Grandparent Rights in Minnesota

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: What are the Issues?

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota center around 2 issues:

1. Grandparent visitation/time, and

2. Grandparent custody

grandparents rights in minnesota custody

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: Visitation

Grandparent visitation refers to a grandparent getting court-ordered parenting time, also known as visitation, with a child.

Since parents with parenting time rights can generally let whoever they want visit their children this is often not an issue. A typical case occurs when one parent dies and the remaining parent has friction with his/her in-laws.

Without a visitation order, a parent has no legal obligation to allow a grandparent to visit his/her child. In order to deal with this difficult situation, grandparents have the option of using the legal system to pursue grandparent visitation.

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: “How Can I See my Grandchildren?”

In this situation, the grandparent needs to demonstrate to the court that:

  • 1. Visitation with the grandparent is in the best interests of the child, and
  • 2. Visitation with the grandparent would not interfere with the parent-child relationship

A grandparent visitation proceeding does not give the grandparents any rights relating to the child other than the right to have the child visit with them. If grandparents want decision-making rights with regard to the child, they would have to try for custody of the child. 

grandparents rights in minnesota visitation

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: Custody

Grandparent custody refers to a grandparent getting court-ordered legal and/or physical custody of a grandchild and typically would do so through what’s called a 3rd party custody proceeding.

Generically, 3rd party custody is when someone other than the child’s parent has legal and/or physical custody of the child.

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: “How Can I get Custody of my Grandchild?”

There are 2 possible methods for attempting to get 3rd party custody:

1. As a De Facto Custodian, or

2. As an Interested 3rd Party

The petitioner, in this case, a grandparent, must establish that s/he is either a De Facto Custodian or an Interested 3rd Party before a court can decide the custody issue.  

grandparents rights in minnesota

Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: Custody – How to Prove You’re a De Facto Custodian…

A De Facto Custodian must establish, by clear and convincing evidence that:

1. He or she has been the child’s primary caregiver, and

2. If the child is under 3, that the child has resided with the grandparent as cargiver for at least 6 months,  or if the child is older than 3, that the child has resided with the grandparent as caregiver for at least 1 year, and

3. The parent has refused or neglected to comply with the duties of the parent-child relationship, like providing food, clothing, shelter, education and promoting the child’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

grandparents rights in minnesota with grandchildren


Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: Custody – How to Prove You’re an Interested 3rd Party…

An Interested 3rd Party must establish, by clear and convincing evidence that:

1. The parent has abandoned, neglected, or exhibited disregard for the child’s well-being to the point that the child would be harmed by living with the parent

2. Physical or emotional danger to the child exceeds the desire to maintain the parent-child relationship or

3. Other extraordinary circumstances exist.

Then, and only when a grandparent has established him/herself as a De Facto Custodian or Interested 3rd Party, can the court decide whether a custody change is in the best interests of the child based on the statutory factors.
grandparents rights in minnesota 3rd party

 Grandparent Rights in Minnesota: Court Cases

In Minnesota, grandparent rights are not on the same level as parent rights. In fact, most grandparents hire a family law attorney because, regardless of the exact issues, grandparents are at a disadvantage when it comes to both custody and parenting time. This is due to the strong presumption that parents should have the most rights when it comes to their children. In addition, navigating a 3rd party custody or visitation situation requires careful attention to the facts of the situation, and following proper procedure to ensure that parental rights are respected while promoting what’s in the best interests of the child. 

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