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Which court has jurisdiction for grandparent visitation case when the defendant moves? Also, will MA DCF work with NY DCF?

Boston, MA |

I filed for grandparents visitation in MA. My daughter was legally served, got mad and moved the child out of state. She has natural custody, being an unwed mother at time of birth. Meanwhile, DCF calls to investigate a mandatory reporter's third party report of abuse at their MA apt. If she has moved out of state, will DCF close the case if they can't locate the child? Do they get in touch with DCF in NY? Had court & my daughter was a no show. The father is in jail. I'm waiting for judge's orders in mail. (Judge said she'll give me visits.)Since she living in MA when I filed, does she still have to adhere to the MA court visitation order or does it automatically get moved to NY? She has not filed a change of address with the court. She moved 2 weeks ago, avoiding me, dcf & also eviction

DCF investigation will take forever if they can even find the child. Filing contempt of courts for visitation no shows (assuming she doesn't let me have the court ordered visits) will take forever. We are concerned for the child because of past abuse, documented by DCF. We haven't seen or heard from the child in weeks. We dont' know where in NY she is. Her mother has custody so the child is not technically missing, right? Is there anything else we can other than wait for her to be found and DCF investigate? I tried to condense a complicated situation. I hope it makes sense.

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Attorney answers 3


This is a tricky issue since grandparent visitation is a much different issue than a normal custody case. All 50 states have some version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which dictates which state has the authority to make decisions about a child. If you know where you daughter is, I would recommend consulting both with an attorney in that locale and here in the greater boston area.

This requires a more detailed analysis than can properly be given here on Avvo. Many family law attorneys offer free initial consultations so that they can get all the information they need to properly assess your case. Take advantage!


It really depends on the reason for the visitation. The Supreme Court ruled that grandparent visitation orders are unenforceable unless they are done in the context of "de facto parent" visitation. What you can do if you get such an order is to file the order in the court in NY that would have jurisdiction. That court should enforce the order.

No answer provided by this attorney in this forum is to be considered legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created in responding to this question, and advice provided is based solely on very limited facts presented, and therefore may not be correct. You are advised that it is always best to contact a competent and experienced with the practice of law in the county in which you reside.


You have outlined 3 legal issues (all of which are complex): (1) the UCCJA (interstate relocation of children) (2) grandparents' rights under different states (3) the "defacto parent" element of grandparent's visitation rights under MA laws.

I do not see any reason under the UCCJA why a court would interfere with the relocation to another state--excluding the issue of the DCF active investigation. Under UCCJA, grandparents do not have a right to act "in loco parentis" for a biological parent. Therefore grandparent does not have standing to make the application.

Grandparent rights ,including visitation, are determined on a state by state basis. You would need to speak with knowledgeable attorneys in both state to confirm the posture of the state courts in this regard.

Your questions and circumstances require close analysis by fully informed attorney(s). You can secure orders from the MA courts (and they should be enforced in NY); but that will still leave you with the practical issue of how you will be able to exercise that right. If the children are in another state and you cannot get the other state to remand them to MA, you will have to arrange to visit them in NY. This is just one example of the complications you will encounter; which is why I strongly recommend you speak with counsel.

This answer is provided for informational purposes only and it is not intended as legal advice. Additionally, this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you wish to obtain legal advice specific to your case, please consult with a local attorney

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