Separation, divorce, or one parent’s demise can impact grandparents’ relationship with their grandkids, especially if the surviving parent wants to restrict their visits. As a grandparent, you have a legal right to request visitation — as long as it is reasonable — with your grandchildren during or after separation/divorce, or after the death of one parent. In this post, we will discuss how and when grandparents can appeal for court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren in Massachusetts.
If you are a grandparent seeking custody or visitation of your grandchildren, reach out to Davis Law Group, led by seasoned divorce attorney Jay Davis. Jay has 27+ years of legal experience as well as the resources to help you reconnect with your grandchildren. Call us at 617-221-3548 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
How Grandparents’ Visitation Rights Work in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, courts work on the assumption that parents are capable of deciding how their kids spend their time. The only occasion where a judge may grant a grandparent court-ordered visitation, regardless of a parent’s protests is when it’s vital to shield the grandchild from harm.
If your request to spend time with your grandchild has been rejected by one of their parents, you must prove that visits would be important for the child’s welfare, safety, and health. In other words, the burden of proof or the responsibility to provide sufficient evidence will fall on you (the grandparent) to establish that spending time with the kid will prevent potential harm based on:
- The child’s exposure to emotional or physical abuse by the parent(s)’; or
- The child’s need for emotional support after one parent dies or the parents separate; or
- Your existing relationship with the child
If you can prove to the judge that by spending time with you, the child will be protected from harm based on one or more of the above factors, your request may be granted. It should be noted that you can ask for court-ordered time with your grandchildren even if the parents are not married. But if you are a paternal grandparent, and the parents are unmarried, your son must prove his paternity before you can request visitation.
How to File the Request for Visitation?
The first step would be to file a formal written request or a petition in the court making visitation or custody orders regarding your grandchild. In this petition, you will need to explain your proposed visitation schedule such as the times and days you’d like to see your grandchildren.
If you need help filing this petition or want to talk to an accomplished attorney who can do it on your behalf, contact one of the leading family attorneys in Massachusetts, Jay Davis. He and his legal team have worked with hundreds of parents and grandparents and helped them gain desired visitation and custody rights. Call us at 617-221-3548 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Once the petition has been filed, you must notify every party including the parents of the child and anyone else that has filed for custody. If you have already obtained a visitation order, but the child’s parent is preventing you from visiting or you want to spend more time with the child, you can request the court to enforce the existing order or modify/change it.
If only one parent is objecting to your having visitation, you will usually be allowed to spend time with your grandchildren when they are with the non-objecting parent. It is extremely rare for the court to prohibit any contact between a grandparent and children, unless:
- There is specific evidence of neglect or abuse by the grandparent; or
- Both the parents have agreed to forbid contact between the children and grandparent
Your Visitation Rights as a Grandparent in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, grandparents who are refused visitation with their grandchildren by the parent have a right to go to the court. If you can prove that such visitation is in your grandchild’s best interests and you have a prior relationship with them, the court is highly likely to grant you visitation. Even if the parents were never married, and you are a maternal grandparent, you can request visitation if the father is not recognized as a legal parent.
Work with a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney in Massachusetts
If you’re struggling with custody or visitation rights as a grandparent, consider working with a skilled family law attorney to help you exercise your rights. In Massachusetts, laws can be tricky to navigate when it comes to grandparents’ rights.
However, as a grandparent, you do have custody, visitation, and financial rights under certain circumstances. To know more about these rights pertaining to your specific situation, consider talking to Jay Davis, a dedicated family law attorney.
Jay understands that grandparents today are regularly faced with decisions about what is best for their grandchildren under difficult situations. Whether you are seeking custody or visitation, Davis Law Group can help you make a decision that’s in the best interest of your grandchildren. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 617-221-3548 or contact us online today.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
Thank you for reading. Need to talk? 617-221-3548