Grandparents Lack Standing to Claim Visitation

Elder Law Answers case summary.The State of Minnesota Court of Appeals holds that grandparents lack standing to assert visitation rights as the children never lived with them, no family court proceeding exists in which they could intervene, and they never acted in loco parentis. In Greshowak v. Greshowak (Minn. Ct. App. No. 19HA-FA-22-209 August 14, 2023).

Following a dispute, Laura and Adam Greshowak prevented their children’s paternal grandparents, Thomas and Jamie Greshowak, from seeing them. The grandparents took legal action seeking visitation rights and challenged the constitutionality of Minnesota’s grandparent visitation statute.

The district court granted the parents’ motion to dismiss for lack of standing because the grandparents met none of the elements of Minnesota’s grandparent visitation statute, section 257C.08: no family court proceeding existed in which the grandparents could intervene, and the children never lived with the grandparents. The court also found no common law grounds for visitation and rejected the constitutional argument.

The grandparents appealed. The appellate court considers whether the grandparents have standing under Minnesota’s grandparent visitation statute. The statute confers grandparent visitation rights when the parents are dead, a family court proceeding exists, or the child has lived with the grandparents. Grandparents must prove the visitation is in the child’s best interests and will not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

Conceding that they do not satisfy any statutory requirement for visitation, the grandparents claim that they have a common law visitation right. In Rohmiller v. Hart, the Minnesota Supreme Court clarified that nonparents only have a common law visitation right when they have stood in loco parentis, a role that the grandparents admit they have never occupied.

Dismissing the case without a hearing on the merits was proper because the claims are meritless.

In addition to their visitation rights claims, the grandparents argue that the visitation statute violates the equal protection clause. However, they cannot make a constitutional challenge because they did not inform the attorney general properly.

Since the grandparents failed to assert they met a statutory or common law requirement for grandparent visitation, they lack standing.

Read the full opinion here.