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Oct 19 2020

Third Party Custody Rights: Minnesota v. Wisconsin

When deciding the custody of a minor child, it is imperative that all the facts and circumstances should be carefully considered to determine what arrangement will offer the best life for the child. Using our years of experience in family law and knowledge of the family court system, we know how to collect and present the appropriate evidence to show what is truly in the child’s best interest. Our expertise will help avoid confusion and stress for the child and result in a clear, stable plan for their future.

In various cases, the arrangement that is in the best interest of the child may not in fact be with the child’s parents but rather with a third party. It is common for this third-party to be a grandparent who is willing and able to take on the custody of a minor child. If you or a loved one is considering third-party custody rights as a grandparent, it is important to understand the specific implications of the state controlling the custody of the child.

In comparing two sister states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the rights associated with third party custody arrangements are drastically different. In regard to Minnesota, it is difficult to find a better system of rights for grandparents. Minnesota Law allows third parties, including grandparents, to request a court proceeding to obtain custody over a child. This can be the child’s physical custody, legal custody, or both. In order to request custody, a party must either be acting as the child’s de facto custodian or an interested third party looking to do so. A de facto custodian is someone who has lived with the child for a minimum of six months within the last two years and has taken an active role in the parenting of the child. An interested third party is someone who does not meet the requirements of a de facto custodian, but rather can show that the best interest of the child is not served by living with their parent(s) due to physical or emotional danger, or another extraordinary circumstance. These various avenues allow for great flexibility when attempting to establish third-party custody.

To contrast, Wisconsin does not offer third-party custody. Instead, there is Guardianship which can be used in lieu of 3rd party custody. However, it’s not secured against reverting back to the original parent like the legal protection of Minnesota’s endangerment standard. This means that although it may be determined that a child’s best interest is served by having a grandparent maintain custody of the child, this can be nullified by the Wisconsin Constitutional preference for biological parents, and custody of the child can be given back to the actual parent.

Whether you or a loved one are dealing with a situation where third-party custody is an option for a child in your life, Atticus Family Law, S. C. is here to guide you through the process. Our attorneys are skilled and experienced in custody matters in both states. Our focus is helping our clients resolve their family law matters favorably so they can move forward with a clear set of rules and peace of mind for the future. So, whether you root for the Vikings or prefer the Green Bay Packers, we are here to help guide you through this process.


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