Westborough Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
As a grandparent, you may want to spend as much time with your grandchildren as you can and help them grow up to be happy, healthy individuals. Unfortunately, if your grandchild’s parents do not want you involved in their child’s life, you may face an uphill battle to maintain contact.
Fortunately, in Massachusetts, you may be able to request court-ordered time with your grandchildren under specific circumstances. Because these cases can be complex, it is important to understand the law and know what must be proven to preserve your relationship with your grandchild.
With over 35 years of exclusive family law experience, our team is prepared to help you through this legal process. One of the excellent Westborough grandparents’ rights lawyers at O’Connor Family Law can assess your case and explain your legal options.
Grandparents’ Rights in Situations of Abuse or Neglect in Westborough
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 your grandchildren stay in your care. If a state child welfare agency has established that your grandchild is suffering from abuse, neglect, or abandonment by the parents, grandparents often get to avoid a situation where the Department of Children and Families (DCF) remove your grandchildren from their parents care and take custody of them.
If, after DCF has removed the children due to what they consider an emergent situation that cannot wait for the grandparents to take action, grandparents can still seek to obtain placement of the children as the Care and Protection case moves forward.
However, when DCF is not involved, it is important to note that the parents are given significant preference in custody cases, and grandparents are generally awarded custody only in extreme circumstances. A grandparents’ rights attorney can review the history of the 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 suddenly deny you contact, you have the right to petition the court for visitation. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 119 §39D, 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 who are 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 there is a safety issue. A grandparents’ rights attorney in Westborough can determine whether you qualify to seek visitation.
The Standard for Granting Visitation in Westborough
If you petition for visitation rights, you must prove two things to a court. First, you must prove that it is in your grandchild’s best interests to have a relationship with you, and second, that your grandchildren will suffer harm if the parents deny you contact.
One possible way to meet this burden of proof is to show that you had a significant preexisting relationship with your grandchildren and that it would be harmful to them if that relationship ended. If they have 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 saw your grandkids at holidays and, now, the parents do not want to be around you any longer, that will not likely meet this burden.
Within your petition for visitation, you can explain your relationship with your grandchildren, why you believe contact has been denied, and how a continued lack of a relationship would be detrimental to their health, safety, or welfare. A lawyer in Westborough can help a grandparent preserve their rights by preparing a case that meets this standard.
Consult an Experienced Westborough Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
It can be heartbreaking as a grandparent to be denied contact with your grandchildren, regardless of the parents’ reasons for doing so. Because state law gives great weight to the parents’ decisions, it can be challenging to secure time with your grandkids against the parents’ wishes.
Fortunately, O’Connor Family Law has experience with cases such as these and can help you preserve your relationship with your grandchildren. Call our firm today to speak with a Westborough grandparents’ rights lawyer about your case.