When Can a Grandparent Win Child Custody or Visitation?
Nothing is harder for parents than seeing their child in pain. However, watching your grandchildren face tough times can be even more challenging. If your family is struggling with a divorce or other child custody issues, you should know that as a grandparent in Massachusetts, you have rights.
The Boston family law lawyers at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., are here to assist you. A single call to (617) 870-0907 can schedule a free consultation to explain your legal options for helping your grandchildren.
Many Bostonians are unaware that grandparents can be granted visitation rights to see their grandchildren, even if the children’s parents are not married, are separated, deceased, or divorced. For paternal grandparents, your son must have acknowledged that he is the child’s father before you can petition for visitation. The child’s paternity is not an issue for the maternal grandparents. But in cases of adoption, grandparent visitation rights do not apply if the child was adopted by a parent other than a stepparent.
To request visitation, grandparents must file a Petition for Grandparent Visitation as well as an Affidavit of Care and Custody. These documents require the grandparents to outline their relationship with the child, as well as the negative effects the child will suffer as a result of not seeing his or her grandparents. When considering the request, the Boston family court will act in the best interests of the child.
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Seeking Custody of a Grandchild
When a grandparent believes a grandchild is not in a safe or stable environment, he or she may seek custody of the child. Because all families and situations are different and each child has unique needs, there are four options for grandparents who are seeking custody:
- Informal custody, as the name indicates, is not legally binding and is not a structured long-term agreement. This is often used for temporary or short-term care of a grandchild. In these cases, the grandparent is providing for the child, but is not authorized to make medical decisions for the grandchild.
- In Massachusetts, a parent can sign a Caregiver Authorization Affidavit, which allows a grandparent to make decisions for a child’s education and medical care. This is often done if a parent requires medical care or often travels, and could be unavailable.
- Guardianship is a more formal and long-term solution. This gives the grandparent legal custody of the child. To obtain custody of a grandchild, a grandparent needs to prove the custodial parent’s inability to care for the child to the court. Even after guardianship is granted, the parent can still request to have the child returned to his or her care after making some required changes.
- Adoption of a grandchild is known as a kinship adoption. In these cases, the parent’s legal rights are terminated, and parental rights are given to the grandparent. After a kinship adoption, the parents cannot petition for the child’s return. An adoption requires either the parents’ consent or proof that the parent is unfit.
It is devastating for a grandparent to see a grandchild suffering in a poor home environment or being neglected. Under these difficult circumstances, grandparents can work with a skilled attorney at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., to step in and provide the care and security that the child needs. We understand your desire to protect your grandchild, and we will use all of our resources to assist you in your endeavor. Call the Boston child custody lawyers at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., today at (617) 870-0907 to schedule a free consultation.