Grandparent’s Visitation Rights

Child custody disputes don’t only affect parents and children. They can have a major effect on grandparents too. Grandparents whose grandchildren are caught up in custody disputes can feel like they are at the mercy of often uncooperative parents when it comes to getting visitation with their grandchildren.

This can be even more complicated when the grandparents are on the side of a parent who has lost custody of their children or have limited parenting time. The remaining parent can often be hostile about visitation with the other side of the family. Thankfully in Massachusetts grandparents do have some legal avenues they can pursue in these cases.

Under certain circumstances, grandparents can seek court ordered visitation with their grandchildren. In order for this to be an option, the parents must be divorcing or living separately. If the parents live together however, there is no right to seek grandparent visitation.

In addition to divorcing or separated parents, the court must also determine grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child. The grandparents must be able to show (1) they have a significant pre-existing relationship with the child, and (2) that failure to grant visitation would significantly harm the child’s health, safety, or welfare. More than a typical grandparent-grandchild relationship must be shown and detailed to the Court to prove that a significant pre-existing relationship exists.

When compared to a parent’s right to visit with their child in a divorce scenario, a grandparent has a higher burden of proof. A detailed affidavit is required along with the petition for grandparent visitation that specifies how all the requirements for court ordered visitation are met. Due to this need, it is highly advisable that any grandparents seeking to petition a court for visitation seek out the expertise of a Massachusetts family law attorney who will prepare an affidavit and represent the grandparents before a judge.

Massachusetts Child Custody and Visitation Laws

“The arrangements that couples make in order to maintain civility in the midst of their journey to divorce are often most elaborate when the professed top priority is to protect a child.” ― John Irving

Divorce is rarely easy, and even less so when it comes to custody and visitation arrangements for children. In Massachusetts, the top priority of the courts is to determine arrangements that are “in the best interests of the child”, but that may not always be as straightforward as it seems. This is not the time to try and do it yourself. Instead, seek competent legal representation and hire an attorney.

Massachusetts recognizes shared legal custody, sole legal custody, shared physical custody and sole physical custody, as defined under General Laws Chapter 208, s. 31. When a couple files for divorce, both parents are automatically granted temporary shared legal custody. This allows both parents to have equal responsibility (and rights) concerning major decisions like medical care, education and religious development. During what can be contentious times, differing ideas about the schooling or religious upbringing of children can surface. Having an attorney can make sure that these discussions and decisions remain on track and comply with the law. [Continue reading]

Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws

In the state of Massachusetts, domestic violence laws include physical harm or the intent to physically harm, the infliction of fear of physical harm, and involuntary sexual relationship against a family or other household member. This crime is … [Continue reading]

Alternatives to Massachusetts Family Court

Family law disputes such as divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal support are often emotional and can be stressful. When two parties cannot agree, they may believe taking their case to court is the only option. Litigation, however, can be … [Continue reading]

Excellent legal representation

Gary Todd offered amazing legal representation during my case. He was very responsive and trustworthy and explained everything in a language I could understand. I was kept informed during the entire proceeding and felt protected and safe through the … [Continue reading]

The Annulment Process in Massachusetts

Anyone who is no longer happy in their marriage can get a divorce in Massachusetts for just about any reason. However, there are some cases where the marriage should not be legally recognized in the first place. In these situations, an annulment may … [Continue reading]

Child Support Enforcement in Massachusetts

If you're in Massachusetts and dealing with the prospect of a spouse, ex-spouse, or parent not paying their child support payment, you may have to go through Child Support Enforcement. This is a service available through the state and within the … [Continue reading]