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Grandparents taking on increasing roles in Minnesota families

Many Minnesota grandparents are taking on roles that previous generations reserved mostly for parents. They prepare meals, help out with homework and often serve as primary caregivers to their grandchildren. Statistics show this is becoming an increasingly common practice. According to the U.S. Census, 5.4 million children under age 18 in the United States live in a household headed by a grandparent. At the same time, many grandparents feel that the law has failed to fully respect grandparents' rights with regard to their grandchildren.

In some cases, grandparents end up taking care of their children's children because the parents have drug problems or are incarcerated. In others, grandparents just help out because they want to. In still other cases, grandparents care for the children until the parents divorce or remarry, when one of the parents suddenly tells the grandparents that they are no longer welcome in their grandchildren's lives.

Minnesota laws provide that grandparents may request visitation rights if they are being denied the chance to see their grandchildren. Minnesota also allows for grandparents to file for third party custody when the parents are unable or unfit to provide care for the children.

In all these cases, Minnesota courts make their decision based upon what they consider to be the best interests of the child. One factor they will consider in determining visitation time is the quality of the relationship the grandparent enjoyed with the children in the past.

Grandparents' rights cases can be emotionally difficult. When Minnesota grandparents have to take legal action to be able to see or care for their grandchildren, it's important that they have help from professionals who understand the issues at work in their cases and have a deep understanding of their concerns.

Source: Northwest Herald, "Grandparents take on changing role," Stephen DiBenedetto, Oct. 18, 2013

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