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Third-Party Custody

Solutions for Unique Situations

All families are unique, and so are the circumstances and individuals involved with the upbringing of a child. In Minnesota, a third-party custody action is a court proceeding by which a third party (or nonparent) seeks to obtain custody or visitation rights to a child. Custody rights include physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the right to control the routine daily care and residence of the child. Legal custody refers to the right to determine the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training. The custody attorneys at Arnold & Rodman PA can assist you in finding an effective solution while pursuing or defending against a Minnesota third-party custody action.

Third-Party Custody in Minnesota

Under Minnesota law, third-party custody proceedings typically arise under extraordinary circumstances where biological parents may be deceased or otherwise unable to provide care for their child, and/or where a child has been abandoned, abused, or neglected. As part of a third-party custody proceeding, the court may determine:

  • Legal custody of a minor child, whether sole or joint
  • Child's physical custody and residence
  • Parenting time or visitation
  • Child support

Third-Party Visitation in Minnesota

Minnesota law provides that the court may grant visitation rights to third parties in exceptional circumstances. The purpose of this law is to focus on the best interests and needs of the child, not on the desires or wishes of the third party. Minnesota law provides that the following persons may qualify for visitation rights:

  • Parents or grandparents of a deceased parent
  • Grandparent or great-grandparent of a child involved in a family court proceeding
  • Grandparents or great-grandparents of a child who has resided with them for a period of twelve months or more
  • An individual other than a foster parent, with whom the child has resided for two years or more and has developed emotional ties

There may also be a separate common law basis for third-party visitation, which can include siblings of the child and persons who have acted as a parent to the child. In granting visitation to a third party, the court will consider:

  • The child’s best interests, which may include the reasonable preference of the child, if of sufficient age to express a preference
  • Whether there will be interference with the custodial parent-child relationship
  • Amount of personal contact between applicant and child prior to application