 1999. St.2003, § 767.245. 2005 Act 443, §§ 101, 183, eff. Jan. 1, 2007.