When two people get a divorce, it is often more than just those two people involved who are affected by the separation, especially if the couple has any children. Indeed, the child may be impacted, as may be anyone who has a relationship with that child, including grandparents. At the law office of Heather Ward Law, our experienced grandparents’ rights attorney in Massachusetts can represent you if you’re a grandparent who has questions about visitation with or custody of your grandchild. Here’s what you should know–
What Are a Grandparent’s Rights?
In Massachusetts, grandparents have the right to seek visitation rights with their grandchild in Massachusetts so long as the request is reasonable and within the best interests of the child. Note that this right only extends to a grandparent when the child’s parents are divorced, married but living apart, or one or both of the parents is deceased.
If the above circumstances do not apply–for example, the parents are married and living together and jointly agree that the grandparent cannot see the grandchild–the grandparent will have few legal avenues to see visitation. The only exception to this is if the child is at risk of harm.
What a Grandparent Needs to Prove to Get Visitation Rights
If a grandparent has been denied visitation with a grandchild and wants a court order for visitation, the burden of proof will fall on them. They must prove that their request is reasonable and, as stated above, that visitation would be in the child’s best interests. Proving this may require submitting evidence that shows that:
- The grandparent maintains frequent contact with the child;
- The child and the grandparent have a loving relationship;
- Denying the grandparent and grandchild visitation with one another would result in harm to the child.
What About Custody?
Getting custody of a grandchild is a much more complicated process, and will only happen in the event that the parents are deceased, the parents have had their parental rights terminated (either voluntarily or by a court order), or the court has determined that the parents are unfit and the child is at risk of harm by continuing to remain in a parent’s custody.
Get Help from an Experienced Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
If you are a grandparent who has questions about visitation with or custody of your grandchild, it’s important that you work with an experienced attorney who can explain the law, case precedent, and how to prepare your petition. While courts often look favorably upon grandparents who maintain loving relationships with their grandchild and simply want to be able to see their grandchild, there is still a legal standard that needs to be met in order to get a visitation order, and a small error could result in an unfavorable case outcome.
At the office of Heather Ward Law, Attorney Heather M. Ward has the experience and background in family law and grandparents’ rights you’re looking for. To learn more about your rights as a grandparent, please call Attorney Ward today at (617) 903-8955 or use the intake form on our website to send us a message directly. Our law firm will advocate for you.