Hanover Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
As grandparents, you have a unique role in the lives of your grandchildren. You give them the wisdom of your life experience, unconditional love, and sometimes, financial support. In some cases, you may even raise them if their parents are unable to.
Despite all that you do for your grandkids, a family conflict could jeopardize your relationship with them. If your time with your grandchildren is threatened or you fear for their safety in their parents’ care, consult a Hanover grandparents’ rights lawyer. Our team at O’Connor Family Law has over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, and we can review your case to determine what options you may have to protect your relationship with your grandchildren.
Can a Court Order Grandparent Visitation?
The law permits grandparents to seek visitation with their “unmarried minor” grandchildren in any of the following situations:
- The parents are separated, divorced, or under a temporary court order or judgment of separate support.
- One or both parents are deceased.
- The parents were not married when the child was born and do not live together, and the child’s paternity has been established voluntarily or by court order. However, maternal grandparents may request visitation even when paternity has not been established.
If one of these conditions exists, grandparents may file a petition for visitation in the Probate and Family Court regardless of whether the parents want them involved in their children’s lives.
Meeting the legal standard for obtaining grandparent visitation can be challenging without an attorney’s guidance. To obtain visitation over the parents’ objection, grandparents must prove that their grandchild’s health, safety, or welfare will be ‘significantly harmed’ if a judge does not grant them visitation. Because this is a difficult burden to meet, grandparents choosing to exercise their rights under these circumstances should seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer in Hanover.
What Would Prevent Grandparent Visitation from Being Awarded?
Grandparents may not seek court-ordered visitation if the grandchild’s parents are alive, living together, and agree that the children should not see their grandparents. The only option grandparents have in that circumstance is to reach an agreement with the parents. An attorney from our firm can negotiate with the parents in an effort to preserve the grandparent-grandchild relationship.
Grandparents Exercising Custody Rights in Hanover
Grandparents have a right to make sure their grandchildren are safe and well cared for. If their grandchildren are at risk, whether physically, emotionally, or both, grandparents may petition the court for custody. A judge hearing the case must decide whether placing a child’s care in their grandparents’ hands is in their best interests. The factors a court may consider when determining these best interests include:
- The children’s physical or mental health needs
- How stability for the child can be preserved
- The children’s ties to school and the community
- The children’s relationship with siblings and other family members
- The children’s preference regarding custody if they are mature enough to state an opinion
A knowledgeable lawyer in Hanover can explain how a court might weigh these factors when considering the grandparents’ rights to custody. There are many times where parents may agree to give the grandparents temporary guardianship over their children when they are in situations where they cannot care for their children, such as on leave for the military, in the hospital for a prolonged period of time, or if DCF has threatened to remove the children and take custody if the children remain in the parent’s care.
What if the Children Are under State Custody?
If the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has already removed a child and taken custody of him or her because they suffered from abuse or their parents died, a grandparent can seek to have placement of the children while the care and protection case moves forward in court. The Department has the responsibility to arrange an appropriate foster care or kinship placement for the children. If the grandparents are willing to care for their grandchildren, they may present themselves as an option for custody. The argument for placing the children with their grandparents is one best made by a skilled attorney.
When considering whether to place the child with his or her grandparent, DCF will still insist on running a background check of each grandparent and anyone else who is living in the grandparent’s home. Based on this background check, there have been situations where DCF has refused to allow placement of the child with the grandparents. Sometimes, such decision can be brought in front of a Judge to try to overrule the Department’s decision.
Speak with a Hanover Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
Children benefit from having a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. When that relationship is jeopardized, both the grandkids and the grandparents may suffer. If your relationship with your grandchildren has been put at risk, a Hanover grandparents’ rights lawyer could assist you with your case. Our dedicated team is committed to preserving families and can work diligently to protect your rights. To get started with your case, call today.