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Child custody disputes may sometimes involve grandparents

Although resorting to the courts for grandparent rights is an extreme option, the changing demographic of modern families suggests that this is important information to know. A recent article provides context. 

The article describes an adult daughter’s reaction to the news that her 72-year-old mother had decided to divorce her husband of 45 years. The daughter, in her 20s, was unsure how to break the news to her own two-year-old daughter.

In Massachusetts, grandparents may have rights to see grandchildren, even after a divorce has changed some of the legal relationships that are involved. According to the compilation found on the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries’ website, there is state case law on this issue. According to some of those precedents, a parent’s decision to allow or deny grandparent visitation is typically afforded some weight. However, a family law court might also consider a grandparent’s request for visitation -- in spite of a parent’s objection -- if denying that relationship might adversely affect a grandchild’s health, safety or welfare.

Of course, a court will likely have many questions to ask about the basis for a parent’s wish to limit or prevent grandparents from obtaining legal visitation rights. In this case, fortunately, there was not a visitation dispute, as the daughter wanted her granddaughter to keep a close relationship with both of her grandparents even after their divorce. Other grandparents might not be so lucky. For them, a grandparents’ rights attorney can provide helpful advice, explaining the guidelines that a court might consider when responding to a visitation request from a grandparent.

Source: The New York Times, “The Grandchildren of Divorce,” Katie Crouch, May 21, 2014

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