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Determining grandparents’ rights and a child’s best interests

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2018 | Family Law

It can sometimes be challenging for members of many Minnesota families to spend time together. This is especially true after a divorce or when there are unhealthy family dynamics. While it is very common for parents to sort out issues of co-parenting, custody and visitation in the courtroom, these issues typically involve grandparents much less often. However, grandparents’ rights are an emerging and rapidly developing area of the law.

Rules about grandparents’ rights vary from state to state. In every jurisdiction, the best interests of the child is the determining factor for custody and visitation. In Minnesota, visitation rights can be granted in certain circumstances such as in the death of a parent. Grandparents’ rights often prove invaluable to a child’s best interests and ensuring that family relationships are protected.

Grandparent custody versus visitation

If you are a grandparent who wishes to be in your grandchild’s life, you can participate in a variety of ways. Visitation rights are generally easier to obtain than custody rights. While a court can help you arrange to see your grandchild from time to time, you will need to prove that the parents are not capable of caring for the child to obtain custody.

Factors that determine a child’s best interests

The standard “best interests of the child” is somewhat vague. Courts have narrowed down what they mean by best interests over the years. Many elements go into determining your grandchild’s best interests. These can include:

  • Physical and emotional health of the child
  • Safety and well-being of the child
  • The wishes of the parents and grandparents
  • The wishes of the child
  • The strength and length of the grandparent’s relationship to the child
  • Evidence of any type of abuse from the grandparents
  • The grandparents ability to care for the child

Reaching an agreement

In an ideal situation, you and the family will be able to talk it over and independently reach an agreement for grandparent visitation or custody. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Other options include mediation and petitioning the court. If you believe that the child is in danger of abuse or neglect, you can present evidence to that fact and possibly be granted custody.

Navigating grandparents’ rights with help

Since the laws surrounding grandparents’ rights are relatively new and are often changing, it may not immediately be clear what your rights are or what kind of visitation you are likely to get. If you have tried to negotiate with the child’s parents and have been unsuccessful, you could potentially benefit from professional support and assistance.

By acquiring legal counsel with experience and knowledge in this area of the law, you can receive answers to all of your questions and concerns, and increase the odds of reaching a custody or visitation agreement that works for your family while protecting the best interests of the children.

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