For many individuals with grown children, welcoming a grandchild into a family is a highly anticipated and joyous event. Free of many of the worries and stressors that tend to accompany parenthood and raising young children, grandparents can truly enjoy and cherish their time with a grandchild. However, in cases where a grandchild's parents divorce or split up, a grandparent may have questions and concerns about how decisions related to child custody and visitation may affect their relationship with and access to a grandchild.
It's important, therefore, that grandparents in Massachusetts take steps to become informed about the various factors that may influence whether or not they are able to obtain legal visitation rights to a grandchild.
In cases where a grandparent's adult child is divorced, separated, unmarried or deceased, a grandparent may petition the courts for visitation rights to a grandchild. Like all child custody and visitation matters, the courts strive to make decisions based upon what they deem to be in a child's best interests. Therefore, a grandparent should be prepared to provide evidence of an existing relationship and bond with a grandchild. Additionally, the courts must be convinced that failing to grant a grandparent visitation rights will cause a grandchild to suffer harm or somehow threaten his or her safety and well-being.
Matters related to child custody and visitation can be extremely emotional and complex. This is especially true in cases where a grandchild's parents are not on good terms. For various reasons, grandparents are advised to attempt to remain neutral about these issues and to maintain a conflict-free relationship with a son's or daughter's ex. An attorney who handles family law and child custody and visitation cases can assist grandparents in obtaining visitation rights via a court order.
Source: Massachusetts Legal Help, "Grandparent Visitation," Sept. 9, 2015