Grandparent Visitation Clarified

8/4/2011

The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently clarified the bounds of grandparent visitation in its decision in the case of In re the minor child C.D.G.D. v. Darst.

Minnesota has long recognized a statutory right for grandparents to petition the Court for visitation with their grandchildren. See Minn. Stat. §257C.08, subd. 1. That right, however, has been limited by judicial decisions. The United States Supreme Court has required that the trial court give presumptive deference to a custodial parents' decision regarding access to his or her children. A grandparent must also prove by clear and convincing evidence that grandparent access would not interfere with the parent child relationship.

The exact type of schedule that a grandparent might receive had not been clear prior to C.D.G.D. In overruling the trial court decision granting expansive grandparent rights, the Court of Appeals made it quite clear that a grandparent should not be treated in the same fashion as a noncustodial parent in calculating the amount of visitation. Thus, a regular alternating schedule similar to one that would be awarded in a typical divorce scenario would be clearly excessive in a grandparent visitation case.

View the opinion of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

If you have questions on visitation rights, contact Marc Johannsen at marc@lommen.com or 612-336-9302.