Grandparent Visitation
- by Eric C. Nelson, Attorney

Generally speaking, the courts expect that grandparents will see their grandchildren during their own child’s parenting time. Unfortunately, there are situations where this doesn’t work, either because the grandparents’ own child is dead or absent, or has had his or her own parenting time severely restricted, or because the grandparents are estranged from their own child, and therefore neither parent is willing to allow visitation.

Fortunately Minnesota has a statutory scheme to allow grandparents to obtain their own court-ordered parenting time in the following situations:
  1. Their own child and parent of their grandchildren is dead; [1]
  2. The grandchild has lived with the grandparents for 12 months or more; [2] OR
  3. The grandchildren’s parents are or in the past have been involved in dissolution, child custody, legal separation, annulment or parentage proceedings involving said grandchildren. [3]
In this last instance, there is no residency requirement. Rather, the grandparents must merely show that grandparent visitation rights would be in the best interests of the children, and would not interfere with the grandchildren’s relationship with their parents.

Obviously the most important consideration here will be the extent and quality of the grandparents relationship with the grandchildren. The more extensive and positive the contact, the more likely it is that grandparent visitation will be awarded.

Footnotes:
  1. Minnesota Statute section 257C.08, Subdivision 1.
  2. Minnesota Statute section 257C.08, Subdivision 3.
  3. Minnesota Statute section 257C.08, Subdivision 2.