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Can grandparents get custody of at-risk children in Minnesota?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2023 | Family Law

Being a grandparent is one of life’s greatest rewards, but sometimes their joy is marred by fear and concern for the grandkids. Their own parents may be unable to care for them properly, leaving grandparents wondering what they can do about the matter.

First, if you fear your grandchildren are in immediate danger, call 911 to get help for them. Once they are safe, you can focus on arranging a permanent or long-term solution, perhaps assuming legal custody yourself.

Here are two ways grandparents can pursue child custody under Minnesota law.

De facto custodian

If the child resides with you and you have been their primary caregiver for a substantial period, you can seek custody rights as a de facto custodian by meeting these requirements.

  • Acted as primary caregiver for a child three or younger for at least six months (need not be consecutive)
  • Acted as primary caregiver for a child older than three for at least one year (need not be consecutive)

Further, the parents must not have demonstrably participated in caring for the child in the months preceding your custody request.

Interested third party

If your grandkids live with their parents or someone else, you can try filing for custody as an interested third party. Generally, you must show that the children could suffer harm without a change of custody. For example, parental neglect or disregard for the child’s well-being may be grounds for a third-party custody petition.

Child custody cases are complex because courts must ensure their decisions serve the children’s best interests. Legal support and guidance may help you present a well-planned and organized case, potentially increasing your chances of success.