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Wisconsin Guardianship of a Minor - Frequently Asked Questions

If you have arrived at this article, you are likely considering becoming the guardian of a minor child. Perhaps it is a grandchild or niece or nephew who needs you to step in and care for them, or maybe you are a foster parent who wants to take on a permanent role in the life of a minor. Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, you’re willing to see to the care, comfort, and well-being of a child in need. Sometimes the process of being granted guardianship is quick and straightforward, and other times it can be more complex. Regardless of your situation, read on to find some answers to our most frequently asked questions and Wisconsin guardianship of a minor.  


Guardianship of a Minor in Wisconsin


In Wisconsin, guardianship law is covered in Chapter 48 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. Chapter 48 is a recent update to Wisconsin guardianship of minor laws and is sometimes referred to as “Children’s Law.”  


What is the Definition of Guardianship?  


Guardianship is when a party takes responsibility for providing for the needs of the minor. The guardian will provide a home, ensure the minor attends school, and have proper medical care. Suppose the minor has money (for example, the minor is the beneficiary of the social security of a deceased parent). In that case, the guardian also manages that money and provides annual accountings regarding the minor’s health, well-being, and finances to the court if necessary. Being granted guardianship allows the guardian to make important decisions that could affect the minor into adulthood and the duty to care for the child’s development and well-being.  


What Are The Four Types Of Guardianship Of A Minor In Wisconsin?


Emergency Guardianship

Can only last up to 60 days. Any required actions taken by the guardian must be “reasonably related” to the situation that required the emergency guardianship.  

Temporary Guardianship

Can only last up to 180 days but may be extended an additional 180 days if the situation requires it. These types of guardianship are for situations where the petition shows that the parent(s) cannot take care of the child for some time but are not permanent and do not get extended continuously.  

Limited Guardianship

The guardian only gets specific rights over the minor. After showing that the parent cannot provide specific types of care for the minor, the guardian will take on only limited duties related to the care of the minor. The court will determine the duties allowed in the limited guardianship. The court will also order at what time the limited guardianship expires, so it will have a specific expiration date.  

Full Guardianship

Once granted, this guardianship remains in place until the minor turns 18. The petition must show that the parents are completely incapable or unwilling to provide for the minor’s needs and a willingness to take over total care of the minor. People often refer to full guardianship as a “permanent” guardianship, but that is not the case with minors, as discussed later in the article



Do I Need An Attorney To Get Guardianship Of A Minor?  


Technically you do not need to have an attorney to get guardianship. Still, an experienced guardianship attorney will certainly be able to assist in streamlining the process and make sure that there are no unexpected speedbumps along the way if the petition is uncontested. If the parents of the minor are fighting guardianship, hiring an attorney would serve you well. The same goes for other relatives of the minor who think that they are the best choice for guardianship. An experienced guardianship attorney will be able to advise you about the process and help present your strongest possible case to the court, increasing the odds of a ruling in your favor. At the very least, having a consultation with a guardianship attorney would be a good idea before you petition the court for guardianship.  



Do I Need An Attorney To Get Guardianship Of My Grandchild?  


Suppose the parents do not want to give up control over the minor. In that case, they will fight a guardianship petition in court. That is where having an attorney will certainly assist you in winning your case.  


Do I Need A Lawyer To Petition For Guardianship Of A Minor In Wisconsin?  


You are not required by law to have an attorney to petition for guardianship. Still, it is a very good idea to at least consult with an experienced Wisconsin guardianship attorney. Suppose you think your petition for guardianship will be challenged. In that case, you will increase your chances of success by hiring an attorney to represent you.  Read our article, How to Get Guardianship of a Child in Wisconsin Without Going to Court for more information on your guardianship options.  


What Are The Necessary Guardianship Forms In Wisconsin?  


Wisconsin offers the relevant civil court forms online, in English and Spanish.  


What Is The Difference Between Guardianship Of A Minor And Custody?  


Guardianship and custody are both terms that are used when referring to the legal relationship between an adult and a minor. The difference lies in the relationship between the adult and the minor. If the adult is the biological parent of the minor, then that adult would have custody of the minor. If the adult is not the biological parent, the legal relationship is guardianship, not custody.  

Can I Get Paid For Guardianship In Wisconsin?  


If the terms of the proposed guardianship meet several specific conditions, the guardianship can be subsidized. The rate of subsidization is based on the Foster Care System. The minor must be in the foster care system, and reunification/adoption must not be viable options for the minor. The proposed guardian to be subsidized must be an approved foster parent who already cared for the child six months before the guardianship. If the minor is 14 or older, the minor must agree. The proposed guardian must demonstrate a strong commitment to the minor. Finally, there must be either a family relationship or a “family-like” relationship between the minor and the proposed guardian.  


Can I Get Temporary Guardianship Of A Minor In Wisconsin?  


It depends on why you ask the court to grant you temporary guardianship. In Wisconsin, the court required that certain elements be met before granting the temporary guardianship of a minor. The burden is on the petitioner to show the court that the minor’s parent(s) cannot take care of the child for a certain period. The petitioner must show that the minor's situation requires that temporary guardianship be granted. The petitioner must show the court that temporary guardianship must be granted for the minor to receive necessary care and supervision. The temporary guardianship is only meant to last 180 days. Suppose a particular set of circumstances require an extension. In that case, the temporary guardianship can be extended an additional 180 days but only with the court's permission.

Can Permanent Guardianship Of A Minor Be Terminated In Wisconsin?  


Guardianship of a minor is never intended to be permanent. Eventually, the minor will reach their majority, and the guardianship will automatically end. If the court grants you full guardianship, it will last until the minor turns 18. If you have full guardianship, you will not have to petition to get it extended by the court, like temporary or emergency guardianship. After the full guardianship is granted, another party can petition to have your guardianship terminated, and a new one with them as the guardian put into place. The key here is that while you can have full guardianship of a minor in Wisconsin, it is never a “permanent” guardianship, and another interested party can file a petition to have it removed or altered.  


Where Do I Go To Petition For Guardianship Of A Minor In Wisconsin?


A good place to start would be to meet with an experienced Wisconsin guardianship attorney. Although it is certainly possible to file for guardianship on your own, there can be many details that an untrained person could miss or specific important aspects of your particular situation that require an attorney's expertise. If you are looking for an experienced guardianship attorney to lend a hand, feel free to reach out to one of our Wisconsin attorneys, we would be happy to help you.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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