Grandparent Visitation? Other family or friend visitation? What are my rights as a Minnesota citizen to see a loved one’s child?

The primary statute for considering whether the court will grant you parenting time or visitation is Minnesota Statute 257C. There are several different bases upon which the court can grant this visitation: 

First of all, if a parent of an unmarried minor child is deceased, the parents and grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable visitation rights to the minor child. The court needs to find that

visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent child relationship

In making this decision the judge needs to consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent and the child prior to the court case.

Secondly, if there is an existing or pending case for divorce, custody, legal separation, annulment, or parentage, a judge may, upon the request of the parent or grandparent of a party, grant reasonable visitation rights to the unmarried minor child, after the case, if it finds that: (1) visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child; and (2) such visitation would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. Again the judge shall consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the party and the child prior to the application. Afterwards, if a motion for grandparent visitation has been heard and denied, no new motion may be filed within six months.

If an minor has resided with grandparents or great-grandparents for a period of 12 months or more, and is subsequently removed from the home by the minor's parents, in this third scenario the grandparents or great-grandparents may petition the district court for an order granting them reasonable visitation rights to the child during minority. The court shall grant the petition if it finds that visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent and child relationship.

Lastly, if an unmarried minor has resided in a household with a person, other than a foster parent, for two years or more and no longer resides with the person, the person may petition the district court for an order granting the person reasonable visitation rights to the child during the child's minority. The court shall grant the petition if it finds that: (1) visitation rights 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 relationship between the custodial parent and the child. In this scenario the court shall consider the reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.

Hence whether you are entitled to a court order to enforce your visitation rights will depend not only upon the facts but also your role in the child’s life prior to bringing the action.