VI. VISITATION OF CHILDREN BY THIRD PARTIES
A grandparent or great-grandparent may obtain an order allowing visitation with his or her grandchild or great-grandchild under these circumstances:
- When the parent is deceased;
- In family court proceedings (dissolution, custody, legal separation, annulment, or parentage) after the commencement of the proceeding or at any time after completion of the proceedings;
- When a child has resided with grandparents or great-grandparents for one year or more and is subsequently removed from the home by the child's parents (other relatives or third parties may be granted visitation rights when the child has resided with them for two years or more);
- When a child is adopted by a step-parent, if the grandparent is the parent of a deceased parent of the child or a parent of a child whose parental relationship was terminated by an order of adoption.
If a child has resided in a household with a person for two years or more, that person may obtain an order of visitation with the child if he or she and the child have established emotional ties creating a parent and child relationship.
The court may only grant visitation rights to a third party in all of the above circumstances if it would be in the child's best interest and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court cannot deny visitation based on an allegation of interference with the parent-child relationship unless it holds a hearing and the parent proves by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that interference would occur. If the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference, it must consider the reasonable preference of the child with regard to visitation.
When a child is adopted by a person other than a step-parent, the child's biological grandparents cannot have visitation rights if the adoptive parents object. However, the grandparent or relative does have the right to enter into a communication agreement at the time of adoption, if he or she lived with the child before adoption or if the child is adopted by a relative and both birth parents are deceased. (See MINN. STAT. § 259.58 for further information.)
It is not necessary to have an attorney to obtain a visitation order, although it is advisable. It is best to find an attorney with experience in family law, particularly visitation issues.