Rights of Grandparents in Child Custody

 

 

The arrival of a new baby can sometimes be stressful for parents and for grandparents.  Feelings may be mixed and conflict may develop.  Two young parents and two sets of grandparents under stress can provide opportunities for disagreements and misunderstandings.  It is very important to remember that all of these many people may be involved in the child’s life for many years.  If at all possible, it is in everyone’s best interest to work on the issues in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse and keeps everyone’s attention focused on what is best for the children.

 

 

 

Grandparents’ rights are not specifically written into law in except in Quebec .  The judicial system in each province considers numerous factors in arriving at a final and proper child custody arrangement.  These are the general guidelines that the courts follow throughout the provinces of :

 

 

 

  • One can not receive a custody order under the Divorce Act unless it is part of a divorce petition.
  • A judge may grant “Interim Custody” (temporary custody) until the final Divorce Decree is granted.
  • Individuals other than parents, such as grandparents or other relatives are permitted to file for custody under certain situations when a parent is deemed unsuitable due to things like insanity or alcoholism.
  • The primary concern of the court is “the Best Interests of the Child”.
  • Custody presents itself with the right to decision making regarding rearing the child and the education of the child.
  • Judges are not bound to Separation Agreements that resolve custody issues.  Modification and alterations may be made to the custody arrangements in the final divorce decree if the court feels that “the best interests of the child” are in jeopardy.
  • The court will try to limit the disruption of the child’s life during custody decisions.
  • The court will typically lean towards giving the mother custody when the child is rather young, unless of course it is not in the best interests of the child.
  • The wishes of the child(ren) under the age of nine are not considered, and the older the child is the more persuasive the wishes of the child are.

 

 

 

If your child becomes a parent while still living at home, is under 18 years of age and is dependent, you have a legal obligation to provide for him or her.  But because your child is now a parent, he or she has the right to make decisions about your grandchild that you may or may not agree with.

 

 

 

You may have little contact with your grandchild because he or she does not live with your child.  Although your child has an equal right to custody and access, you do not have that right – unless you go to court to try to get those rights.


You could try to negotiate an agreement for time with your grandchild, perhaps with the help of a mediator.

 

 

 

Mediation is a process that can be used to develop your own solutions to problems.  It requires cooperation and compromise, but if it works, you have used a method of problem solving that can be used again and again.  If your agreement breaks down later, you can go back to mediation to make changes so it will work better.  If you can use mediation rather than the court process, there are benefits for you, your child and your grandchild – you will be surrounded by less conflict, you may save some important relationships, and you may acquire some useful skills that can be tried in other areas of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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