Losing a child to an accident or illness can be a traumatic experience for a parent, regardless of the age of the unfortunate victim. It is a sad fact that in some cases when an adult child dies it can be difficult for his parents to maintain contact with the deceased child's children. The relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is very special; the state of Minnesota's laws include several provisions that seek to protect this bond in the event that death, divorce or other life events threaten to impact it.
When an unmarried parent dies, the victim's parents may seek reasonable visitation with the decedent's child. The visitation must serve the best interests of the child subject to the request and the court will consider the relationship between the grandparents, surviving parent and grandchild before deciding if and how visitation should be granted.
Additionally, grandparents can request reasonable visitation with their grandchildren when their child divorces from his or her spouse. A divorce can drive a rift through a family that impacts individuals beyond the separating partners; in some cases divorce may cut off the relationship between a child and his grandparents. As with the death of an unmarried parent, a court will look at all of the relationships of the family before allowing a grandparent to secure visitation rights with his or her grandchild.
There are a variety of different scenarios that may lead to a grandparent wishing to enforce his legal rights to spend time with his or her grandchild, and individual cases should be discussed with one's family law attorney. This post, nor any of the other articles included on this Twin Cities family law blog, should be read as legal advice. The information contained herein is offered as an introduction to a complicated area of visitation and custody law.