Divorce and separation often have implications for more than just the romantic couple, especially when children are involved. Indeed, close family members, including the individuals’ parents, may be impacted by the divorce. For grandparents of children involved in a divorce, knowing one’s rights can be complicated. While most parents will agree to allow grandparents to have visitation rights with their grandchildren, in some cases, visitation may be denied. When this is the case, what rights does a grandparent have when it comes to seeking visitation with their grandchild?

At the law office of Lovenberg & Associates, P.C., our Massachusetts family law lawyers can help you to understand the basics of grandparents’ rights in our state. Reach out to us today to learn more.

When Can a Grandparent Petition the Court for Visitation with Their Grandchild?

In the majority of cases, grandparents and parents can agree about visitation without going to court; it is rare that a parent wants to completely deny a grandparent the right to see their grandchild. However, it does happen. For example, a parent may believe that a grandparent is a bad influence on the child and deny visitation as such, or may deny visitation as a way to “punish” the family of their ex-partner. In any case, if visitation is denied, it’s important that a grandparent understand when they are legally allowed to petition the court for visitation with their grandchild.

As found in Massachusetts General Laws Section 39D: Visitation rights to certain grandparents of minor children; place to file petition, a grandparent can file a petition with the court requesting visitation with their grandchild when:

  • The parents of the child are divorce;
  • The parents of the child are living apart;
  • The parents are married but there is a temporary order of separate support in effect;
  • Either or both parents of the child have died; or
  • The child was born out of wedlock (if there has been an order of paternity issued, both grandparents can seek visitation; if there has been no order of paternity, only the maternal grandparents maintain the right to seek visitation).

Proving that Visitation Is Within the Child’s Best Interests

Assuming that your situation satisfies one of the criteria listed above, you may file a petition for visitation with the court. However, the case does not end there – you must prove that visitation will be within the child’s best interests, or that there will be significant harm to the child if visitation is not granted. In order to prove these elements, it’s important that you come prepared to your hearing with evidence of the relationship that existed between you and your grandchild prior to the separation/death/etc., an explanation as to why that relationship has been terminated/interrupted, and any other evidence that shows how spending time with you will be within the child’s best interests or mitigate harm to your grandchild’s safety, welfare, or health.

Our Family Law Lawyers Can Help

At the office of Lovenberg & Associates, P.C., we understand the unique and special relationship that grandparents maintain with their grandchildren. If your right to see your grandchild has been revoked by your grandchild’s parents, please call our Massachusetts family law lawyers to learn more about how we can help. Reach us online or at (617) 973-9950 to get started.