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Grandparent rights in Massachusetts

There are some situations that can occur that may prompt grandparents to seek visitation rights for a grandchild. The law in Massachusetts allows grandparents to seek them if certain circumstances apply. In making its decision, a court will only grant grandparent visitation rights in the event that doing so is in the child's best interests.

The law does not allow the biological grandparents of a child who is adopted by another person to seek visitation rights unless the adoptive parent is a stepparent. In order for grandparents to be successful in seeking grandparent rights, if they are the paternal grandparents of a child the paternity of the child's father has to have been established. If the maternal grandparents are seeking visitation rights, paternity does not need to be established.

Grandparents may file a petition if one of the child's parents is deceased, if a divorce between the child's parents is pending or if they are divorced, or, in the case of paternal grandparents, if the parents were never married and paternity has been established. If a particular case meets those requirements for filing, the grandparents may file a petition for visitation rights in the court of jurisdiction.

In order to prevail, grandparents will need to be able to prove to the court that granting the visitation would be in the child's best interests. In making its determination, the court will review a number of legal factors. It is important that the grandparents seeking such visitation be able to provide enough evidence to the court to help the judge make a favorable decision. It is unfortunate that grandparents who have previously enjoyed a close relationship with their grandchild are sometimes prevented from seeing the grandchild by a parent for any number of reasons.

Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "Section 39DVisitation rights to certain grandparents of unmarried minor children; place to file petition", November 11, 2014

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