Minnesota's Family Law Blog

Can Grandparents Get Custody?

Grandparent Rights In Minnesota

One of my most popular topics is grandparent visitation (which can be read here).  Let me start by saying the quick answer to that question is: it’s hard.

Grandparent Custody

Under the law a grandparent in Minnesota can get custody but it’s hard, and it’s supposed to be hard.  Grandparents are not viewed the same as a parent they can’t step in and say the child would be better off with them than mom and dad.  Instead, the grandparent must prove that the parents aren’t fit to be parents.  This can be for a variety of reasons, drug use, physical abuse, sexual  abuse or serious  mental illness.  But it’s hard to prove.

Grandparent Visitation

Getting visitation is a different story and much easier.  If the grandparents have an established relationship they can request that the court order visitation but two things must be proven:  1) That grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest AND 2) that the visitation will not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

How to Obtain Grandparent Visitation?

First and foremost this is not a DIY case.  Some cases are easily doable without an attorney (child support or very simple divorce) but this is not one of them.  There are no forms to download, no free website to download the various documents or samples.  This is hard and fairly complex litigation that if you don’t have an attorney, well the odds of succeeding are very, very low.

What is first required is to file either a motion or a petition (it’s case specific) you’ll get a hearing date about a month or so out where generally an ICMC will be held  (Initial Case Management Conference).  Then there is the chance for mediation and early neutral evaluation.  If all that fails then it will proceed to an evidentiary hearing also known as a trial.  This is real trial where the rules of evidence will be used and it will be very formal.  There are no shortcuts here, no quick letter to the Judge to explain why your grandchild should be with you.  Then the Judge has 90 days to make his or her decision.

Usually, grandparent visitation cases take between 2-10 month and since the next question is what do they cost?  I have to give the normal lawyer answer which is…it depends.  They can be as low as a few thousand dollars or up to $10,000 if you end up going to trial.  That coupled with the damage to the relationship makes it a very serious case and one that you can’t go into lightly.

Information obtained in mankatofamilylaw.com may contain knowledgeable content about Minnesota Family Law that may be considered beneficial to some; however, in no way should this website or its contents be considered legal advice. Mr. Kohlmeyer is a Minnesota licensed Attorney and cannot provide legal services or guidance to those outside of Minnesota. If you wish to retain Mr. Kohlmeyer as your Attorney in your Family Law matter, contact 507-205-9736.

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Comments 1
  1. Grandparents should always be the next port of call if the natural parents are unable to care for the children in my view. They should be looked at first before adoption is considered. But then some of these families have generations of broken lives and perhaps the cycle needs to be broken?

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