Filing for Legal Guardianship of a Minor in Milwaukee County


Step-by-step guide to filing for guardianship pro se (without an attorney) in Milwaukee County (for other counties, call your county court and ask to speak with the clerk of courts for instructions)

1. Complete the following forms:

Additional formats of forms GN-3920 and GN-3140 may be downloaded by going to

On form GN-3290, you will be asked why the minor needs a guardian. If you are applying for guardianship because the child involved has been abused or neglected and a court has previously determined that the child has been abused or neglected, please have these court orders ready to show the judge assigned to your guardianship case. Keep all court documents and orders you have for the child together and in a safe place.

2. Call the Children’s Court for an appointment at 414-257-5422. State that you would like an appointment to file for guardianship of a minor and that you are not represented by an attorney. When you file your guardianship petition, you will be required to pay a filing fee of $15, unless you are eligible to have this fee waived

3. Bring the completed forms to Room 1530 of the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center (formerly the Children’s Court Center), 10201 Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226. The office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

4. If you are applying for permanent guardianship, a court date will be set for you within eight weeks from the date of filing. Temporary guardianships allow for expedited requests (forty-eight hours).

5. You must serve child’s parents with a copy of the petition. The clerk’s office will provide instruction on service. If there is no proof of attempted service, proceedings may be delayed. If the child has a guardian or legal custodian other than the parents, the guardian or custodian must also be notified of the petition.

6. Sign the forms in the presence of a notary public. Most banks and some post offices have notaries on staff that are available to the public. You can also check the Yellow Pages for a list of notaries or search for a notary by city, street address or zip code on the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s website. Be sure to call ahead to ensure that the notary is available, ask if there is a fee for this service, and bring government-issued picture identification (state i.d. card, driver’s license, passport or military i.d. card) when you go to sign the forms.

It is recommended that you find a notary and sign the forms prior to your appointment at Children’s Court. However, if you cannot find a notary, take the unsigned forms with you to your appointment, and someone in the clerk’s office will notarize the forms for you. (Note: Unlike Children’s Court, most county courts do not have notaries on staff. If you are located in a county other than Milwaukee, you will most likely need to find a notary outside of the clerk’s office.)

7. A guardian ad litem (GAL) will be appointed to represent the child in court. A guardian ad litem is an attorney who is responsible for determining what is best for the child and working for that outcome in court. The guardian ad litem may consider what the child wants, but is not required to follow the child’s wishes. You should expect to be contacted by the GAL prior to your court date. He or she will investigate the child’s need for guardianship and report back to the court.

8. On the day of court, check in with the clerk sitting outside of the courtroom. Arrive early to allow time to find parking, pass through security and locate the courtroom.

9. Your hearing will be in front of a Children’s Court commissioner. If the guardian ad litem and all interested parties are in the courtroom or have been served properly with the guardianship paperwork, the commissioner will proceed.

10. The court will decide whether the child is in need of a guardian and whether granting guardianship to you is in the best interests of the child. The number of hearings it will take to reach a decision depends on many factors. For additional information, contact an attorney or call Kids Matter Inc. at 414-344-1220.


The information provided on this website is general information about Wisconsin law and/or procedure, and is not intended to serve as legal advice.  Every situation is unique.  General information is not a substitute for legal counsel.  Individuals needing legal advice or legal assistance should consult an attorney.


Contact Us

Kids Matter Inc.
P: 414-344-1220 F: 414-344-1230
1850 N. Martin Luther King Dr. Suite 202
Milwaukee, WI 53212