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Relative Caregivers Custody

Washington County Family Law Attorneys Guide Relative Caregivers Through the Custody Minefield

Providing experienced counsel to families and individuals in Washington County, Dakota County, Burnsville, Stillwater and Woodbury, MN

Minnesota law recognizes that parents are sometimes unable or unwilling to care for their child and decide to entrust the care of the child to a relative. Grandparents’ rights are set out in the Minnesota statutes, but other family members’ rights are not directly addressed. Though the law is complicated, there are steps you can take as a relative to become the legal guardian of the child you’ve been caring for. You can even ask the court to order the parents to pay child support. At Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., we find innovative solutions to family law issues.

Who can seek guardianship of a child?

In Minnesota, a guardian is someone who is appointed by the court to make the personal decisions for a protected person (a “ward”). The guardian has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the ward about important issues such as housing, medical care and education. In the case of children, a guardianship case is essentially a third party custody case. These cases are often fueled by allegations of abuse or neglect by one or both of the child’s biological parents.

If you are a family member who has been the primary caregiver of a child, you may fit the definition of a de facto custodian — that is, someone other than a parent who has been the child’s primary caretaker for an extended period of time. If the child hasn’t already been placed with you through a court order, consent decree or voluntary placement agreement, you can file a petition asking the court to name you the legal guardian of the child.

What is considereddeprivation?

Deprivation on the part of a parent or legal custodian can support a claim for guardianship. Deprivation of a child is any action or inaction that harms a child’s physical, mental or emotional health. Acts of deprivation include:

  • Willfully depriving a child of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare or supervision when the parent is able to provide for the child
  • Knowingly permitting the continuing physical or sexual abuse of a child
  • Knowingly endangering the child by:
    • Intentionally or recklessly allowing a child to be placed in a situation likely to harm the child’s physical, mental or emotional health or cause the child’s death
    • Knowingly allowing the child to be present where illegal drugs are being sold, manufactured or possessed
  • Intentionally or recklessly exposing a child younger than 14 to harm or death by allowing the child to have access to a loaded firearm

If you believe the parents of a child who is under your care have subjected the child to any of these situations, consult a knowledgeable family law attorney in Minnesota to discuss your options for gaining custody or guardianship rights.

Call our attorneys if you want custody of the child you take care of

At Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., we find innovative solutions to family law issues. Consult our knowledgeable family law attorneys to discuss your options for gaining custody or guardianship rights in Minnesota. We represent clients throughout Minnesota, including in Washington County, Dakota County, Burnsville, Eagan and Woodbury, MN. Call 651-379-3024 today or contact us online to arrange an appointment. Consultations are free, and flexible scheduling is available.

Our Attorneys
Client testimonials
  • "Tori had a thorough understanding of my situation and made excellent recommendations to resolve my concerns. She was persistent on communication and handled everything in a very timely manner. I would definitely hire her again in the future if needed." - M.K.

  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.


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