Grandparents often envision their golden years spent by happily caring for and treating their grandchildren. In recent years, as a symptom of our skyrocketing divorce rates, much litigation has occurred when grandparent's are prevented from seeing their grandchildren. As a direct result, today all states have statutes authorizing a court to award visitation to a grandparent under certain circumstances
In Minnesota, a district court has broad discretion to determine what is in the best interests of a child regarding visitation. The authority of the Court to consider grandparents when making visitation decisions is spelled out in Minnesota Statutes § 518.1752 which incorporates by reference the statutory provisions of Minnesota Statutes Sec. 257C.08.
257C.08 specifically allows the district court to consider a request (by petition) for grandparent's rights to visitation if the grandparents are the parents of a deceased parent of the child. It states specifically that:
If a parent of an unmarried minor child is deceased, the parents and grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable
visitation rights to the unmarried minor child during minority by the district court upon finding that visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent child relationship. The court shall consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent and the child prior to the
application. M.S.A. §257C.08.
Moreover, Minnesota statutes also allows grandparents to file a petition for visitation as a separate action outside of a divorce, paternity action, annulment or legal separation if the minor child has lived with the grandparent's or even the great grandparent's for a year or more. If that occurs, and the parent subsequently decides to remove the child from that grandparent's home, the grandparents or great-grandparents may petition the district court for an order granting them reasonable visitation rights to the child. . In such cases a court may order visitation for grandparent's if:
(1) visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child; and
(2) such visitation would not interfere with the
parent-child relationship. The court must consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the
party and the child prior to the application.
(3) If a motion for grandparent visitation has been heard and denied, unless agreed to in writing by the parties, no subsequent motion may be filed within six months after disposition of a prior motion on its merits.
Rights to visitation now also extend beyond familial relationships. Under Minnesota Statutes Sec. 257C.08 any person who has cared for an unmarried minor, other than a foster parent, for two years or more may petition the district
court for an order granting the person reasonable visitation
rights to the child. Once again, the standard that is applied in making such determination is whether:
- visitation rights would be in the best interests of the
- the petitioner and child had established emotional ties
creating a parent and child relationship; and
- visitation rights would not interfere with the
relationship between the custodial parent and the child.
In such cases, the court is specifically directed by statute to consider the reasonable preference of a child, deemed by the Court to be of sufficient age to express a preference. That usually occurs around the age of 12.
All grandparent's rights to visitation are terminated when a biological parent's rights are terminated and/or the child is adopted by a person other than a stepparent or grandparent. Moreover, any visitation rights previously granted prior to the adoption of the child are automatically terminated upon such adoption.
However, if a child is adopted by a stepparent, a grandparent or great grandparent may petition the court for an order setting visitation with the child if:
- the grandparent is the parent of:
- a deceased parent of the child; or
- a parent of the child whose parental relationship was terminated by a decree of adoption according to section 259.57,
subdivision 1; and
- the court determines that the requested visitation:
- is in the best interests of the child; and
- would not interfere with the parent and child relationship.
For a Consultation on Minnesota Grandparent's rights with a Minnesota Lawyer, including rights to custody and visitation, please call us at (612)
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