What to Know About Grandparents’ Rights in Massachusetts

Many people do not realize that grandparents can be greatly affected by divorce and custody arrangements. In some cases, a grandparent may need to request a visitation order in order to maintain a relationship with his or her grandchild. Read on to learn more about grandparents’ rights when it comes to visitation in Massachusetts.

What are the different types of custody?

In Massachusetts, there are two main types of custody-

Physical custody: This is awarded to the parent who has the child for the majority of the time. This parent is mainly responsible for providing the child with basic necessities, such as food shelter, clothing, and education.

Legal custody: This refers to a parent’s legal right to make important decisions in the life of the child. These decisions may include academics, religion, and health care. In many cases, legal custody is awarded to both parents.

Why do parents lose custody?

For the most part, Massachusetts courts believe that a child benefits from having a relationship with both parents. But, in some cases, a parent will be deemed unfit. Some reasons a parent may be deemed unfit include:

  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Refusal to co-parent
  • Substance abuse

If a parent is deemed unfit, the other parent will likely receive sole custody. Because Massachusetts courts believe a child should have a relationship with both parents, the unfit parent will most likely receive visitation rights, either supervised or unsupervised. When a parent is awarded sole custody, it can impact the child’s relationship with his or her other parent, as well as that parent’s family. As a result, grandparents may need to request a visitation order to spend time with their grandchild.

How do you get visitation?

In Massachusetts, grandparents must meet the harm standard in order to win visitation. This means that in addition to proving that having a relationship with the grandparents is in the grandchild’s best interest, you must also prove that the grandchild would suffer harm if contact were denied. This can be difficult to prove, so it is important to work with a skilled and dedicated family law attorney.

If you are a grandparent interested in obtaining custody, our firm is here to help. Reach out today to discuss your case with an experienced family law attorney.

Contact our experienced Bristol County firm

For over 30 years, The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. has provided quality legal support and representation for clients in Bristol County and all of Massachusetts. Our firm’s experience eases the stress of clients while providing the legal services they deserve. If you need help through a contested divorce, contact The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. for a consultation today.