In Minnesota, there is a statute designed to give grandparents the right to remain active participants in their grandchildrens’ lives, as well as request explicit visitation or custodial rights. When looking at the grandparent’s request, the court examines the relationship between the child and their grandparents, as well as the role the grandparents have had in the child’s life over time.

If you’re fighting for the right to see your grandchild, we can help. Our Minnesota family law attorneys defend grandparent’s rights by helping you bring a motion to court and request visitation or parenting time with your grandchildren.

It is common for family members such as grandparents to become very important people in children’s lives. Sometimes when a couple with children decides to separate, it is unfortunate that grandparents may miss out on spending time with the children because the family, as a unit, changes drastically.

Grandparents’ Rights in MN: Key Points

  • Minnesota law generally favors the idea that grandparents should have some visitation rights when it comes to a minor or incapacitated person with whom they have an existing relationship. The default assumption is that grandparents will visit with minors during their child’s (the minor’s parents) parental times.

  • In cases where current parental authority or another family member is restricting or preventing contact with grandparents, Minnesota law outlines the potential to request “reasonable visitation rights” in family court. The court may find that reasonable visitation is appropriate when it is in the child’s best interests.

  • In cases where grandparents believe they should become a minors legal custodian, including full or partial custody, they are considered “interested third parties” in the eyes of the court.

Grandparents hanging out with their grandchild

Interested Third Party Custody Explained

If your child has passed, is incarcerated, and/or you’re are being denied access to your grandchildren for any reason, you may petition the court for parenting time as if you were the parent of the child. The court allows grandparents to seek visitation rights as an Interested Third Party.

A grandparent can bring a motion for custody of the minor child as an Interested Third Party if, for whatever reason, a child’s parents are unable to provide the attention and care the child requires.

Under this proceeding, a grandparent may seek legal custody, physical custody, or parenting time with the minor child.

There must be a significant and substantial relationship between the minor child and the Interested Third Party before a petition for custody and/or parenting time is brought. In such a proceeding, the court typically compares the competing interests involved between the parties (for example, a biological parent versus the Interested Third Party).

Because third parties are involved, the legal situation can be complex. Minnesota courts are cognizant of the parent’s biological relationship with their children; yet, the court has to balance the child’s welfare, emotional and physical safety and any other special circumstances when it comes to these proceedings. An interested third party has the burden of proof to show that certain factors are met, such as abandonment, neglect, disregard for the child’s well-being, physical or emotional danger, or other extraordinary circumstances.

While earning their recognition in court can pose significant challenges, grandparent rights in Minnesota are firmly established under law. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that you remain active in your grandchildren’s lives, or even take the place of the biological parents, if necessary.

Delegation of Parental Authority: What and Why?

A Delegation of Parental Authority (DOPA, sometimes called a “parental authority form”) is a document that lets someone else – frequently a grandparent or sibling – take care of your children when you can’t. The person to whom you give this permission is called an “Attorney-in-Fact”, and it does come with some limitations.

A DOPA lets someone else make decisions about a child’s care, custody, and property and is recognized by the Minnesota family court. It is a temporary parental authority delegation used most commonly when a parent or guardian will be out of state for business, is at risk of going to jail or being deported, or during temporary medical stays.

A DOPA does not eliminate parental powers or a parent/legal guardian’s rights to make decisions for their children. You or the other parent may override any decisions made by the Attorney-in-Fact.

Someone with a DOPA can take a child to the doctor for medical treatment or excuse a child from school, but a DOPA does not allow the Attorney-in-Fact to make larger life decisions like allowing adoption.

Each child requires their own DOPA.

What is Parental Authority?

Parental authority refers to the set of rights and responsibilities that parents have concerning the care, custody, and upbringing of their children. This concept encompasses a broad range of areas related to the child’s well-being and development, including decision-making rights, education, moral or religious upbringing, and sometimes physical custody.

What is a Professional Guardian?

A professional guardian is an individual or entity that is appointed by a court to act as a guardian for a minor or someone who is unable to manage their own affairs due to incapacity. This incapacity might arise from age, illness, disability, or other conditions that prevent the person (often referred to as the “ward”) from making decisions regarding their own health, finances, or other aspects of their life.

Professional guardianship is most common when there is no suitable family member or friend available or willing to take on the role of guardian or temporary custodian, or in situations where a neutral third party is deemed necessary due to family conflicts or safety. Like all guardians, professional guardians are expected to act in the best interests of their wards and are held to a fiduciary standard of care.

At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Minnesota?

Until the child is no longer a minor, the court will consider the child’s preferences and best interests, but ultimately can uphold visitation rights.

In other words, the child’s preference is considered but is not determinative. Even if a child expresses a preference not to visit a parent, the court may still order visitation if it determines that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

Need Legal Guidance as a Grandparent? Call Alithis Family Law Today

At Alithis Family Law, we take pride in helping clients navigate grandparents rights issues or custodial situations with wisdom and care. Reach out today for a free consultation — call our office at (952) 800-2025 or contact us by email at

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