This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In the Matter of the Welfare of:

B.S., Child.

Filed September 22, 1998


Davies, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. J496060112

Louise A. Bruce, 2100 Norwest Financial Center, 7900 Xerxes Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55431-1133 (for appellant grandparents)

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Q. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, Health Services Bldg., 525 Portland Ave. S., #1210, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for respondent Hennepin County)

William E. McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Karen Nasby, Warren R. Sagstuen, Assistant Public Defenders, 317 Second Ave. S., Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for respondent mother)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Davies, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.



Appellant grandparents assert that the district court improperly denied their motion to intervene in a proceeding against their daughter to terminate her parental rights to B.S., their grandchild. We affirm.


In January 1998, the Hennepin County Department of Children and Family Services filed a petition to terminate Jennifer Siems' parental rights to her minor children, J.S. and B.S. Appellants Kenneth and Maryann Siems, the maternal grandparents of J.S. and B.S., moved to intervene in the proceeding involving B.S.[1] The district court denied appellants' motion, and this appeal followed.


An appellate court must "independently assess the appropriateness of an order concerning an intervention as of right." Weiler v. Lutz, 501 N.W.2d 667, 670 (Minn. App. 1993), aff'd sub nom. Valentine v. Lutz, 512 N.W.2d 868 (Minn. 1994).

Appellants argue that they have a right to intervene in B.S.'s termination proceedings under Minn. R. Civ. P. 24.01, which provides:

Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action when the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and the applicant is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant's interest is adequately represented by existing parties.

Thus, appellants may intervene only if: (1) they have an adequate interest in the subject matter of the proceedings; and (2) there is some "impairment of or impediment to" their ability to protect that interest. Tierney v. American Group Ben. Servs., Inc., 406 N.W.2d 579, 580 (Minn. App. 1987).

Here, appellants' interests are based exclusively on their familial relationship with B.S. In their notice of intervention, appellants stated that they "seek to make a permanent home" for B.S. and eventually to adopt him. In their initial motion to intervene, appellants argued that they have a right to intervene because they are "blood relatives who have been seeking visitation, [and] who seek custody" of B.S. In their appellate brief, appellants argued that they have "an undeniable and obvious interest in wanting to maintain contact with their grandson, B.S."

In Valentine v. Lutz, foster parents sought to intervene in CHIPS proceedings under rule 24.01, arguing that they possessed a deep "attachment, knowledge, and concern for" the subject of the proceedings, their former foster child. 512 N.W.2d at 870. The supreme court held that these interests were insufficient because rule 24.01 "more appropriately applies to interests involved in traditional civil actions * * * rather than [other] very personal and family interests." Id.

Appellants attempt to distinguish Valentine because it involved foster parents rather than grandparents, but the rule of that case remains clear: familial interests do not justify intervention as of right under rule 24.01. See also Weiler, 501 N.W.2d at 670 (rule 24.01 does not "modify or enlarge substantive rights" of potential intervenor).

The legislature has declared that grandparents may intervene as of right in a juvenile proceeding only if the grandchild who is the subject of the proceeding "has lived with the grandparent within the two years preceding the filing of the petition." Minn. Stat. § 260.155, subd. 1a (Supp. 1997); see also Minn. R. Juv. P. 39.02 (granting only parents and guardian's right to participate in hearings on juvenile petition). By specifying this single condition for intervention as of right, the legislature presumably intended to exclude all others. See Minn. Stat. § 645.19 (1996) ("Exceptions expressed in a law shall be construed to exclude all others."). Appellants implore us to declare that grandparents may intervene as of right in termination proceedings. But "the task of extending existing law falls to the supreme court or the legislature." Tereault v. Palmer, 413 N.W.2d 283, 286 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Dec. 18, 1987). Because B.S. has never lived with appellants, appellants have no statutory right to intervene in termination proceedings involving B.S. This court has no authority to declare otherwise.

We note that denial of appellants' motion to intervene does not impair or impede their ultimate ability to protect their interests in B.S. These termination proceedings will have no effect on appellants' ability to file a petition for adoption if Jennifer Siems' parental rights are terminated. Appellants will then have party status in subsequent adoption proceedings involving B.S. See Minn. Stat. § 259.22, subd. 1 (1996) (establishing those who may petition to adopt child).


[1] Appellants, who had legal custody of J.S. from January 1995 to June 1997, already have party status in J.S.'s termination proceedings.