Grandparent Visitation Rights and Guardianship
Grandparents often fulfill special and important roles in their grandchild(ren)’s lives, but these relationships can become threatened in the event of a divorce or death of one or both parents. Suddenly, relationships that once were considered ever-lasting can be interrupted or even terminated with little or no warning. At Newburyport Family Law, we understand that this can be a confusing and scary time. We provide you with the information and tools necessary to ensure that you are well-informed about your rights which, in turn, can lessen the anxiety that often accompanies these difficult situations. In Massachusetts, under certain circumstances, grandparents who find themselves in this unfortunate situation have the legal right to seek visitation through the Probate and Family Court. However, this right is not automatic, and the law surrounding when grandparents can visit grandchildren against their parents’ wishes has become increasingly complex over the years. At our initial meeting, we will help you analyze your chances of success in the event that you decide to pursue visitation with your grandchild(ren) and, if you decide to go ahead, we will assist you in preparing and filing a Petition for Grandparent(s) Visitation, along with supporting Affidavits and other critical documents. In fact, your chances of prevailing on a Petition for Grandparent(s) Visitation often hinge on whether the documents filed at the inception of the case contain the requisite information and have been properly and carefully prepared. Once that step has been taken, we will work closely with you to gather the evidence you need in order to maximize your chances of continuing a lifelong relationship with your grandchild(ren).
On the other hand, if you are a grandparent and both parents are unavailable due to illness, service in the military, incarceration, or another reason, you may find you need temporary or permanent custody of your grandchild(ren) so that you can ensure their safety and handle various critical matters surrounding their care, such as schooling and health care. We will outline your options for you, which include the preparation of a Caregiver Authorization Affidavit for shorter term situations when parents are willing and able to assign these rights to you temporarily, temporary guardianship when parents are unavailable but expected to return, and permanent guardianship when circumstances require that you seek the care and custody of your grandchild(ren) until their adulthood. Finally, if you decide to seek either temporary or permanent guardianship, we can assist you in navigating through the extensive paperwork required by the court, as well as the court process itself.