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When to file a grandparents’ rights petition

Being a grandparent is something many people look forward to as they grow older. Children are full of wonder and joy, and most grandparents find that their own lives are enriched simply by being around their grandkids. Unfortunately, the precious relationship between a grandparent and grandchild can be jeopardized if the child's parents decide to split.

As discussed in a previous blog posting, Minnesota grandparents reserve the right to petition the court to grant them access to their grandchildren. However, the law also states that the grandparents' petitions for visitation rights can only be filed during or after some manner of court proceedings regarding the divorce such as separation, custody, annulment or paternity of the child's parents.

For some grandparents, this posed a serious dilemma because today, an increasing number of young people are forgoing official divorce proceedings and simply going their own separate ways. This problem was made even more difficult when the parents of the child were unmarried.

Fortunately, a landmark 2013 Minnesota case, Christianson v. Henke, now makes it easier for grandparents to file their petition for visitation rights. The Henke case centered on whether a grandparent could file a petition where the child's parents had not engaged in any court proceedings. The court in the Henke case found that a document called a Recognition of Parentage had been signed by both parents shortly after the birth of their child. The court then determined that the ROP was sufficient to qualify as a court proceeding and therefore, allowed the grandparent's petition to go forward.

Minnesota grandparents who wish to file their petition for visitation should know that once filed, the petition cannot be refiled for a period of six months. That is why it is important to prepare a compelling petition the first time. This should be one that outlines your historically beneficial relationship with your grandchild and how the termination of that relationship might adversely affect your grandchild.

Our firm is experienced in grandparents' rights law and stands ready to assist you if you are interested in exploring your rights and options.

Source: divorceminnesota.com, "Minnesota law helps to preserve grandparent’s rights" Sep. 03, 2014

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