The holiday season will soon be upon us. This is a time of year that is filled with traditions such as holiday baking, special meals, gift giving, decorating, and gatherings of family and friends. As you reflect on the holidays you enjoyed as a youth, do memories of spending time with your grandparents make you smile?
For some families today, sharing time over the holidays may not be possible due to various family circumstances. One provision in Minnesota law may help some families spend quality time together during the holiday season: grandparent visitation.
Historically, grandparents had no right to maintain a relationship with a grandchild if the child’s parents objected to such a relationship. Under certain circumstances, however, grandparent visitation is now provided for in Minnesota Statute.
First, in cases where the parent of a minor child is deceased, the parents and grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable visitation rights to the minor child even over the objection of the surviving parent. Grandparent (or great-grandparent) visitation may be awarded when a) the minor child is not married, b) the grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the minor child, and c) the grandparent visitation would not interfere with the child’s relationship with the surviving parent. Courts have broad discretion in determining what the appropriate visitation schedule is with the minor child and must consider the amount of personal contact the child has had with the grandparents in the past.
Second, even in certain cases where both parents are living, grandparents may petition the Court for visitation rights with their grandchildren. The grandparent visitation may not interfere with the parent-child relationship, and the paramount concern for the Court is always what is in the best interests of the minor child.
The child and grandparent relationship is a special one. The grandparent visitation statute may help protect this bond.