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Can visitation rights be granted to non-parents in Minnesota?

When parents in Minnesota are no longer together as a couple, one of the most contentious issues that arises often has to do with visitation rights. Other situations can muddle this even further such as grandparents' rights or the rights of others to see the child. State law grants visitation rights to people who are not the parent of the child in certain circumstances. Understanding how the law handles this is an important factor in maintaining the relationship with children.

In the event that a parent is deceased, that parent's parents and grandparents will have the right to ask for visitation with a child if the district court finds that it is in the child's best interests and will not interfere with the relationship of the child and the remaining parent. The relationship before the application will be taken into consideration. If there is a court case regarding a divorce, custody, legal separation, parentage or any other similar circumstance, there will be visitation rights to a non-parent if they are in the best interests of the child and it does not interfere with the parent-child relationship. If a grandparent has sought visitation rights and they were denied, there cannot be another filing for six months.

If the child has lived with the grandparents or great-grandparents for a minimum of 12 months and is removed from that home by the parents, the grandparents or great-grandparents can petition for an order to grant them reasonable visitation rights. It will be granted if it is found to be in the child's best interests. A child who has lived with others apart from a foster parent and the duration has been for two years or longer, the person can request visitation if: it is in the child's best interests; there was an emotional tie; and the visitation does not interfere with the relationship between parent and child. If the child is old enough, his or her preference will be considered.

This law will not be applicable if the child was adopted by someone other than a stepparent or grandparent. The grandparent of a child who was adopted by a stepparent has the right to see the child if the grandparent is the parent of a deceased parent of the child or is the parent of a parent whose parental relationship with the child was ended by an adoption. These visitation situations come up quite frequently. When they do, having a lawyer who is experienced in custody arrangements and visitation rights for non-parents is wise.

Source: revisor.mn.gov, "257C.08 Rights of Visitation to Unmarried Persons.," accessed on Nov. 7, 2016

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