BY CHRISTOPHER LEBHERZ – MAY 24, 2018
When divorce and other circumstances lead to the denial of grandparents’ contact with their grandchildren, grandparents may want to consider taking legal action. While they are not granted a constitutional right to do so, state legislatures have passed statutes granting these rights over the past four decades in recognition of the fact that grandparents play a critical role in the upbringing of children. After meeting the statutory conditions for visitation, grandparents must present the factors that courts may or must consider to grant visitation rights. In every state, grandparents must prove that granting visitation to the grandchild is in the “best interest of the child.” This issue should be carefully considered in consultation with an attorney experienced in family law.
Section 39D. If the parents of an unmarried minor child are divorced, married but living apart, under a temporary order or judgment of separate support, or if either or both parents are deceased, or if said unmarried minor child was born out of wedlock whose paternity has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction or whose father has signed an acknowledgement of paternity, and the parents do not reside together, the grandparents of such minor child may be granted reasonable visitation rights to the minor child during his minority by the probate and family court department of the trial court upon a written finding that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the said minor child; provided, however, that such adjudication of paternity or acknowledgment of paternity shall not be required in order to proceed under this section where maternal grandparents are seeking such visitation rights. No such visitation rights shall be granted if said minor child has been adopted by a person other than a stepparent of such child and any visitation rights granted pursuant to this section prior to such adoption of the said minor child shall be terminated upon such adoption without any further action of the court.
A petition for grandparents visitation authorized under this section shall, where applicable, be filed in the county within the commonwealth in which the divorce or separate support complaint or the complaint to establish paternity was filed. If the divorce, separate support or paternity judgment was entered without the commonwealth but the child presently resides within the commonwealth, said petition may be filed in the county where the child resides.
To schedule a free consultation, please call LEBHERZ & LEBHERZ, Attorneys at Law, at (508) 548-6600 to make an appointment. Our office is at Old Bailey Court, 99 Town Hall Square.