Grandparents in Massachusetts have a legal right to petition the court to visit their grandchildren.

Can I Get a Visitation Order Outside of Court?

No. A grandparent must go through the court to obtain an order for child visitation. However, parents and grandparents can agree on a visitation arrangement without going to court.

When Do I Have the Right to Ask a Court for Visitation?

In Massachusetts, a grandparent has the right to request court-ordered visitation if the child’s parents:

  • Are still married, but living apart, but the separation must be a court-ordered separation.
  • Are divorced from each other.
  • Were never married and are living apart, even if the father does not have a court judgment declaring him the father and has not signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage.
  • Are deceased. It can be one or both parents.

What Do I Have to Prove to Receive Court-Ordered Visitation?

A grandparent must show the court:

  • Visitation is in the child’s best interest;
  • A grandparent-grandchild relationship existed prior to filing a visitation petition; and
  • No longer spending time together will be harmful to the grandchild’s safety, health and welfare.

What If I Have Not Already Established a Relationship with My Grandchild?

This will not prohibit you from obtaining visitation. If a grandparent failed to establish a relationship with the grandchild prior to the court case, a judge may still grant visitation.

Should I Seek Help from an Attorney Regarding My Visitation Rights?

Yes, talking to a child visitation attorney is highly recommended when grandparents are seeking visitation with their grandchildren. An attorney will take you step by step through the process and explain your rights and if you have standing to file a petition. The attorney will also explain what you can do if you do not meet any of the criteria.