The Family Law Act includes provisions that children have the right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development including grandparents.
The Court is required to consider when determining what is in the best interests of the child subject to proceedings, the right of the child to spend time with their grandparents.
In addition, when making certain orders concerning what is in the child’s best interests the court must consider:
- Other persons including any grandparent;
- The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from any grandparent with whom they have been living; and
- The capacity of any other person, including any grandparent, to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs.
The Family Law Act requires parties to attend mediation prior to commencing proceedings and quite often matters are settled at this stage so more than likely these matters are settled out of Court on an amicable basis.
If you are in doubt about your relationship with your grandchildren, or there is a situation involving your grandchildren for which you are uncertain or concerned about, then you should get immediate legal advice as to your rights.
In some instances Grandparents are stopped form seeing their grandchildren by the parents. This can happen if the relationship between the grandparent and their child has broken down; or where the parents have separated and one parent refuses the grandparents a relationship with their grandchildren. There are other instances where the grandparents have been caring for the grandchildren and then the child’s parent returns to take the child or children back into their care.
Grandparents do not have an automatic right to a relationship with their grandchildren, however anyone who has an ongoing relationship with a child, or any other person who can evidence that they are concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child, including the grandparents, may apply to the Court for parenting Orders. A parenting Order can include provision for the grandparents to spend time with the child or children subject to the parenting Orders.
It will then be to the discretion of the Court to decide what orders are in the children’s best interests, or it may be that a settlement can be negotiated before a final Trial.
If you are a grandparent who is being refused time with their grandchildren then seek legal advice to try and remedy the situation, going to Court is always a last resort and most of the time the situation can be resolved amicably.