In the Twin Cities area, it is common for grandparents to rely on the law to make sure they are involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Grandparents feel a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their grandchildren, as watching grandkids grow up to be healthy adults is something that gives a great deal of pleasure.
Fortunately, Minnesota is a state that has grandparents’ rights laws so that grandparents can ensure they are able to watch their grandkids grow, but even gives grandparents the right to petition for custody if the need arises.
Minnesota law also allows for grandparent visitation, which means a grandparent can be given the legally enforceable right to see their grandchild. If grandparents are kept away from the grandchildren, they have the right to ask the court for visitation of their minor grandchild as long as the parent of the child (the grandparents’ child) is deceased, the parents of the child are divorced, or the child has resided with the grandparents for a year or more and was later removed from the home by the parents.
If the Minnesota court finds that grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child and that such visitation will not interfere with the child’s relationship with their parents, visitation can be granted. When making this decision, the court will consider a number of factors, such as previous contact with the child, what the child wants, and anything else the court feels is relevant.
There are times when the grandparent may feel that custody is not enough. Custody involves legally managing the child’s everyday activities, as well as making decisions for the child. In Minnesota, grandparents may seek custody if the grandparent has had de facto custody or the grandparent can show that the child will experience harm if they continue to live with their parents.
De ‘facto custody is when the child has lived with the grandparent for a certain amount of time, while the parent has not actively participated in the child’s life. The court will look at why the parent is absent, how involved the parent is with the child, and why the parents placed the child with the grandparent in the first place.
Meeting the definition of a de facto custodian or seeking custody as an interested third party is just the first challenge when seeking custody. The priority of the court is what is in the best interest of the child. The grandparents will only be able to secure a favorable custody decision if they are able to show the court that there is good reason for them to seek custody.