Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?

It’s no secret grandparents play many vital roles in the lives of their grandchildren. Depending on how far they live and other circumstances, they can be caring providers, wise teachers, and fun playmates. But regardless of the role they take, the love and emotional closeness that grandparents bring into their grandchild’s life make a huge, positive impact on their healthy development.

Unfortunately, family conflicts can sometimes affect this special relationship. So, how can we navigate such challenging situations? Do grandparents have automatic visitation rights? All these questions and more will be answered in the article below.

Can grandparents access their grandchildren in case of conflict?

Generally, grandparents don’t have a guaranteed right to see their grandchildren. Still, Canadian courts have recognized that it can be beneficial for a child (and in their best interests) to have a relationship with their grandparents. The decision depends on the specific nature and history of their connection.

Whether grandparents have rights or not depends on whether the situation falls under the Children’s Law Reform Act or the Divorce Act. The Children’s Law Reform Act applies when the child’s parents were never married or have chosen to separate instead of getting a divorce, while the Divorce Act applies when the parents are already divorced or going through a divorce.

However, keep in mind that the laws don’t mean grandparents will automatically have the right to spend time with their grandchild. This is decided by the court, which considers whether it’s in the child’s best interests to be in a relationship with the grandparent. To come to a conclusion, the court will have a look at the specific situation and factors. For instance:

  • What is the history of care of the child?
  • Are there any plans on how the child will be cared for?
  • What are the grandchild’s needs? Depending on the stage of development, how important is stability?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchild?
  • How does the grandchild view the situation (this depends on the little one’s age and maturity)

Ideally, you should consult a skilled family lawyer who can present your case best and show how your grandchild would benefit from having a relationship with you.

What if the grandparent has been the primary caregiver?

When grandparents have been the main caregivers for a child for a significant period, they can make a strong case that disrupting this relationship wouldn’t be best for the child.

For example, suppose grandparents have taken care of a child because the parent was unable to due to illness, addiction, or incarceration, and now the parent is ready and able to resume their parenting role. In that case, the grandparents might succeed in getting a court order that allows them to continue having a role in the grandchild’s life, even if the returning parent tries to deny such contact.

End notes

When it comes to grandparents’ visitation rights, each situation is unique, that’s why it’s so important to get professional help. If you need legal assistance, reach out to our friendly team here.