Have you been denied visitation with your grandchildren? If you answered yes to this question than you have a legal right to petition the court in order to establish or re-establish a relationship with your grandchildren. That being stated, grandparent visitation can be a slippery slope, especially in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In essence, you are required to actually prove that your grandparent’s visitation rights are 100% in the best interests of the children.
Under Massachusetts law, grandparents have the option to petition the court for grandparent visitation rights if the parents of the children are divorced, are living separately under a court-ordered separation agreement, or are deceased. In addition, if the parents of your grandchildren were never married, are living separately, and there happens to be a court judgment that recognizes parentage, you can file for grandparent visitation. Furthermore, if you are a maternal grandparent you may request grandparent visitation of the parents of the children who were never married, and the father has not been officially recognized as a legal parent.
Although it can be challenging to show, the court can grant grandparent visitation if you can demonstrate that it is in the best interest of your grandchildren, you have a prior and healthy relationship with your grandchildren, and or that denying you grandparent visitation will be harmful to your grandchildren’s physical health, mental health, safety, and welfare.
In order to start the process, you will need to file a formal written request or “petition” to the court. You must include an Affidavit that spells out your grandparent-grandchild/ren relationship. It also needs to include exactly why your relationship with your grandchildren has changed including why you are no longer in contact. The written affidavit should also include exactly how your grandchildren’s physical health, mental health, safety, and welfare are at risk if your grandparent visitation rights are now approved.
The petition needs to map out your proposed visiting schedule including the days and times that you would like to visit your grandchildren. Once the petition is filed, you are required to provide notice to all parties involved in the process including the parents of the children, and any other parties who are seeking custody of the children. Last but certainly not least, if the court has previously approved your grandparent visitation arrangement, but a parent or both parents of the children raise objections to your visits, you can ask for the court to enforce the order. You can also ask the court to amend the order if you want to change the details of the order.
If you need help with grandparent visitation, please contact me.