It can be confusing to understand what are your rights as a grandparent when you have a disagreement with the parents about when you can see your grandchildren. You might be thinking that the parents have all of the say when it comes to granting you access to your grandchildren but, in fact, you do have your own rights under the Family Law Act.
Going to court is often stressful and expensive for everyone involved. Before considering going to court, try and work out your disagreements with the parents in an amicable and non-adversarial way. Try speaking with them in a comfortable and informal environment first and see if you can work anything out that way. If that doesn’t help, you could always write a letter and explain your feelings in a clear and concise way. If you are still having difficulties then you could consider trying family counselling, mediation or conciliation. With these alternatives, an independent person can help you explore solutions together in a collaborative way so everyone feels they are heard and understood. After exhausting these avenues, court may be the likely next step to resolve your issues.
Going to Court
The Family Court can make orders for your grandchildren to spend time with people other than their parents. The Court considers grandparents as people who are often significant to the welfare of the child and so you do have the ability to apply to the Court to spend time with them, even if the parents refuse to let you.
As a grandparent, you can apply to the Court to spend time with your grandchildren. The Court’s overarching consideration is what is in child’s best interests. If your grandchild is old enough to express their views, the Court will also consider what they want and their feelings about wanting to spend time with you. They will also have to consider if there is any conflict between you and the parents and how that will affect the children. The Court makes orders for grandparents to see their grandchildren, depending on individual circumstances, but it is usually less than the time granted for the parents to spend time with their children.
You also have the option to apply to obtain parental responsibility for your grandchildren and ask for them to come and live with you. This type of application is generally made only when the parents are either unwilling or unable to take care of the children. Examples include where family violence or drug addictions are an issue.
So how can you convince the Court to let you see your grandchildren? You will need to provide the Court with information on how much time you have spent with your grandchildren in the past and your relationship with them and what kind of things you generally do together. The Court will then make a determination after considering the views of the parents as well.
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