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North Dakota Grandparents Rights

Visitation Must Not Interfere With Parent-Child Relationship

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The scenic beauty of North Dakota is displayed in this photo of the Badlands.

Photo © North Dakota Tourism/Gerald Blank

Grandparents, including great-grandparents, in North Dakota may be granted "reasonable visitation rights" if the court finds that visitation would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court is directed to consider the amount of personal contact that has occurred between the grandparents or great-grandparents and the child and the child's parents. Such an order may be granted in conjunction with a divorce proceeding, so although the law does not state it outright, it is unlikely that grandparents will be awarded visitation with grandchildren living in an intact family.

Since the North Dakota law is so brief, case law is doubly important in understanding how such a law might be applied. The U.S. Supreme Court decision of Troxel v. Granville, which strengthened parents' rights to deny contact with grandparents, actually cited a 1999 North Dakota case, Hoff v. Berg. In that case, the North Dakota law was found unconstitutional. The Supreme Court cited the case as showing that the State had no compelling reason to interfere in such decisions. In spite of the two court cases, however, grandparents are still being awarded visitation in the state of North Dakota.

Since previous contact with grandchildren is important in North Dakota, it is wise for grandparents to document their relationship with their grandchildren. For more information, see "Safeguarding Grandparents Rights."

See North Dakota Statutes. Look for 14-09-05.1.

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