Grandparent Visitation Addressed by North Dakota Supreme Court

Involvement of extended family members, such as grandparents, oftentimes can be an important part of a child’s life and upbringing. The bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren are irreplaceable. What happens when a relationship between a child’s parents ends through divorce or break-up, or if a child’s parents are deceased and the grandparents want to maintain their bond and relationship with their grandchildren?

North Dakota law allows for “reasonable visitation” with a child for grandparents. A court must find that the visitation is in the child or children’s “best interests” as that term is defined by the 13 factors set forth in North Dakota Century Code Section 14-09-06.2. There are considerations to keep in mind, however, for grandparents considering requesting court-ordered visitation.

1. Grandparent visitation must not interfere with the child’s relationship with his or her parents.
2. Recent cases decided by the North Dakota Supreme Court, Kulbacki v. Michael, 2014 ND 83 and In re S.B., 2014 ND 87, clarified the burdens placed on the grandparents in requesting that a

Court award them visitation with a grandchild. Namely: a. When a parent decides to restrict grandparent visitation with a child, that decision is presumed to be in the child’s best interests. The grandparent must then present sufficient evidence to overcome that presumption. b. The burden of proof showing that the visitation is in the child or children’s best interests is on the grandparents. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep a written record of interactions, visits, and previous time spent with the grandchild. c. The burden is not on the parents to prove the visitation is not in the child or children’s best interests. d. Grandparents do not have comparable parenting time (visitation) rights as a non-custodial parent.

If you are a grandparent and are interested in establishing court-ordered visitation with your grandchildren, and believe that the visitation will not interfere with the child’s relationship with his or her parents, or if you are a parent whose parents are seeking to establishing court-ordered visitation, contact Family Law attorney Lesley Foss at the Fremstad Law at (701) 478-7620 or by e-mail at

The information on this site is intended to be general in nature and is not intended to be specific legal advice. A party should contact an attorney for specific legal advice.