North American Indian Center of Boston Grandparents' Resource Guide

Legal Aid

Obtaining legal custody of your grandchild requires going to the Probate Court where the child lives to request temporary guardianship. In order to get guardianship of the child, his or her parent(s) must consent, must be found to be unfit or must be unavailable. The Clerk's office will have the paperwork necessary to get you started. You should bring the child's birth certificate with you if you have it.

  • Temporary guardianship means temporary. The biological parents have a right to be heard and contest your request. The court will set a date for the hearing.
  • If the Probate Court awards you permanent custody of your grandchild(ren), know that permanent does not mean permanent. The biological parent may petition Probate Court in the future for custody of the child to returnto him/her.
  • If you do not have the child's birth certificate when you apply for custody, the court may allow you to file it in the future.
  • You do not need an attorney. If you have legal questions, there is an attorney of the day at each court or you may contact one of the following resources:


  • The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP)

    Provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Greater Boston including in-court guardianship clinics with volunteer attorneys and law students helping petitioners for guardianship complete and file the guardianship petitions, AND helping guardians complete care plans and annual reports.

  • Greater Boston Legal Services

    Provides free legal assistance and representation on civil (non-criminal) matters to needy residents of Boston.

  • Health Law Advocates

    30 Winter Street, Boston, MA 02108

    A non-profit law firm that helps people who have legal problems concerning health insurance or medical care including MassHealth or other government health insurance programs, private health insurance plans and Health Safety Net (Free Care) eligibility.