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Do grandparents have rights?

Grandparents do have rights to make an application for time with grandchildren, under the Family Law Act.

Do grandparents have rights?

(Taken from Family Law Network Australia)

Grandparents do have rights to make an application for time with grandchildren, under the Family Law Act. However if they want to spend time with grandchildren, but that is not agreed by the parents of the children, grandparents could invite the children's parents to meet with a child psychologist or to participate in mediation before making an application to the Family Court of Australia.

The Family Law Act allows the Court to make orders for the time a child is to spend with other people other than that child's parents, and this category of people includes grandparents. In fact grandparents are specifically referred to in the legislation as people who may apply for orders to spend time with children or to have children live with them.

The principles which the court applies in deciding whether to order that time be spent with a grandparent are the same principles that apply to any other person. The main principle is that any court order must have regard to the best interests of the child or children concerned. If children are at an age to express a view, that view may be taken into account by the court. In reality, if there is conflict and a lack of agreement between the parents of the child/children and grandparents, a court will have to consider the effect of any orders on the relationship between the parents and grandparents, which may in turn affect the children. In reality, where a grandparent is keen to spend time with children but that is not appreciated or agreed to by the child's parents, the court is likely to order limited time with the grandparents.

In these cases, the court will also take into account the time that the grandparents have spent with the children to date, their relationship with the children and practicality of time being spent. If there is failure to agree, or if a dispute exists between the parents of the children and the grandparents, the court will not adjudicate that dispute, and may err on the side of the children's parents in limiting the extent and nature of contact between the grandparents and the children. It would be my suggestion that family therapy, mediation or some process that allowed the parties to understand each other's perspective be attempted, on the basis that it is likely to produce real agreement. The Family Relationship Centres, Catholic Care, Jewish Care, LifeWorks, Relationships Australia all provide low cost family mediation services. In the Court system, there is a risk of considerable costs and sadness for grandparents who are unsuccessful in obtaining the kind of court orders they seek, and there is a risk that already fragile relationships between the parents of the children and the grandparents will be completely fractured.

Any particular case requires legal advice about the chances of success in litigation, and for there to be a discussion about alternative means of the grandparents seeing their grandchildren.

This answer was provided by Marguerite Picard Accredited Family Law Specialist.

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

Grandparents publication

Take  a look at an older post we made last year.


 

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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