*Wisconsin’s new guardianship law Wis. Stat. § 48.9795 went into effect August 1, 2020.It made changes to the guardianship process and may change the instructions on this page.*
For other counties, call your county court and ask to speak with the clerk of courts for instructions.
1.Complete the following forms:
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.
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.
3. On the day of your scheduled appointment, bring the completed forms to Room 1601 (Court Administration) of the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center (formerly the Children’s Court Center), 10201 Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226.
4. If you are applying for permanent guardianship, a court date will be set for you, typically within 30 days from the date of filing. Temporary guardianships allow for expedited requests (forty-eight hours).
5. 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.
6. Do NOT sign the forms that need to be notarized before your scheduled review. You will sign the forms in the presence of the clerk, who will serve as the notary for you. Bring government-issued picture identification (state i.d. card, driver’s license, passport or military i.d. card) to your review for the notary.
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 judge. If the guardian ad litem 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. For additional information, contact an attorney or call Kids Matter Inc. at 414-344-1220.