Determining the best interests of a child in Minnesota is not limited to a parent’s custody and participation in their lives. State law also grants grandparent visitation after divorces, under certain circumstances.
A minor child’s grandparent may petition a court for visitation rights if the child lived with the grandparent for at least one year and the child’s parents removed the child from the home. A court must grant the grandparent’s petition seeking visitation if it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that visitation rights would be in the child’s best interest. Also, visitation cannot interfere with the relationship between the child and the parent.
Courts, while addressing the child’s best interest, place emphasis on encouraging the continuation of a lasting bond between the grandparent and the child. Courts also want to encourage a sense of security for the child.
Courts may review certain facts to determine whether visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship. These include the suitability of the grandparent’s home for visits, the quality of previous visits, whether the child had behavioral problems after visits with their grandparents and the amount of proposed time for visitation.
Last summer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an unpublished decision reversing a lower court ruling that additional visits by the grandmother of her two grandchildren was not in their best interest and would interfere with their relationship with their father. It found that her visits did not interfere with the children’s relationship with their father because there was insufficient evidence that she criticized their father, the grandmother provided a stable and secure environment when the father and children lived with her, there was no evidence that the grandmother would not discipline the children and that the grandmother played an important role in their lives.
Source: Minnesota Court of Appeals, “Hansen v. Hanson, A14-1063 (Minn. Ct. of Appeals, July 13, 2015)(Unpublished),” Accessed Feb. 8, 2016