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Grandparents rights

Fall River, MA |

I want to know what my rights are as a grandmother who's grandsons are in DCF custody. My grandson was taken from the parents through DCF and I had him for 3 months then they gave him back to the parents for a month and now recently took him again. I am trying to get him back and DCF won't give me any info and say hes in a loving home. What are my rights?

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Attorney answers 3


You have no automatic rights here. In these situations, often a grandparent seeks guardianship over the children during the period of the parents' unfitness. Is there a reason that hasn't been pursued? Is there a reason DCF didn't seek to place the children with you in the first place? You might also pursue grandparent visitation, but if the parents or current custodian (DCF) object, that will be tough to achieve. The standard for becoming a guardian, or to have visitation, or to satisfy DCF either way, which now has to be done since it is involved, is what is in the best interests of the children. If DCF, and the court, sees you as a proxy for the parents or fear you would involve the parents with the children if you had custody or believe you to be part of or an enabler of whatever behavior caused DCF to take the children away, you would not be successful. You would have to show independence from the parents, an ability to physically, financially and emotionally provide for the children and that it would be better for the children to be with you rather than where DCF placed them. All depends on the specific facts and the specific reasons DCF intervened in the first place.


If you do you need to involve tthe court

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As a grandparent you have no special rights other than possibly "grandparent visitation", which (a.) is not the same as custody and (b.) involves many tricky legal issues that make grandparent visitation cases difficult to resolve. Your best course of action is probably to seek a guardianship over your grandsons through the Probate Court directly. As you describe the case, it sounds like custody of the children is currently under the control of DCF. Thus, DCF has control of the children and makes the decision to "place" the children with you. DCF then makes the decision to "place" the children back with the parents. You have little input or control.

The typical way out of the DCF "box" for someone in your situation is to pursue a Temporary Guardianship through the Probate Court directly, which involves asking a Probate Court judge to appoint you as Guardian of the children. Such an appointment would effectively place you in control of the children's custody instead of DCF. This is a big responsibility. For example, if you are appointed Guardian, the children's parents would take you to Court to regain custody, not DCF.

In order to obtain a Guardianship, you will probably need to give DCF notice, and you would need to be prepared to deal with a DCF attorney who may not agree with your position at the hearing. A seasoned family law attorney is capable of prevailing against DCF's attorneys (although nothing is guaranteed), but it may be a little overwhelming to attempt on your own.

The representations made herein are for informational purposes only, and are expressly not legal advice. Please consult a legal professional to resolve your legal issue.