In the event that Massachusetts parents decide to divorce, it is likely that either on their own or with the help of the court a child custody and visitation plan will be created. When child custody orders and agreements are prepared they are drafted with the best interests of the children in mind and for this reason they can be rather subjective and can vary depending upon the needs of the children.
In some cases, though, a person who is not the parent of the affected child may receive visitation time with the youth through a court-approved agreement or order. Grandparents in Massachusetts often have rights to petition the probate and family law courts handling their grandchildren’s custody matters and seek to secure time with those young people.
Section 39D of Title XVII of the Massachusetts General Laws discusses the requirements for establishing grandparent visitation. A minor child subject to such a visitation petition may not be married; marriage is a bar to a grandparent’s right to visitation time. Additionally, visitation in such a case can only be granted if it serves the best interests of the child or children subject to the outcome.
It is generally the case that paternity must be established before paternal grandparents may look to the courts to establish visitation time with the presumptive grandkids. Similarly, if a child has been adopted by someone other than their stepparent then the biological grandparents of the child may not have rights to seek visitation time with them.
In many cases children benefit from spending time with their older relatives. Grandparents are often positive forces in their grandchildren’s lives and can enrich the kids’ experiences through their knowledge and love. Readers who believe that they may wish to petition for visitation time with their grandchildren are encouraged to talk to their family law attorneys.