Educational resources for teachers

Case of the month

The case of the month project provides high school teachers with some of the necessary tools to educate their students about the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Each month, during the Supreme Court's session, a "teachable" case will be highlighted. It will be chosen from the cases the Court will hear that month.

The case of the month includes a plain-English summary of the case and links to the briefs, Court of Appeals decision (if applicable), and the audio recording of the Court's oral argument. Educators and the public can sign up to receive e-mail notification when the Court issues its decision in a particular case. For past months cases check the case of the month archive.

This month's case - November 2018

Cacie M. Michels v. Keaton L. Lyons

Case number: 2017AP1142
Wisconsin Supreme Court
Oral argument: Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 9:45 a.m. (Audio)

Printable version Adobe PDF
Briefs Adobe PDF

Supreme Court case type: Certification
Court of Appeals: District III
Circuit Court: Chippewa County, Judge James M. Isaacson
Long caption:In the matter of the grandparental visitation of A. A. L.: In re the Paternity of A. A. L.: Cacie M. Michels, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Keaton L. Lyons, Respondent-Appellant, Jill R. Kelsey, Petitioner-Respondent.

Issues presented: This is an appeal, taken on certification from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District III (headquartered in Wausau). Cacie Michaels and Keaton Lyons, the parents of A.L., challenged an order of the Chippewa County Circuit Court (Judge James M. Isaacson, presiding) that granted visitation rights to Jill Kelsey, A.L.’s grandmother. Ms. Kelsey is Keaton Lyons’s mother.

Some background: Ms. Kelsey filed a petition in circuit court to compel her son, Lyons, and Michels to provide Ms. Kelsey with additional visitation time with A.L., including a one week Florida vacation. The circuit court granted Ms. Kelsey visitation one Sunday each month and for a seven day period each summer, with no restriction on where she could take the child.

Wis. Stat. § 767.43(3) provides that a court may grant reasonable visitation rights to a grandparent if: (1) the grandparent has maintained a relationship with the child or has attempted to maintain a relationship with the child but has been prevented from doing so by a parent who has legal custody of the child; (2) the grandparent is not likely to act in a manner that is contrary to decisions that are made by a parent who has legal custody of the child and that are related to the child’s physical, emotional, educational or spiritual welfare; and (3) the visitation is in the best interests of the child.

Lyons and Michels appealed, arguing that the visitation order violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, § 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. They argue that a court should only be able to order visitation under § 767.43(3) if there is a showing that failure to do so would harm the child. In the alternative, Lyons and Michel argue that, at an absolute minimum, the Supreme Court should find that a circuit court can order visitation only upon a showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that the parents’ visitation decision was wrong.

The following issues are presented for review:
1. Did the visitation order entered by the circuit court violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art. I, Sec. 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution?
2. If not, did the circuit court nevertheless erroneously exercise its discretion by granting Ms. Kelsey grandparent visitation rights?

Back to top