It Takes the Whole Family to Raise a Whole Child

It takes a village to raise a child, the old adage goes. Many families adhere to this idea where a child has no shortage of loving family members contributing to the love, care, and support of the child, whether it be occasional visits and phone calls, periodic overnight visits, or even taking the child in for day-to-day care for a period of time. So it comes as no surprise that as families change, adjust, break apart or move on, the parents are not the only people searching for answers as to when and how to continue their relationship with the child and see and spend time with the child. A change in family circumstances that removes the child from their lives can pose great heartache and difficulty for grandparents and other relatives looking to spend time with the child that they have loved and helped bring up. Minnesota law has made great strides in understanding the complexity and involvement of many parties in a child’s life and have made allowance for that to continue even in the face of divorce or major changes in family life.

For grandparents of a child of divorce, or grandparents that have had a child live with them for at least one year, the grandparents on their own, or through one of the parents, can ask the Court to specifically grant them visitation with the minor child. If granted, the grandparents would have the opportunity for their own guaranteed visitation with the child, not just waiting for one of the parents to bring the child over to visit. To be granted visitation rights, the grandparents must show that (1) the visitation would be in the best interests of the child; and (2) the visitation would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. Practically speaking, this means that the grandparents must show that spending time with them will be good and beneficial for the child, and that the grandparents are not going to speak negatively about one of the parents or cause problems for one of the parents with the child. The frequency and length of any scheduled visitation will depend mostly on the circumstances of the parties including, but not limited to, proximity of the parties, past history of time spent together, relationship of the parents with the grandparents, and age of the child.

For other relatives, if a child has resided with a relative for two years or more, that relative can ask the Court to grant them visitation with the minor child. To do so, the relative must prove that (1) the visitation would be in the best interests of the child; (2) the petitioner and child had established emotional ties creating a parent and child relationship; and (3) visitation rights would not interfere with the custodial parent of the child. This is the same standard as that for grandparents with the additional requirement that the relative show that a deep relationship has been formed between them and the child. This is of course a difficult standard to prove in a courtroom. However, such relative can help illustrate the relationship with the child by bringing pictures of events done with the child and significant periods in the child’s life that the relative was present, proof of periods of the child living with them, positive changes in the child’s life while living with the relative, and other such proof.

If it comes to the point where a family member has to go to court to be a part of the life of a child they love, obviously the parents probably object to such visitation, and the Court is going to seriously consider those objections. However, if you are a relative hoping to gain visitation with a child, you can start your journey by gathering proof of your relationship and history with the child, and then call our office for a consultation.


If seeing your grandchild is important and you want to know your options, call Kristine Zajac at 612-789-2300 for a no-charge phone consultation.