Grandparents are indispensable for a child’s growth – similar to vitamins. They are like heroes with invisible power. A grandparent knows how pleasing it is to hold their baby’s baby. But, a divorce between the child’s parents makes it difficult to access their grandchildren.
Grandparents, along with the child, suffer more in the separation. Some parent bans their child meet their children. So, what to do in such situations? What are the grandparent’s rights available for grandparents?
The last thing you can do is going to court and sue their parents for visitation rights or custody. As the situation varies, so does the solution. In any condition, it is best to talk to a family lawyer about your individual situation.
Are you a grandparent looking to deal with such situations? Keep reading.
What are The Grandparents Rights in Canada?
Earlier, there were not any specific rights regarding grandchildren’s custody and access. Things have changed now. Grandparents can make an argument for access to their grandchildren during custody disputes.
The court must consider the rights of grandparents in this matter. Besides, it is required to rule in the best interests of the child. The law says grandparent can continue their relationships with their grandchildren unless there is any serious reason.
Grandparent’s Rights and The Best Interests of The Child
The passage of Bill 34 does not automatically allow a grandparent to get access to their grandchildren. Here, the court decides whether the grandparent receives permission to access or custody. They decide based on the best interests of the child.
However, the court considers a few circumstances before concluding. As per the Children’s Law Reform Act, the court considers the following while determining the child’s best interest.
- The love, affection, and emotional bond between the child and grandparent.
- The duration of the child’s stay in a stable home environment.
- The preference of the child.
- Each party’s ability and eagerness (parent, grandparent, or other requesting for custody) to ensure the child’s needs. It includes:
- Their custody or access plan
- The constancy and durability of their family unit
- The relationship they share with the child
A family lawyer can present the case better on behalf of the person who wants the custody. The lawyer can explain how granting access or custody can benefit the child.
Grandparent’s Visiting Rights
If grandparents want to visit their grandchildren, they can ask the judge to let them see each other. They can ask to spend time like they did before the separation happened.
In such a case, the judge will keep the best interest of the child at first. Then, there come the interests of the grandparents or parents. The judge will consider the purpose of the grandparents asking for visiting rights.
According to the law, the purpose is to give the child a chance to know their grandparents. So they can develop a strong bond with their grandparents. Moreover, the court has the power to limit the contact considering the best interests of the child.
They can even limit the contact to telephone/online conversations, letters, or family get-together. Also, they can stop any kind of contact between them. If the grandparent gets the visiting rights, grandparents cannot spend more time with the child.
Reasons for Denying Grandparents Visiting Rights
If there is any severe reason found, the judge can even refuse to give the grandparents visiting rights. For this, the parent must show any serious reason to the court.
Any typical argument between parents and grandparents is not considered a serious reason. The following reason might prevent the access;
- The grandparent can be a bad influence on the child.
- There has been a legal battle between the parents and grandparents.
- The grandparents are trying to interfere in the parents’ parental authority.
- The children refuse to see or meet their grandparents.
- The grandparents are verbally or physically abusive toward the children.
How to Get The Grandparents Visiting Rights?
Every situation is different. A grandparent knows the family’s exact problem, and thus they can decide how to resolve it. It is wise to try to talk to the child’s parents first. Tell them how badly you miss your grandchildren.
You can have a neutral person as a mediator. Even after all these, if you don’t come to one point, go to court and file for visitation rights.
What If Parents are Not Able to Care for The Children?
Sometimes the company of parents can be harmful to their children. The parents may have a mental health problem or drug addiction. In such cases, the parents are putting the future of the child at risk.
If this happens, the court can grant child custody to someone else. Here, a grandparent can try to get custody of their grandchildren.
How to Deal with Such Situations as a Parent?
Usually, parents decide whether to allow their children to spend time with grandparents or extended family members. Sometimes you can refuse to let your children meet their grandparents regularly. It mostly happens if,
- You and your partner get separated or divorced.
- One partner dies
- The relationship with your parents or your partner’s parents is not in a good state.
If grandparents file for custody or access, the court may allow your children to meet their grandparents. The court decides who can spend time with your children and for how long. However, the judge decides based on the child’s physical, psychological, or emotional well-being.
The judge considers the relationship between your child and their grandparents. Also, they try to know the reason behind not allowing grandparents to meet. They check;
- Whether the grandparents have done anything for the child’s best interest
- Grandparents are asking for any unfair demand
- Whether the grandparents have been your child’s caregiver
- Grandparents are beneficial for your child’s future
- Whether they have lived with your child in the past
If you don’t like your child’s grandparents, that doesn’t mean you will not allow them to meet your child. There can be a mutual solution to your problems. You can try the following options.
Talk to The Grandparents
If you want to solve the issue without going to court, talk to your child’s grandparents. You both can agree to a mutual plan and allow your child to meet their grandparents.
If you have any specific concerns, discuss them with the grandparents. Moreover, if your child is mature enough to take their own decision, ask them what they want. Ask them to share their views, so you both can discuss the possible options.
Get Help from a Family Law Professional
If you and the grandparent cannot come to any mutual decision, think about using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is a process for settling disputes without going to court. It might be a suitable option if there is any chance for violence or abuse.
A family law professional can help in that case. They act as a mediator who can help you reach an agreement. However, they use the ADR process to decide for you. The process includes mediation, negotiation, arbitration, and collaborative family law.
Go to Court
If the family law professional cannot help, the only option left that is going to court. The grandparent can apply for custody as well as access to visit their grandchildren. Going to court can be a stressful and time-consuming process. But, there is no other option left for your issue.
Grandparents play a critical role in a child’s upbringing. It can be so beneficial for them if the grandparents are involved in their life. So it is always better to let the children spend some quality time with their grandparents.
There can be differences. Understanding grandparent’s rights can help them know what to do next. In any case, you should always keep the children away from conflicts.