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Minnesota law helps to preserve grandparent’s rights

Divorce usually goes hand-in-hand with heated emotions. It is not uncommon for both sides engaged in a divorce to participate in petty acts against the adverse party merely out of spite. Perhaps one of the most unfortunate consequences of these disputes is the alienation of children involved in the divorce from their grandparents.

Minnesota law generally contemplates that grandparents will see their grandchildren during the visitation times allotted to their own children. In other words, grandparents are expected to piggyback their visitation on that of the scheduled custodial parent. However, the sad reality is that in some cases, grandparents no longer maintain relationships with their own children, thereby forfeiting their ability to see their grandchildren.

In other situations, the grandparent's own child may have died or is otherwise absent (incarcerated). Still, other, more contentious cases occur when the parent of the party adverse to the grandparent's child behaves vindictively and refuses to allow the grandchildren to spend time with their grandparents.

The good news for grandparents who want to see their grandchildren is that Minnesota law currently contains provisions that ensure grandparents rights under certain conditions.

Grandparents can petition the court for their own court ordered parenting time under the following conditions:

-- The grandparent's own child is deceased.

-- The grandchild has resided with the grandparents for at least 12 months.

-- The parents of the grandchildren are actively engaged or have previously been engaged in a dissolution, child custody dispute, legal separation, annulment or other legal action to determine parentage.

Of course, the court will always make a determination based on what it believes to be in the grandchildren's best interest. Therefore, grandparents seeking visitation and custody rights of their grandchildren would be well served by gathering up photographs, receipts, gifts, and other documentation or items that demonstrate a prior history of stable, non-violent, nurturing relationships with their grandchildren.

Source: The Office of the Revisor of Statutes, "2013 Minnesota Statutes 257C.08 Rights of Visitation to unmarried persons" Jul. 30, 2014

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