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What rights do grandparents have in divorce?

Divorce can be a messy situation for many spouses. Not only does divorce affect spouses, it can also affect children and their grandparents. Under some circumstances, Massachusetts grandparents may not be able to see their grandchildren during a divorce and after the parents end their marriage. What rights do grandparents have after a divorce?

There are different reasons as to why grandparents may be estranged from their grandchildren. Sometimes, the parents may simply decide to cut off the relationship, and other times, the child may be adopted by a step-parent. Understandably, most grandparents who have lost a consistent relationship with their grandchild may wish to pursue legal action. In regard to grandparent rights, there are no default rules that state that grandparents automatically have visitation rights.

Usually, grandparents are not permitted to file motions for visitation unless a parent's whereabouts are not known or if the parents are separated. In addition, each state has its own set of rules when it comes to grandparent visitation. For example, California will take into consideration the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent.

Grandparents may want to try to resolve issues before going to court. Mediation during divorce is an option that a number of people decide to take whether they are a parent or a grandparent. Mediation can also help to avoid multiple trips to the courtroom and the hassle of court litigation. Massachusetts grandparents and parents who are unable to come to an amicable resolution may want to gain as much knowledge as possible before entering court. Doing so can potentially increase the possibility of having favorable outcomes.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Do Grandparents Have Rights in Divorce?", Caroline Choi, Sept. 9, 2014

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