Divorce and child custody are legal matters that affect people besides the immediate family. Grandparents’ lives can also be upset by divorce, particularly when it negatively impacts their relationships with their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent and worried that you will no longer be able to see your grandchildren after a divorce, parental death, separation or adoption, you should know what legal remedies are available.

Requesting grandparent visitation

Per Minnesota laws, grandparents may seek visitation with an unmarried minor grandchild under specific circumstances. Such circumstances include:

  • Death of the child’s parent
  • Divorce of child’s parents
  • Adoption by stepparent
  • Parentage proceedings

Grandparents may also request visitation if the grandchild lived with them for 12 consecutive months.

In some situations, grandparents may even pursue custody of an unmarried minor grandchild. Such may be the case if a grandparent believes his or her own child is unable to provide adequate care for the grandchild.

Note that if the parent’s rights are terminated and someone besides a grandparent or stepparent adopts the grandchild/ren, any rights the grandparent has to visitation would also be terminated. In other words, a grandparent would not be able to seek visitation of a grandchild adopted by another party.

Protecting the child’s best interests

Granting grandparents visitation or custody is not something the courts take lightly. Before doing so, the courts must determine if doing so is in the best interests of the child.

The courts consider several factors, including:

  • The existing relationship between grandchild and grandparent
  • The amount of contact a grandparent has previously had with the grandchild
  • The relationship between the parents and grandparents
  • Whether granting visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship

Based on these factors, the courts may award visitation, or deny the request. If the courts deny the motion, grandparents may not file another motion for the next six months.

Finding solutions for difficult cases

Situations involving grandparent visitation and custody can be very upsetting. Often, they are the result of events like death, divorce, or concerns regarding a grandchild’s welfare. Considering the emotions involved and the complexity of the law, legal representation is often necessary. We are here to help. Call for a consult with attorney David K. Meier.