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Grandparents may petition court to allow them visit grandkids

Many Minnesotan grandparents have found it difficult to maintain a meaningful relationship with their grandchildren. This may be especially true in cases where the children's parents have divorced, and the children are living with someone who is no longer a blood relative of the grandparents. Because of spite, disinterest or some other reason, the parent may not respect the grandparents' visitation rights.

In these cases, grandparents may petition a Minnesota family law court for an order which allows them to visit their grandchildren. The process typically requires testimony from both parties, as well as other witnesses. In some cases, it may require testimony from the child's counselor.

Courts can grant grandparents visitation orders against the wishes of the parents, but only when they determine that the visits would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the relationship between the parent and the child. Courts will often decline to give such an order if the grandparent has a history of sexually abusing children or had a history of substance abuse or dangerous behavior. In some cases, when the relationship between the grandparent and the parent is especially contentious, the court may decide that visitation would be damaging to the child and the parent-child relationship.

Minnesota law places a lot of importance on the parent-child relationship, but grandparents do have rights as well. Minnesota grandparents who feel they are being shut out of their grandchildren's lives should get help understanding the applicable laws and their legal options. Petitioning for a court order isn't always the best option, and may be a last resort, but it is an important option for Minnesota residents who want to have a relationship with their grandchildren.

Source: The Post Review, "Grandparents' visitation rights," Judge Steve Halsey, May 30, 2013

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