Grandparents custody rights is a topic that comes up when your grandchildren’s parents are either denying you visitation rights or are not doing an adequate job raising your grandchild.
You may be wondering, as a grandparent, is there anything you can do about these situations?
Well, you may be pleased to know that there is!
Grandparents custody rights are, in fact, a real thing. The following article will discuss them in detail and everything you need to know if you are a grandparent in one of the situations mentioned above.
Does The Law Recognise Grandparents Custody Rights?
As mentioned earlier, the law does recognise grandparent’s custody rights!
The Family Law Act 1975 explicitly states that children have the right to maintain regular communications with persons deemed essential for their welfare, development and care. The Family Law Act also goes on to specifically reference grandparents as members included in this category.
The unfortunate reality is that these rights do not arise automatically.
Accordingly, grandparents will need to pursue matters involving parenting disputes, custody battles, or even visitation rights in Court, depending on the situation.
Is Legal Action Really Necessary?
If you are a grandparent seeking some form of custody or even visitation rights, it is not necessary to pursue the matter in the Courtroom setting. It is entirely up to you and your grandchildren’s parents whether you can resolve the issue informally and come up with arrangements without involving the legal system.
Wherever possible, it is recommended that you take the informal route to resolution as it will be far less costly, time-consuming and uncertain, in contrast to Court. If you cannot agree to a mutually satisfactory arrangement, the next best call to action is to have a mediation session.
A mediation session is a relatively informal session conducted by a neutral third-party mediator (often a family lawyer) who will attempt to facilitate a mutually satisfactory and fair arrangement amongst the parties to the session. The great advantage of the session is that it can overcome any emotional reasoning due to the presence of an unbiased third party who will play an active role in trying to reach a compromise.
A rather significant benefit of the session is that if a solution is reached, it can also be formalised through consent orders lodged with the Family Court of Australia and are legally binding.
Grandparents Custody Rights & Visitation Rights
Suppose the matter was unable to be resolved through informal means and your grandchildren’s parents are denying you access to your grandchildren. In that case, grandparents must apply for parenting orders to obtain custody or visitation rights of their grandchildren under the Family Law Act 1975.
In the Court’s decision-making process, the primary considerations will be the same as parenting disputes. These are the ‘best interests of the child’ factors enshrined in the Family Law Act.
The best interests of the child encapsulate the following matters:
- The views, opinions, age and level of understanding of the child;
- Whether there is a need to protect the child from family violence, abuse, neglect or any other form of harm;
- The relationship the child has with the grandparents, and the impact of any changes in those arrangements; and
- The benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with their grandparents, balanced with the factors above.
When Should Grandparents Pursue Legal Action?
Unfortunately, there are several situations that you may witness as a grandparent that will force your hand and obtain custody of your grandchildren.
Grandparents should apply for full custody of their grandchildren in situations where:
1. Both of the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child;
2. The child is exposed to abuse, harm, neglect or intoxicated guardians;
3. Both of the parents lack the mental capacity to provide adequate care for the child; and
4. Any other circumstances which prevent the parents of the child from raising them adequately.
If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family lawyers.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing matters such as grandparents custody rights, it is essential to remember that you do have the right to be involved in your grandchildren’s lives as a grandparent. If you are being denied visitation rights or are concerned about how your grandchild is being raised, it is up to you to do something about it.
Please do not hesitate to contact our team of friendly and experienced family lawyers today. We are happy to listen to your situation and advise you on the best course of action to undertake according to your circumstances.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way.
With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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