What Rights Do Alienated Grandparents Have in Minnesota?

Grandparents whose relationships are strained with their own children can often find themselves cut off from their grandchildren. Unfortunately, under Minnesota law, grandparents’ rights are strictly limited. If, for example, your child’s marriage is intact and both spouses agree you should not see their children, the court will not override the parents’ prerogative to prohibit visitation. However, if your grandchild’s family is not intact, the court will inquire as to whether contact with you is in the child’s best interest. If you have a preexisting, affectionate relationship with your child, or other factors weigh in your favor, the court may grant limited visitation rights.

Minnesota law recognizes the following circumstances in which a court can grant grandparent visitation:

  • The grandparent’s child dies. A widowed parent might feel that seeing the grandparents and talking about the deceased parent would be too upsetting for young children. However, the court could find that seeing the grandparents would be healthy and natural for the child and even help the grieving process. If it is in the child’s best interest and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship, the court can order visitation.
  • After a divorce, the custodial parent cuts all ties with the ex-spouse’s family. When grandparents are collateral damage in their child’s divorce, they can petition the court to grant visitation based on a prior relationship of affection and the best interests of the child.
  • After a stepparent adoption. If you your child’s parental rights were terminated to allow a stepparent adoption to take place, you may petition for visitation. The court will consider your character and prior relationship with the child and decide whether visitation is in the child’s best interests.
  • The child is removed from the parents’ home. If the Department of Human Services removes a child due to problems in the home, grandparents can petition for visitation provided the child had lived with them for at least 12 months.

Under certain circumstances, especially if a child is removed from the parents’ home, it may be appropriate for grandparents to seek custody of their grandchild.

If you’d like further information about grandparents’ rights in Minnesota, schedule a free consultation with our family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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