My husband and I are getting divorced after a 8 year marriage. We have 3 young children and have decided that that I will stay in our home in Natick, and that the children will primarily stay with me. We haven’t figured out when they will stay with their dad and already both sets of grandparents are voicing their interests in time with the kids too. Are grandparents’ visitation something that gets written into the divorce agreement?
The rights of grandparents to spend time with the children after a divorce can be problematic and depends upon the facts of each case. Generally, the rights of the grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren is ancillary to the parenting rights of the parents. Under Massachusetts law, however, the grandparents of an unmarried child may be granted reasonable visitation rights by the Probate Court when the parents are living apart under a temporary order or judgment of separate support, or following the divorce of the parents. The grandparents may also have rights if the children, who are born out of wedlock, do not live together but the paternity (of the paternal grandparents) has been established.
Where the above circumstances do not exist, and one of the parents objects to establishing visitation rights for the grandparents, then the grandparents will have to show that it is in the best interests of the children to do this, over the due process rights of the parents to decide what is best for their children. The grandparents will also be required to show that there is a significant preexisting relationship with the child and that the visitation is necessary to protect the child from significant harm.
Absent a compelling need to establish visitation rights to the grandparents, it is probably better not to complicate the Separation Agreement with this language, particularly where the parents have not yet determined their own parenting schedule with the children.
Attorney David Rubin is a Natick divorce lawyer and provides legal representation to clients in communities such as Boston, Boston MetroWest, Framingham, Dedham, Marlborough, Natick, Needham, Newton, Waltham and Worcester.
David L. Rubin, Attorney at Law
Natick Divorce Lawyer
929 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01701
Telephone: (508) 875-9797
Boston: (617) 451-0707
Fax: (508) 820-1560