Filing for Legal Guardianship of a Minor in Polk County


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

1. Complete the following forms:

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.

If you do not have an attorney representing you, it is very important that you read the forms and the laws referenced in the forms carefully. The laws referred to in the guardianship forms include Wisconsin Statutes §§54.10(1), 54.34, 54.50. These statutes can be found at

2. Call the Register in the Probate Court (715-485-9238). Ask the Registrar if you will need to fill out any other forms to file with Probate Court. Additional forms can be found at

3. Sign the forms (where applicable) in the presence of a notary public. Some of the forms, such as the Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem and Order and Notice of Hearing, will need to be completed by the court and do not require your signature.

Most banks and some post offices have notaries on staff that is 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.

4. Take the completed forms to the Polk County Courthouse at 1005 W. Main Street, Balsam Lake, WI 54810. The Register in Probate office can be found on the 5th Floor in room 500.

5. After you file the forms, the Registrar will set a hearing date.

6. A guardian ad litem (GAL) will be appointed to represent the child in court. A GAL is an attorney who is responsible for determining what is best for the child and working for that outcome in court. The GAL 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. You will be responsible for the guardian ad litem fees.

7. Prior to the hearing, you must serve the child’s parents or guardian, the GAL, and all other interested parties with a copy of the petition. Ask the Probate Office for instructions 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.

After you have served the parties or have attempted to serve the parties, Affidavits of Service (form GN-3120) should be filed with the Registrar in Probate Court.

8. On the day of court, arrive early to allow time to find parking, pass through security and locate the courtroom. Bring copies of the petition and all other forms with you to the hearing.

9. Your hearing will be in front of a Probate Court judge. If the GAL and all interested parties are in the courtroom or have been served properly with the guardianship paperwork, the judge 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.

Note: Temporary Guardianships are valid for 60 days, and can be renewed for an additional 60 days. A petition to extend a temporary guardianship (GN – 3270) must be filed with the Court prior to the expiration of the first 60 days.

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