When most people picture adoption, they imagine new parents meeting and getting to know kids for the first time. In reality, however, many adults are strongly bonded to the children in their lives long before they undergo the adoption process. Making such relationships official can provide a greater sense of stability while also granting a variety of legal rights and responsibilities.
While most Minnesota custody proceedings involve birth parents, third parties occasionally play a role in this process. Generally, Minnesota courts emphasize the best interests of the child, which include maintaining strong relationships with both parents. In select circumstances, traditional parental custody might not be ideal for vulnerable children — particularly if birth parents hold a history of abuse or neglect. In such situations, the custody of a third party such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another adult may be the best option for maintaining the health and emotional wellbeing of the child in question.
Grandparents may be valued members of Minnesota families, but many are surprised to discover their rights restricted when the parents of their grandchildren divorce, separate, or pass away. Visitation is by no means guaranteed, but Minnesota grandparents can petition local courts for the right to spend time with their grandchildren. When determining custody and visitation rights, Minnesota courts emphasize children’s best interests. Courts will not award visitation if time spent with grandparents is deemed potentially harmful for children already suffering the fallout of divorce. When visitation is clearly in the child’s best interests, however, such arrangements are well within reach.
A criminal record can make it difficult to find employment and housing in Minnesota. Thankfully, the state provides a process for limiting access to criminal history. Known as expungement, this option involves the sealing of specific court records. As local courts emphasize, expunged records are not destroyed. Police officers and other public officials retain access after records have been expunged. However, expungement remains a valuable option for Minnesota residents in search of a fresh start.