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Minnesota Supreme Court to hear grandmother's custody dispute

Most child custody disputes are between parents, but in Minnesota a grandmother is fighting for sole custody of her two granddaughters. What is of interest in the case is that the grandmother is fighting for custody not from the children's parents but from the foster parents of the children who were assigned by a Hennepin County court judge. The grandmother lost the child custody case in two Minnesota courts and has now appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

In the case, the parents of the children had terminated their parental rights because of their chemical dependency and expected that the children's parental grandmother would get sole physical custody of the children. It is the policy of the foster care system to preference relatives over strangers, but the children were placed in foster care with an unrelated family where they remain today.

The foster parents are now seeking permanent custody through adoption proceedings. They have even suggested to the grandmother that they would allow her visitation rights if she drops her objection to their claim for permanent custody. The grandmother has refused to do so and has challenged the order of the lower court, arguing that according to precedent and foster care policy, children should be placed in the custody of relatives if the relatives are willing and able to take them instead of nonrelated foster care parents. Hennepin County had previously certified that she and her home are suitable for the care of the children. The grandmother also contends that the foster parents have violated the rules of foster care by changing at least one of the children's legal names.

The Supreme Court has yet to hear the contested child custody case and render its judgment. People involved in such custody cases must be aware of their rights under the law of the state, which can be complex, particularly when grandparents' rights and foster care issues are involved.

Source: Twin Cities Daily Planet, "Grandmother's fight for her grandchildren reaches the state Supreme Court" Harry Colbert, Jr, Dec. 20, 2012

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