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While most Minnesota custody proceedings involve birth parents, third parties occasionally play a role in this process. Generally, Minnesota courts emphasize the best interests of the child, which include maintaining strong relationships with both parents.

In select circumstances, traditional parental custody might not be ideal for vulnerable children — particularly if birth parents hold a history of abuse or neglect. In such situations, the custody of a third party such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another adult may be the best option for maintaining the health and emotional wellbeing of the child in question.

De Facto Custody

Some aspiring third-party custodians may already serve as primary caretakers. These adults can file petitions for custody if they have resided with a given child for a significant period of time while that child’s parents exhibited “a lack of demonstrated consistent participation.” The Minnesota Statutes mandate a period of six months for children under the age of three — or one year for older children.

The state’s definition of “a lack of demonstrated consistent participation” implies that the birth parent refuses or neglects to handle such essential duties as providing the child food, shelter, education, health care, or a nurturing relationship.

Interested Third Parties

A responsible adult who intends to obtain custody without first residing with vulnerable children can petition for rights as an interested third party. This typically occurs if the child’s parents pass away — or if the child suffers abuse or neglect. This process might not result in the termination of all parental rights, but significant restrictions may be imposed if necessary.

No matter the nature of your current custody concerns, you can depend on the team at the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. for support. Contact us today to learn more about our approach to child custody — and to discover how you can benefit from our personalized legal services.