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Grandparents Rights (Updated 10/09/2019)

Grandparent Rights in Wisconsin

Many states allow at least some form of grandparent visitation, after a determination as to whether such visitation is in the best interests of the child.  However, under a new WI Supreme Court case this process has gotten much more difficult. The first thing the grandparents must prove is that the parents aren’t fit or are unfit to make this decision.   At Petit & Dommershausen, we guide you thru the process to get grandparents a great outcome.

Grandparent Visitation

Parents have fundamental rights to raise their children as they see fit, as long as the children’s basic emotional and physical needs are being met.

A grandparent must file a petition requesting visitation with the court. A judge will schedule a hearing to review the circumstances of the case and allow the child’s parents to respond.

All of the following factors must be present for a judge to grant grandparent visitation:

  • The parent is unfit (this is a difficult standard)
  • the child’s parents are not married, or were married but have subsequently divorced, separated or one parent is deceased
  • the child isn’t adopted (to non-family members)
  • the grandparent has maintained a relationship with the child, or has attempted to maintain a relationship but was prevented by the parent
  • the grandparent is unlikely to act counter to the parent’s decisions regarding the child’s emotional physical, educational or spiritual welfare, and
  • that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests.  Most of the time a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to advise the Judge as to what they think is in the best interests of the child.

Wisconsin courts require all the above elements to be met for grandparent visitation to occur.

The Court will then determine a reasonable amount of visitation.  What constitutes “reasonable visitation” will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.

When Can Grandparents Get Guardianship of a Grandchild?

In some cases, a grandparent may be able to obtain guardianship over a child’s natural parent when it’s necessary to protect the child’s safety or well-being and the parents are unfit to meet the child’s needs.

A court may only award guardianship to a child’s grandparent if the following are true:

  • granting guardianship to the grandparent would serve the child’s best interests, and
  • the parent is unfit or unable to adequately care for the child, or there are other compelling reasons for awarding guardianship to a grandparent.

The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Petit & Dommershausen can help you thru this difficult process. Call Attorney Tajara Dommershausen today to learn more about your rights and get the help you need.

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Pardons in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Governor has reinstated pardon review. Petit & Dommershausen, SC, offers a broad overview of the pardon process based on announced rules and governing law. Questions? Contact us today.

PARDON ELIGIBILITY

An individual is eligible for a pardon only if all of the following conditions apply to them:

  1. Must be for a felony conviction.
    1. However, if a secondary charge is a misdemeanor, it may be reviewed as well.
  2. A defendant must have completed the entire sentence at least five (5) years ago, meaning:
    1. Completed all periods of confinements; and
    2. All supervised release (i.e. probation, parole, and/or extended supervision).
  3. Has not been convicted of any new criminal offenses since completing the sentence and has no pending charges.
    1. This section includes convictions in jurisdictions outside of Wisconsin.
  4. Not currently required to register as a sex offense under Wis. Stat. § 301.45.

Must meet all of eligibility criteria or application will be denied.

Standard an Applicant Must Meet

The applicant must have a significant and documented need, such as:

  1. Employment related;
  2. Educational; and/or
  3. Job training.

Typically, it is inappropriate to apply for a pardon if (1) it is to clear one’s conscience or (2) reinstating one’s firearm rights.

  1. However, a Governor may review such cases if conviction is old and minor.
    1. Minor will depend on Governor’s interpretation of the crime.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of relevant factors when determining whether an application has a significant or documented need:

  1. Age
  2. Seriousness of conviction
  3. Extent of need
  4. Entire criminal record
  5. Applicant’s personal development since crime was committed; and
  6. Community or civic contributions since release.

Interested in learning more about applying for a pardon? Petit & Dommershausen, SC, is a Wisconsin law firm that can help. We regularly practice in Marinette County, Octonto County, Brown County, Door County, Kewaunee County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County, Waupaca County, Waushara County, Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, and Green Lake County. We offer convenient office locations in Appleton, Oshkosh, and Green Bay. We serve all of north east Wisconsin.

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What Are the Consequences of a Misdemeanor?

What will happen if I am charged with a misdemeanor? What happens after a misdemeanor conviction? Can I go to college after a misdemeanor conviction?
These and many other important questions are asked when dealing with a misdemeanor charge. Unfortunately, many people don’t fully understand the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction in Wisconsin. A conviction for a misdemeanor – especially a violent or drug-related misdemeanor – can carry serious penalties and deeply impact your life.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

Wisconsin Law States that a misdemeanor offense is an offense for which the maximum possible penalty is 12 months or less jail. A misdemeanor offense could include:

Domestic violence, like battery or disorderly conduct
Operating While Intoxicated (OWI aka DUI)
Theft
Prostitution and solicitation, and
Resisting or obstructing arrest

Misdemeanor Sentences

A misdemeanor conviction could carry a significant sentence. A sentence could include jail time, probation and other consequences that may affect your finances and freedom. Community service, fines, and other obligations could be imposed on your by the court at sentencing.

Firearm Rights

Certain misdemeanor offenses can affect your firearm rights. Even though you haven’t been convicted of a felony, certain domestic abuse offenses may impose federal prohibitions on firearm possession.

Work or School Issues

If you are sentenced to jail or have other conditions imposed on you, it may be difficult to meet the expectations of your employment or school. Following a conviction, it may be hard to find suitable employment or gain acceptance into certain types of schooling or maintain certain professional licenses.

The Petit & Dommershausen, SC, team will work with you to mitigate or lessen the harsh consequences of a misdemeanor conviction. We can employ legal strategies to review your case for potential defenses, conduct assertive negotiations on your behalf, advise you on steps that may assist the resolution of your case, and obtain outcomes that may circumvent difficulties that may arise with a charge or conviction.