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ACLU Aids Challenge of Grandparent Child Support Law

July 8, 1986

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ The first grandparents ordered to pay support for their child’s offspring under a new Wisconsin law challenged the statute Tuesday, saying it unfairly penalizes couples whose children are not adults.

Dodge County Circuit Judge Daniel Klossner on April 9 ordered Jean Mayberry and Donald Lueptow of Beaver Dam to pay $310 a month to support their grandson, born to their 17-year-old daughter. The grandparents are divorced.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union filed the challenge on behalf of the couple Tuesday with the state Court of Appeals.

Klossner’s order was the first of its kind in the state after the Legislature in November adopted the nation’s only law to make grandparents financially responsible for the offspring of their minor children.

The law relieves grandparents of their liability when their children reach age 18 and are considered adults.

Eunice Edgar, executive director of the state Civil Liberties Union, said the law penalizes a mother’s parents. ″Generally, the parents of the boy will not be affected by this law,″ she said.

In many cases, a teen-age girl who becomes pregnant is younger than the father of the child, Ms. Edgar noted. If the boy turns 18 before the girl does, only the parents of the girl will be liable under the law for supporting the infant, Ms. Edgar said.

″I don’t think that was anything that any of us were thinking about at the time the law was adopted,″ Ms. Edgar said.

The grandparents said the law violates the right of equal protection because, in this case, the infant’s paternal grandparents are not required to pay support. The baby’s father is over 18.

The grandparents also said they should not have to pay support because they were willing to have their daughter and her child live at home. The daughter moved away in February and the order was issued in April.