What rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren whose parents are involved in divorce or separation? Apparently, grandparents do have the right to see their grandchildren as long as it’s in the child’s best interests. Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 lists two primary considerations for the child’s best interests which are:
- The right of children to spend time and have a meaningful relationship with their parents, grandparents, and other relatives and significant people in their life. According to the Act, a grandparent is the parent of a child’s mother or father.
- The right of children to have protection from family or domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
How the Family Law Act Supports Grandparents’ Rights
The primary consideration mentioned above according to the Family Law Act supports grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren. Grandparents have a significant impact on their grandchild’s personal life since they have great care and love to give. However, what can grandparents do in order to see their grandchildren if the parents separate/divorce? Read this article to know more about grandparents rights
Allocation of Parental Responsibility
Parental responsibility is a type of responsibility that enables a person to make major long-term decisions for a child. Both the parents must have equal shared parental responsibility when they have a child since this helps the child receive appropriate care from his/her parents. Some of these major long-term decisions are:
- Current and future education
- Religious and cultural upbringing
- Health arrangements
- Name changes if necessary
- Where the child lives (relocation to another state or moving abroad)
- How the child will spend time with each parent and relatives
Family law courts will still consider equal shared responsibility even after a couple divorces or separates. It is crucial to keep in mind that this responsibility is different from child custody. In some cases, some parents receive sole parental responsibility if the other parent has a history of exhibiting violent or abusive behaviours. However, that violent or abusive parent may still see his/her child, but with strict supervision.
Grandparents can also receive parental responsibility if they can prove to the court that both of the divorced parents are violent and abusive to their children. So, when talking about ‘what rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren’, depending on the circumstances of the matter, grandparents may actually have parental rights over their grandchildren.
How Can Grandparents Have Parental Rights?
Grandparents may seek court orders from the court for the child to live or spend time with them. Another way for grandparents to see their grandchildren is to come to an agreement with the child’s parents through mediation about a parenting plan. Where possible, the parties can prepare a parenting plan and include how the child spends time with their grandparents.
However, the court and all parties must still consider the child’s opinion and views on living or spending time with their grandparents. The court will also give weight if the parenting plan will adhere to the child’s best interests. Grandparents who are wondering ‘what rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren’, should first consider the child’s best interests.
Courts may draft a parenting order if parents and grandparents can reach an agreement about parenting arrangements. A parenting order is drafted either through consent or court hearings. Grandparents may also seek advice from a family dispute resolution practitioner if they want to draft a parenting order.
What Rights Do Grandparents Have To See Their Grandchildren: Other Court Considerations
How the Child Feels About His/Her Parents
Is the child comfortable with his/her parents before the divorce? Maybe the child was doing just fine and was really comfortable with the family dynamic. However, after the relationship breakdown of the parents, the child may feel distressed, fearful, or anxious. In rarer cases, the child may feel okay if the parents had an amicable separation and have received reassurance from his/her parents.
Relationship With Grandparents and Other Relatives
When talking about ‘what rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren’, it’s important to talk about the child’s relationship with other significant people in their life. Grandparents should see if they are having a good relationship with their grandchildren so they have favourable grounds in divorce proceedings. Some good practices for a good grandparent-grandchild relationship are:
- Frequent get-togethers with the children
- Being present when the children are in need of emotional or social support
- Offering a safe space for children when they are visiting
- Refraining from using abusive and/or violent behaviour on children
- Drafting a comprehensive parenting plan.
Effect of the Divorce/Separation on the Child’s Life
Is the child ready for child changeovers? What about the child’s usual schedule with seeing his/her grandparents, relatives, and friends before the divorce happened? Will the child long for the other parent who he/she won’t be living with for the time being? All these questions are factors in the effect of the divorce/separation on the child.
The Capacity of the Child’s Parents For The Child’s Care
The family court will always look at the financial and parenting capacity of each parent after a divorce. Parents should have the financial capacity to support their children after a divorce. Parents need to pay child support when raising a child since children need all the necessary resources in order to develop and mature properly.
At the same time, parents must also prove that they are also capable of financing themselves. What if grandparents do not have the financial means to support grandchildren? What rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren then? Grandparents should also have financial stability if they want to keep seeing their grandchildren.
The courts may take away a parent’s or grandparents rights over their child if they are not financially stable. Parenting capacity is another factor that the court also considers since children need proper parenting. This includes:
- Acting as the primary caretaker
- Providing emotional and social support
- Acting as a safe space for the child
- Providing guidance when the child asks questions or is confused with something
- Adhering to the morals and principles of the child’s religion and lifestyle
- Caring for the child when he/she is sick/unwell
- Assisting in schoolwork
- Assisting in child support payments
Family violence is any coercive behaviour that hurts a family member or child physically, emotionally, psychologically, or even financially. Everyone, especially children, deserves to be protected against domestic violence of any form.
Courts and family lawyers will take immediate action in order to prevent any further domestic violence or threats of domestic violence to the child’s life. It’s important to seek legal advice from a family lawyer if there are instances of domestic violence.
What Rights Do Grandparents Have To See Their Grandchildren: Our Family Law Advice
Family lawyers are well-versed in family law. They can help grandparents in difficult divorce cases. We can aid grandparents who feel like some parents are keeping their children from seeing them.
JB Solicitors believe that even grandparents should have as much rights in seeing their grandchildren just like parents. Our family dispute resolution services like mediation can help grandparents who want to come to an agreement with divorced parents about a parenting plan.
Contact our family lawyers today if you have more questions about grandparents rights.