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Massachusetts Law About Grandparents' Visitation Rights

Massachusetts Laws

MGL c.119, s.39D Visitation Rights To Certain Grandparents of Unmarried Minor Children.


Grandparent Visitation Forms

Selected Case Law

Blixt v. Blixt, 437 Mass. 649 (2002). A parent's decision regarding grandparent visitation must be given "presumptive validity." To obtain visitation, "the grandparents must allege and prove that the failure to grant visitation will cause the child significant harm by adversely affecting the child's health, safety, or welfare."

Guardianship of Norman, 41 Mass. App. Ct. 402 (1996) Statute requires judge to make specific and complete written findings that visitation is in child's best interests.

Sher v. Desmond, 70 Mass.App.Ct. 270 (2007). Although there is a presumption of parental fitness to decide whether or not to involve grandparents in a child' life, the state has a compelling interest in protecting children from harm. In this case, the court applied the Blixt standard and held that while the grandmother had no previous relationship with the child, she may sue for visitation to protect the child from significant harm. "The grandmother's allegations [of abuse] rebut the presumption of the father's fitness, at the very least, to decide alone whether to permit visitation."

Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 147 L.Ed. 2d 49, 120 S.Ct. 2054 (2000) In a 6-3 decision, the Court struck down a Washington state judge's granting of grandparent visitation over the wishes of a parent, but did not declare all such statutes unconstitutional. Both sides found supporting arguments in the six separate opinions the Court issued.

Other Web Sources

Grandparent and Caretaker Visitation Rights, Provides a general introduction to the topic and a discussion of the Troxel decision.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren of Massachusetts.

A Resource Guide for Massachusetts Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren . Executive Office of Elder Affairs, October 2013.

Print Sources

"After Troxel v. Granville: Grandparent Visitation in Massachusetts," by Fern L. Frolin and Jennifer A. Fabriele. 44 Boston Bar Journal 8 (September/October 2000).

"The Extent of Grandparent Visitation in New England," by Erik Shaughnessy. 24 Massachusetts Family Law Journal 64 (June-July 2006).

"Grandparent Visitation Rights in Massachusetts After Troxel: Blixt v. Blixt," by Jeffrey J. Trapani. 38:3 New England Law Review 759 (Spring 2004).

Grandparents' Rights, by Tracy Truly. 3d ed. Sphinx Pub. Co., 2005.

"Grandparents Visitation Claims: Assessing the Multiple Harms of Litigation to Families and Children," by Stephen A. Newman. 13 Boston University Public Interest Law Journal 21 (Fall 2003). Available online to library card holders through Hein Online.

"Grandparents' Visitation Rights Where Child's Parents Are Deceased, or Where Status of Parents Is Unspecified." 69 ALR5th 1.

"Grandparents' Visitation Rights Where Child's Parents Are Living." 71 ALR5th 99.

Massachusetts Practice vol. 1 (Family Law and Practice) Thomson Reuters, 2013, Chapter 8. (Includes forms); vol. 5A (Methods of Practice) 4th ed., West Group, 2000 with supplement, sec. 26:7 et seq. (Includes forms); vol. 14A (Summary of Basic Law) 4th ed., West Group, 2006 with supplement, sec. 8.192.

"Parents First: Supreme Court Warns Judges to be Cautious When Granting Visitation Rights to Grandparents," by David Savage. 86 ABA Journal 38 (August 2000). Also Available online to library card holders through Hein Online.


Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
c/o Executive Office of Elder Affairs
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
(508) 771-4336

The Foundation for Grandparenting
108 Farnham Road
Ojai, CA 93023
(805) 640-0512

Grandparents' Rights Organization
100 W. Long Lake Rd., Ste. 250
Bloomfield Hills MI 48304
(248) 646-7191