For many people, being a grandparent is about getting to enjoy grandchildren and spend a lot of time with them without having to deal with the stresses of parenting. Unfortunately, divorce or the death of a parent can result in a grandparent potentially losing visitation rights.
If you are a grandparent somehow involved in a situation that is causing you to see your grandchildren less frequently or not at all, it’s important that you understand what your rights are as a grandparent.
Minnesota does have both statutory laws and common laws that allow grandparents to seek visitation rights. These laws can be complex, and it’s important to consult with a family law attorney in order to know exactly where you stand.
According to Minnesota law, visitation rights for grandparents are an extension of the parent rights of their own children. Therefore, if the child of the grandparents loses parental rights, then the grandparents also may have no visitation rights.
In addition, visitation rights can be difficult for grandparents if the parents of the child object.
While the courts in Minnesota are typically reluctant to make exceptions to these laws that would undermine a family, there are some potential considerations that might give grandparents visitation rights.
- The parent who is the grandparents’ child is deceased
- There is a proceeding for custody, separation, annulment, parentage, or dissolution
- The child has lived with the grandparents for a period of at least twelve months total (months do not have to be consecutive)
Visitation for grandparents is not necessarily guaranteed in these cases. The courts will need to consider several factors before granting these rights. For example, the courts will need to determine if the visitation would be in the best interest of the children.
It also will consider whether or not granting visitation to the grandparents would affect the relationship between the children and the parents.
There are many issues that can further complicate the rights of the grandparents. In the case of adoption, for example, all of the rights of the grandparents might be terminated completely. This can even include the rights of grandparents who have had their grandchildren living with them.
Grandparents may seek rights of visitation under many circumstances, including in cases that are contrary to the above. When a grandparent is fighting for visitation rights, there is a three-part statutory test that will determine whether or not rights will be granted.
- Is the individual seeking rights a grandparent of a party to the dissolution proceeding?
- Is the visitation in the best interests of the child?
- Would the visitation interfere with the relationship between the parent and child?
If a grandparent’s motion for visitation rights is denied, no subsequent motion may be filed within six months.
The above just represents a sampling of the guidelines regarding grandparents’ rights. There have been many cases related to the issue, and your family law attorney can help you understand more about your rights as a grandparent. No matter what the situation, there may always be hope.
As long as you are fighting for the best interest of the child, the law will often be on your side.