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Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Massachusetts

I do not have a good relationship with my adult child, and she will not allow me to see my grandchildren. Under Massachusetts law, what visitation rights, if any, do I have? -- Various readers
 
The issue of visitation rights for grandparents is controlled by Massachusetts General Laws, c. 119, s. 39D. Grandparents may petition the probate and family court for visitation rights with their “unmarried minor” grandchildren if: (1) the parents are divorced, married but living apart, or under a temporary order or judgment of separate support; or (2) one or both parents are deceased; or (3) if the child was born out of wedlock, the parents do not reside together and the paternity of the child has been established by a court or by a signed acknowledgment. (Maternal grandparents may proceed under Section 119 even when the paternity has not been established.)
 
To gain visitation rights, the grandparent(s) must file a petition at the Probate and Family Court in the county in which the divorce or separate support complaint or the complaint to establish paternity was filed. The Grandparent(s) must demonstrate to the court that an order allowing visitation would be in the best interest of the child.  The Burden faced by the parents, as discussed in Blixt v. Blixt, 437 Mass. 649 (Mass. 2002), is somewhat challenging.  In that case, the court found that for the granparents' petition to succeed, they must show that either (1) there was an important and significant relationship in existence between the child and the grandparents and that the court’s refusal to grant visitation will be harmful to the child's health, safety, or welfare; or (2) there was no pre-existing relationship but visitation rights for the grandparents are required to protect the child from significant harm. 
 
Note, however, that Massachusetts law does not provide a mechanism for grandparents to obtain visitation rights in situations where the parents are alive, living together, and in agreement that the grandparent(s) should not see the child. In such cases, the only way the grandparent(s) can visit the child is if some agreement is reached with the parents. (Submitted by the Editor)  

How to terminate grandparent visitation order?

I need some guidance on my research. In this scenario, paternal grandparents had guardianship for half of child's life. Last year Mother, upon proving to be fit, was awarded full custody of said child contingent upon grandparent's visitation.

The mother does NOT wish to sever ties with paternal grandparents. She wants the CHILD to choose when to see grandparents, so not to leave it up to the court or grandparents to decide. Numerous times Child has displayed unwillingness in speaking with paternal grandparents on the telephone and going to their home. Child has expressed grandfather's method of discipline is harmful (Tightly holding child's arms and shaking). Child has been asked to NOT tell his mother about seeing his father while visiting with paternal grandparents. Mother is distraught.

Which particular aspects of cases in Massachusetts can I cite to "prove grandparent visitation statue violates the due process rights of parents to raise their children?"

Also What citiations can be used to terminate mandatory grandparent visitations after Mother was granted full custody of child? What can negate a Judge's authority over a ruling such as this above mentioned scenario?

I have acess to Lexis. I have been reading about Blixt V. Blixt, Troxel V. Granville. I just need to bring it home with the circumstances surrounding this scenario.

Thank you in advance.

grandparents visitation

This is not my area of specialty, and I know nothing about the constitutional arguments you raise.  I would hire an attorney, or on your own, ask the family court to reevaluate the visitation in light of the child's wishes and the allegations of rough treatment.  It may be possible to have a guardian ad litem appointed to look into the matter and to help the court determine whether the visitation is in the best interest of the child.  Good luck.

Grandparent visitation

The Massachusetts statute allows court ordered grandparent visitation with their grandchildren in specific situations, generally where there was a pre-existing relationship, or in the case of a new grandchild born to an unmarried child. While there have been court cases on this statute, as you noted above, this is really a situation that is handled on a case by case basis. The underlying rationale of the statute appears to be the encouragement of inter-generational relationship where that relationship will be beneficial to the child, ie: in the "child's best interest". Generally parents have the right to determine who interacts with their children (hence your alleged due process issue), but there is a countervailing doctrine called parens patriae. Parens patriae basically holds that the government is the ultimate guardian of all people, especially children or persons with disabilities. Think about the requirement that children be placed in car seats, or the requirement that children be educated, etc. That said, the Massachusetts legislature has decided that there are indeed circumstances where the child's opportunity to have or continue a relationship with his or her grandparents outweighs the parents' right to deny that relationship. The guiding principle is always the "best interest of the child". When there is contested litigation about what is in the child's best interest, a Guardian ad litem can be appointed to either investigate what is in the child's best interest, or to represent the child's interest in the court proceeding. Someone has to pay for the guardian ad litem and the grandparents seeking visitation or the parents trying to deny visitation may all have lawyers, so this can become a very expensive venture. I hope this answers some of your question. One final note: parens patriae is an old, well established principle of common law, not some new idea that interferes with due process. Most laws require a balancing of interests, and the process by which that balancing is done is generally through the "due process" of litigating disputes in a courtroom.

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