Worcester Grandparents’ Rights Lawyers
Also Serving Grandparents in Hanover & Westborough, MA
As a grandparent, you may want to spend as much time with your grandchildren as possible and help them grow up to be happy, healthy individuals. If your grandchild’s parents do not want you involved in their child’s life, however, you may face an uphill battle to remain in contact. This can be especially difficult and disheartening for grandparents who have formed a close and loving relationship with their grandchildren.
Fortunately, in Massachusetts, you may be able to request court-ordered time with your grandchildren under specific circumstances. Because these cases can be complex, understanding the law is vital; you should know what must be proven to preserve your relationship with your grandchild. At O’Connor Family Law, our seasoned team is prepared to help you through this legal process. With over 35 years of exclusive family law experience, we are thoroughly familiar with the legal requirements. One of our Worcester grandparents’ rights attorneys can review and asses your case and explain your legal options.
Grandparents’ Rights in Massachusetts
As a grandparent, you have the right to protect your grandchildren from harm. If you believe your grandchildren are being abused or neglected, you can petition for guardianship and ask that they stay in your care. If a state child welfare agency establishes that your grandchild is suffering from abuse, neglect, or abandonment by the parents, you may be able to avoid the removal of your grandchildren from their parents by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) who will then take custody of them.
If the DCF does remove the children in an emergency situation that cannot wait for you to take legal action, you can still seek to obtain placement of the children as the Care and Protection case moves forward. If, however, the DCF is not involved, it is important to note that the parents are given significant preference in custody cases. Grandparents are generally awarded custody only in extreme circumstances. Our firm can review the history of your case, including the parents’ ability to meet their children’s needs and determine whether you have a viable claim for custody or possibly adoption.
Court-Ordered Grandparent Visitation
If you have had a close relationship with your grandchildren and the parents deny you contact, you have the right to petition the court for visitation.
Under Massachusetts law, this right applies when the parents are:
- Married but not living together
- Not married when the child is born and not living together currently after the father’s paternity has been established (if it is the paternal grandparents seeking visitation)
Unfortunately, this means that if the parents live together, their decision regarding your contact with your grandchildren may prevent you from seeking legal action unless a safety issue exists. At O’Connor Family Law, we can determine whether you qualify to seek visitation.
The Standard for Granting Visitation
When petitioning for visitation rights, you must prove two things in court:
- That it is in your grandchild’s best interests to have a relationship with you and
- That your grandchildren will suffer harm if the parents deny you contact.
One potential route to meeting this burden of proof is to show that you had a significant preexisting relationship with your grandchildren and that it would be harmful if that relationship ended. If the children lived with you for extended periods of time and you were heavily involved in their day-to-day life, this could make your case slightly easier. If you only interacted with your grandkids at holidays, that would not likely meet the requirements.
Within your petition, you can explain your relationship with your grandchildren, why you believe contact has been denied, and how a continued denial of the relationship would be detrimental to their health, safety, and welfare. We can help preserve your rights by preparing a case that meets this standard.
Work with an Experienced Worcester Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
It can be heartbreaking to be denied contact with your grandchildren, regardless of their parents’ reasons for doing so. Because state law gives great weight to a parent’s decisions, it can be challenging to secure time with your grandkids against parental wishes. Fortunately, O’Connor Family Law has experience handling such cases. We urge you to speak with one of our trusted attorneys about your case as soon as possible.
My representation was far more superior than my ex-husbands.- Vicki
Thank you, Heather!- Jim
Attorney O’Connor is a professional and compassionate attorney.- James
I would definitely recommend her.- Raymond
Heather is brilliant.- Former Client