My son and daughter-in-law are divorcing. As a grandmother do I have visitation rights?

Grandparents do have legal rights, however, regarding visitation, may require a court order under Massachusetts law.

In the event the grandparents and parents can come to an agreement regarding visitation, court intervention is not required. When no such agreement can be made, there are certain situations grandparents may be granted a court order allowing visitations.

Under Massachusetts law, grandparents have the right to ask a court for visitation if the parents were married and then divorced; the parents are still married, but they live apart, and there is a court order about the separation; or one or both parents are deceased.

In the event the parents never married and are living apart, paternal grandparent visitation, the grandparents on the father’s side, may be granted if the father has signed a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage” or there is a court judgment saying that he is the father, then paternal grandparent visitation may be granted. Grandparents on the mother’s side, considered the maternal grandparents can ask for visitation even if the father has not signed a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage” or there is no court judgment stating who the father is.

At a court hearing, the requesting grandparents will need to show visitation is in the child’s best interest, a relationship has been established, and that it will be very harmful to the child’s health, safety, or welfare in the grandparents are not granted visitation.

Even if the grandparent did not have an important or well-established relationship with the child before the case began, the court could still grant visitation rights to protect the child from “significant harm.”

To have questions about your specific situation answered, give our office a call.