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Tips for grandparents seeking custody or visitation

Due to economic struggles, incarceration, substance abuse, alternative housing situations, longer life spans and other reasons, more grandparents across Massachusetts and around the country are now living with or providing care for their grandchildren. If you are in the situation of wanting to seek custody of or visitation time with your grandkids, there are some things you need to understand as you enter the family law court system.

The process of using the courts to help maintain a quality relationship with your grandchildren can be difficult, and not every grandparent is necessarily entitled to court-mandated access. That being said, the courts do understand that there are situations in which it is in the child's best interests to keep the relationship with his or her grandparents intact.

While there are many reasons why a grandparent might be interested in having court intervention to allow access to grandchildren, it is important to note that judicial involvement is not possible in every case. Grandparents have to provide sufficient evidence so as to convince the courts to overcome the legal presumption that parents are fit to raise their children and make decisions about who is or is not given access to them.

Even if a grandparent is able to overcome the presumption of parental fitness, it doesn't mean that it will be in the child's best interest to have a relationship with his or her grandparents. Each case is different, and every unique family dynamic must be carefully considered by the courts when making these important decisions.

Because there are many different resources available to grandparents seeking custody, visitation, temporary guardianship or other rights to their grandchildren, all of it can't be covered in one simple post. Stay tuned for more installments on this important Massachusetts family law topic.

Source: Massachusetts Executive Office for Elder Affairs, "A Resource Guide for Massachusetts Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren," Massachusetts Executive Office for Elder Affairs et al, accessed August 22, 2014.

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