Since grandparents’ rights are not covered by federal statutes, each state decides the legal rights and options grandparents have after divorce or other significant family change. In Minnesota, the courts look favorably on providing grandparent visitation when it is in the best interests of the children. The courts carefully examine the family history in determining how best to retain beneficial relationships and provide the child with an environment that encourages healthy growth and maturation.
There are a few reasons the court might place a priority on a grandparent’s visitation request:
- Previous living arrangements: There are numerous reasons why a child might spend time living with a grandparent. If, ultimately, the parents attempt to remove the child from the grandparents, the grandparents can file a request for visitation if the child previously lived with them for at least one year.
- Deceased parent: If the grandparent is the parent of a child’s deceased parent, he or she may seek to obtain legal rights to visitation.
- Adoption: If the individual is the parent of a parent whose rights were terminated through adoption, he or she may seek to obtain legal rights to visitation. In these cases, though, the court has numerous factors to carefully examine.
- Abuse and neglect: It is not uncommon for grandparents to step in and seek custody or visitation when they feel the child is in danger. If there are allegations of abuse, criminal activity, drug use or other harmful actions, the court might act quickly to protect the child.
Visitation After A Divorce
One of the most common causes for concern is when a family faces the reality of divorce. Based on what the court decides in the custody and visitation arrangement of the parents, it can dramatically impact the time the grandparent can spend with the child. However, if the grandparents have developed a nurturing relationship with the child prior to the divorce, the courts will likely attempt to protect that relationship.
In any event, it is critical that grandparents fight for their rights. Discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney to gain an insight to your legal options and learn more about your best course of action.