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New marriage models pose intersting child vistation questions

The changing legal landscape of marriage has resulted in some novel issues. For example, if a same-sex couple has a child via artificial insemination, parenthood may still be defined by biology. The non-biological half of the same-sex couple will be forced to file for adoption of the couple's child.

Another example might be a parent who divorces from a heterosexual marriage and enters into a second marriage with a same-sex spouse. The former spouse might be uncomfortable having the children stay at the other parent’s home in the presence of that parent’s new same-sex spouse. The other parent may event attempt to impose visitation restrictions.

The above example may even skip generations. For example, if children from the first marriage have children of their own, will the parent who remarried a same-sex spouse have grandparent visitation rights?

From a legal perspective, a divorce court typically approves a visitation agreement reached between the parties. Furthermore, any modifications to an existing agreement generally should not be done unilaterally. The parties should petition the court for the requested relief or modification.

In Massachusetts, a body of case law exists regarding grandparents’ visitation rights. As found on the Massachusetts Court System’s website, those precedents generally accord a presumption of validity to a parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation. At the same time, the courts also recognize that a child may benefit from a variety of supportive influences and individuals. Visitation with a grandparent might be in the child’s best interest. Unless the grandparent can demonstrate that withheld visitation would cause the grandchild harm, however, he or she may have an uphill battle.

Our law firm has helped many clients with creative approaches to child custody, support and visitation issues. Where possible, we seek to reach agreement with the parties with a minimum of court involvement.

Source: Washington Post, “Ask Amy: Husbands are suddenly denied access to grandkids,” Amy Dickinson, Sept. 20, 2016

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