Grandparent’s Rights

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De facto relationship and marriage separations are difficult and stressful, especially when there are children involved. In such times, it’s also not uncommon for grandparent’s rights to be neglected or affected when it comes to future arrangements. But what rights have grandparents got to see their grandchildren?

The laws in Australia can be complicated, but our family lawyers are here to explain them. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

What are grandparent’s rights?

The Family Law Act (1975), states in section 60B:

“Children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (such as grandparents and other relatives).”

In the Act, grandparents are explicitly listed as people that a child should keep in contact with. However, that does not automatically grant the grandparents a legal right to care for or contact their grandchildren.

The short answer is no. As mentioned above, while grandparents don’t have an automatic legal right to care for their grandchildren, they do have the right to apply to the family court to have access to their grandchildren.

It may also be in the child’s best interests and welfare to be in contact with their grandparents. This means both the grandparents and parents will need to take action to ensure the child spends time with the grandparents.

Grandparents’ visitation rights in Australia also extend to a wider umbrella of contact. The greater picture may include not only direct visitation, but also contact by phone, text, email, video call, and so on.

Can I go to court to see my grandchildren?

It is possible for a grandparent to apply to the court for visitation rights. More on how to go about this below.

How to apply for grandparents rights NSW

We’ve outlined the steps that would need to be taken in order for grandparents to apply to the court.

1. Mediation

Before taking your issue to court, you will need to make a genuine attempt at mediation or family dispute resolution. If the parties can agree, they may formalise the agreement with a Parenting Plan or Consent Order. This plan can then include grand-parenting arrangements, which officially grants you grandparents rights.

2. Going to court

If you cannot come to an agreement, you will need to apply to the court for an order that permits you to be in contact with your grandchild. It is essential that you have a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner that an attempt at resolution with the child’s parents was made.

Grandparents will need to properly present a full argument as to why their application is in the best interests of the child.

Grandparents can also use the family court to seek custody of their grandchildren if they believe their grandchildren aren’t receiving the proper care. In such cases, a resolution certificate will not be required.

In the end, it will be up to the court to determine what will happen for the children.

Learn more: child custody

When should a grandparent intervene?

If you suspect your grandchildren are living in a situation where their wellbeing is at risk, it’s critical that you speak to the proper authorities immediately. Such situations can include:

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • True neglect
  • Substance abuse by the parent or a mental health issue
  • Imminent harm to the grandchild
  • Lack of proper care in food, clothing etc.

Can you stop grandparents from seeing grandchildren?

The law does not give grandparents any automatic rights to see their grandchildren. So, in almost any case, parents can choose to keep their children away from their grandparents. Exceptions to these rules are rare and usually involve situations where the parents of the children are putting them at risk.

If you have any questions about grandparents visitation rights or need legal advice, get in touch with Owen Hodge’s experienced family lawyers today. Schedule an initial consultation on 1800 770 780.

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