Grandparents are an important part of the family and can often play a significant role in a child’s life. Unfortunately, when parents separate or divorce, grandparents may find they are not able to spend as much time with their grandchildren or in some cases are cut off completely. This can be devastating, for both children and grandparents.
Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup understand the rights of grandparents and can assist you in maintaining a strong and continuous relationship with your grandchildren.
What are grandparent’s rights?
The Family Law Act 1975 (“the Act“) acknowledges the importance of grandchildren having a relationship with grandparents whether the grandchildren’s parents have separated or still remain as one family unit. This does not mean the grandparents have an automatic right to their grandchildren as the “best interests of the child” is a paramount decision for the Court to reach.
The Act recognises children have the right to remain in regular contact with those who are important in their welfare, care and development including grandparents.
Grandparents do not have an automatic right to have time with their grandchild or to care for their grandchild however can apply to the Family Court for orders to enable this to occur.
The Child’s Best Interests
The “children’s best interests” are always the paramount consideration for the Court. The Court will examine, apply and make findings in relation to the grandchildren having a relationship with their parents and significant others in their life which includes grandparents and the need to protect the child from harm such as family violence.
Other factors the Court may take into consideration include:
- The degree of conflict and hostility between parents or grandparents.
- The physical and emotional needs of the grandchildren.
- The safety and welfare of the grandchildren.
- If the grandchildren hold the maturity, then the wishes of the grandchildren.
- The strength of the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren.
- The grandchildren’s adjustment to new residences, schooling and their community.
- Any other issues the Court may find relevant.
Can grandparents get custody of grandchildren?
When the Court considers an application by a grandparent for custody, it needs to be aware of:
- Any family violence towards the grandchildren or towards the parent and if the grandchildren have witnessed this act.
- If one or both parents have alcohol or drug addiction problems.
- If one or both parents suffer from physical or mental health problems that may impact on the parent’s capacity to care for the grandchildren.
- If the Department for Child Protection has been involved with the grandchildren due to Care and Protection matters.
The Act enable grandparents to seek Orders under the Act that would reflect custody orders, otherwise known as live with arrangements for your grandchildren.
Do grandparents have the right to see their grandchildren?
Grandparents, who are significant to their grandchildren’s care, welfare and development are in a position to seek Orders from the Court to continue a relationship with the children. The parents can be separated or still together for a third party to apply for Court Orders.
The orders grandparents may apply for include:
- spend time arrangements with your grandchildren; and/ or
- telephone contact with your grandchildren.
The type of application will depend on:
- your personal circumstances;
- your relationship with your grandchildren;
- your relationships with your grandchildren’s parents;
- the nature of the breakdown of your grandchildren’s family; and
- the nature and wishes of your grandchildren.
Can CS Family answer my questions about grandparent’s rights?
We know it is upsetting to have reduced contact with your grandchildren. We also understand it can be extremely stressful when you have concerns about your grandchild’s care or welfare.
If you need advice or assistance on visiting your grandchildren or formalising care options, our family law team in Perth and Joondalup can work with you to find out which application to the Family Court best suits your situation and the likelihood of a successful outcome for you and your grandchildren.