In which legal situations do grandparents have visitation with their grandchildren?

It was discussed in the prior blog post that federal and state law protect the parent-child relationship because it is a paramount right for parents to choose to raise their children with or without grandparent involvement.

The United States Supreme Court in the Troxel case solidified parents choose how much or how little grandparents see their grandchildren.  Minnesota law supports that federal decision.

Yet, Minnesota law does allow grandparents in certain situations the ability to have limited contact with their grandchildren so long as their visitation does not interfere with the parent-child relationship.  Those situations include:

1.     The death of one of the parents when those parents were not married. Minnesota Statute §257C.08, subdivision 1 says:

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.

2.     When there is a divorce, custody case or legal separation. Minnesota Statute §257C.08, subdivision 2 reads:

(a) In all proceedings for dissolution, custody, legal separation, annulment, or parentage, after the commencement of the proceeding, or at any time after completion of the proceedings, and continuing during the minority of the child, the court may, upon the request of the parent or grandparent of a party, grant reasonable visitation rights to the unmarried minor child, after dissolution of marriage, legal separation, annulment, or determination of parentage during minority if it finds that: (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 shall consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the party and the child prior to the application.

(b) 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.

3.     When there is a step-parent adoption.  Minnesota Statute §257C.08, subdivision 6 states:

(a) A grandparent of a child adopted by a stepparent may petition and a court may grant an order setting visitation with the child if:

(1) the grandparent is the parent of:

(i) a deceased parent of the child; or

(ii) a parent of the child whose parental relationship was terminated by a decree of adoption according to section 259.57, subdivision 1; and

(2) the court determines that the requested visitation:

(i) is in the best interests of the child; and

(ii) would not interfere with the parent and child relationship.

All is not lost when grandparents want to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives.  Consulting with an attorney to fully understanding the options grandparents have is one important tool to keep families together.

Contact experienced family law attorney Jessica L. Sterle at (218) 722-2655 to schedule a consultation to discuss child custody, parenting time and grandparent’s rights.