Sunday, January 29, 2012

Can grandparents get visitation rights?

In Massachusetts, there is a law that on it's face creates the rights for grandparents to visit their children under a court order if the parents are divorced, one parent has died, or paternity is established by a court. This law, G.L. c. 119, § 39D, was interpreted by the Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Blixt v. Blixt, 437 Mass. 649 (2002). In this case, the Court recognized that parents have the constitutional right to raise their children without undo interference from the state. Applying this to grandparent rights, the court found that the statute can only be used to protect a significant prior existing relationship between the grandparent and the child and that intervention by the state is necessary to prevent harm to the children. Applying this to possible facts, basically, the grandparent must have had almost daily interaction with the child. It is best to consult an attorney before seeking grandparent visitation.

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