This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re: the Marriage (Now Dissolved) of:
Karissa Shawn Meyer, n/k/a
Karissa Shawn Struck, petitioner,
John Patrick Meyer,
Fred Meyer, et al.,
Cottonwood County District Court
File No. F397395
Eugene D. Mailander, Malone & Mailander, 2605 Broadway Avenue, Box 256, Slayton, MN 56172 (for respondent)
Michael P. Kircher, Sunde, Olson, Kircher and Zender, 108 Armstrong Boulevard South, Box 506, St. James, MN 56081 (for appellants)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
In a marriage dissolution, respondent Karissa Shawn Struck was granted custody of the child, subject to father’s visitation. Mother and child moved 100 miles away, and father’s parents, appellants Fred and Mary Meyer, petitioned for one weekend per month visitation with the child separate from father’s visitation. The district court denied that motion. The grandparents appeal, alleging their motion was unopposed and that the district court abused its discretion in denying their request for visitation with their grandchild. We affirm.
The district court has broad discretion to determine what is in the best interests of the child in the area of visitation, and its determination will not be overturned absent abuse of discretion. Olson v. Olson, 534 N.W.2d 547, 550 (Minn. 1995) (in context of grandparent visitation); see also Manthei v. Manthei, 268 N.W.2d 45, 45 (Minn. 1978) (holding district court has extensive discretion in area of visitation, and visitation rights should be exercised only when in best interests of child).
The grandparent-visitation statute permits the district court to grant “reasonable visitation rights” to the minor child if it finds: “(1) visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child; and (2) such visitation would not interfere with the parent-child relationship.” Minn. Stat. § 257.022, subd. 2 (1998). In its analysis, the district court is required to consider the amount of personal contact between the grandparents and the child. Id.; see also In re Santoro, 594 N.W.2d 174, 177 (Minn. 1999).
Appellants asked for “reasonable visitation” in their motion, but in their affidavit and argument on the motion they clearly focused their request on one weekend per month visitation. Although respondent did not contest appellants’ right to visitation, she objected to having the three-year-old child travel to Windom three weekends a month and argued that the requested visitation would interfere with their parent-child relationship.
The district court found that “it is important that the grandparents be allowed to maintain their relationship with the minor child,” but that requiring one weekend per month visitation with appellants would interfere with the parent-child relationship between respondent and the child. Appellants argue that the evidence does not support the district court's finding of interference.
The district court found that appellants have been able to maintain their close relationship with the child following the parents’ separation and considered the fact that father is entitled to visitation every-other weekend, alternating holidays and eight weeks in the summer. Father lives in Windom near his parents, requiring the child to make two 200-mile round-trips per month from the child’s home in Blooming Prairie to visit him. An additional weekend trip would be required if the child were to have the visitation requested by appellants.
The district court also noted that respondent has remarried and has a child with her new husband. Respondent’s new family unit is establishing itself in a new community. The district court determined that requiring the child to spend three weekends a month away from the new family unit would interfere with the child’s relationship with respondent.
Appellants also argue that they should be granted the requested visitation because respondent allowed the child to visit a family friend in Windom on a regular basis. There is no evidence in the record that these visits continued on a regular basis once the family moved to Blooming Prairie.
Because the district court’s findings are based on facts in the record and reasonable inferences from those facts, we cannot say refusing to grant appellant’s one weekend per month visitation was an abuse of discretion.