Grandparents enjoy a special relationship with their grandchildren, and that relationship can often provide protection and enrichment not available through other means. When the child’s parents act in a way that threatens the relationship or endangers the child, Massachusetts law gives grandparents the right to act.
The team at Reade Law Firm, PC helps grandparents assert and enforce their rights. If you have been denied the chance to visit with your grandchildren or you want to seek custody or need help with a related issue, contact our team today to learn how we can assist.
Acting in the Best Interests of the Child
When grandparents want to enforce their rights, it is important to remember that the courts view everything in relation to the best interests of the child. It won’t matter whether the grandparents benefit from a close relationship with their grandchildren. The critical factor is to show how the child will benefit from that relationship—or actually, how the discontinuance of that relationship will cause harm to the child.
Courts can be hesitant to override a parent’s authority when it comes to contact with grandparents. So to succeed, it is essential to be prepared to show why lack of visitation will affect a child’s health, safety, or welfare.
Petition for Grandparents Visitation
Grandparents gain the right to seek visitation from the court when a grandchild is child’s parents are living apart, or when one or both parents are deceased. To apply for court-ordered visitation, grandparents will need to file a Petition for Grandparent Visitation along with supporting documentation including:
- Affidavit of Care and Custody
- Judgment of paternity (if any)
- Affidavit describing the grandparent’s relationship with the child and the negative impact if visitation is withheld
- Uniform Counsel Certification (in certain cases)
The affidavit explaining the harm to the child if visitation is withheld is the most crucial part of the filing. A judge could easily make a decision based on the arguments presented in this document even before a case comes to trial. We understand how to build and present the most persuasive arguments to assert grandparents’ rights.
Seeking Custody of a Grandchild in Massachusetts
If the child’s parents cannot or will not provide proper care for the child, grandparents can seek to obtain legal custody of the child. The process usually starts by filing a petition for temporary guardianship over the child. The child’s parents must either consent to relinquish guardianship or the grandparents must prove that the parents are unfit to raise the child or that the parents have abandoned the child.
After a grandparent receives temporary custody, they may apply for permanent custody. However, it is crucial to remember that the child’s best interests standard still controls every proceeding, so if a court later determines it is in a child’s best interests to return to the custody of a parent, that permanent custody may not be completely permanent. In most cases, however, when grandparents can show that they have built a secure and happy life for their grandchild and that it is in the child’s best interests to continue with that life, then the custody arrangement can remain in place.
Reade Law Firm, PC Helps Grandparents Assert and Protect Their Rights
When your grandchild is at risk because of short-sighted decisions made by parents or other guardians, grandparents can and should step in to protect the child. We can help.
The experienced team at Reade Law Firm, PC knows how to present the right evidence to show why it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with their grandparents. For help with visitation, custody, or other issues, contact us today to learn more about how we can enable you to reach your goals.