If, for whatever reason, a child’s parents are unable to provide the attention and care the child requires, it is possible for others to assert custody over the child. Typically, this Interested Third Party is an immediate relation to the child—grandparents, aunts, and uncles—but may simply have a strong link to the child and their parent—a long-term partner of the biological parent or even a foster parent selected by the child’s mother.
Under Minnesota law, an Interested Third Party can petition the Court for either custody and/or parenting time with a minor child. Under this proceeding, a person who may or may not be related to the minor child may bring an Interested Third Party proceeding and seek legal custody, physical custody, or parenting time with a minor child.
There must be a significant and substantial relationship between the minor child and the Interested Third Party before an Interested Third Party Petition for Custody and/or Parenting Time is brought. In addition, the Court must be provided with facts which would show why it is in the best interests of the minor child to award the custody and/or parenting time to the Interested Third Party. These facts include the following factors:
- wishes of the parties as to custody;
- the reasonable preference of the child;
- the child’s primary caretaker;
- the intimacy of the relationship between the child and each party;
- the interaction of the child with the parties or with any other person;
- the child’s adjustment to home, school and community;
- the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment;
- the permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home;
- the mental and physical health of all parties, including the child;
- capacity of the parties to provide the child love, affection and guidance;
- the child’s cultural background; and
- domestic abuse issues.
In an Interested Third Party proceeding, the Court typically compares the competing interests involved between the parties (for example, a biological parent versus the Interested Third Party).
Because third parties are involved, the legal situation can be very complex. Courts are cognizant of the parent’s biological relationship with their children; yet, the Court has to balance the child’s welfare, emotional and physical safety and any other special circumstances when it comes to these proceedings.
An interested third party has the burden of proof to show that certain factors are met, such as abandonment, neglect, disregard for the child’s well-being, physical or emotional danger, or other extraordinary circumstances.
If your case involves Interested Third Party Custody or Interested Third Party Parenting Time issues, contact our office today for a free consultation. You can call us at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form.