We are frequently asked, “What rights grandparents have?”
People often want to know things such as:
- Are grandparents able to ask for time with the children ie their grandchildren?
- Can access/ contact/ time be prevented with the grandparents?
- What if I don’t get along with my grandchildren’s parents and they do not want me to spend time any time with my grandchildren?
It is important for you to know that grandparents, or any other significant persons (people who can demonstrate that they do or should have a relationship with the child) may be able to make an application for time with the children/grandchildren.
However, just because grandparents or other significant people are able to make an application to the Court for time with the children or grandchildren does not automatically mean they will be granted time with the children or grandchildren.
There are a number of factors that are assessed and it is important to get legal advice to ensure you are putting important and relevant information into your Court application.
The Court may consider a range of factors including but not limited to :
- The welfare and best interests of the child;
2. Whether or not it would be beneficial to the child to have a relationship with the grandparent or other significant person;
3. What reasons have been raised (if any) to oppose the time with the grandparent or significant person;
4. What risks the grandparent or significant person pose to the child or children (if any); and
5. What risks the carers/parents pose to the child or children.
If the grandparents or significant people want to spend time with the child or children, but the parents oppose it, the Court can do a number of things. One option would be for the parents and the grandparents to participate in a mediation. Another option would be for the parents and the grandparents to meet with a child psychologist to get a third party independent expert opinion on what is best for the child or children.
The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court has the capacity to make orders to require the child to spend time with people other than the child’s parents. However, this does not mean that they will or that they have to make such orders.
The Court also has capacity to order with whom a child lives and the children could be ordered to live with grandparents (or other significant people) if it is determined to be in the best interests of the child.
If the children are at an age to express a view, this may also be taken into account. The weight of the child’s view depends on a number of things such as their level of maturity or their capacity to understand the consequences of what they are relaying as their view.
The Court would also have to consider the level of conflict the child may be exposed to if there is significant conflict between the parents and the grandparents.
It could be ordered that family therapy or family counselling be arranged between the parents and grandparents to try and minimise the level of conflict or tension the children may be exposed to.
Every case is different and we strongly encourage you to get legal advice so that you have a clear understanding of your rights, your prospects of success and other means available for grandparents to try and maintain a relationship with their grandchildren.