More and more frequently grandparents are seeking advice in
relation to their rights regarding grandchildren. Over the last
twenty years, grandparents have played an increasingly important
role in the family, the most major role being the provision of
Under the Family Law Act 1975 the Court must have
regard to the nature of a child's relationship with significant
others (including grandparents). when determining what orders are
in a child's best interests.
There is not, however, an automatic right of grandparents to
have a relationship with their grandchildren. It is children who
have rights. The Family Law Act specifically refers to a
child's right to not only know and be cared for by both their
parents, but also their right to spend time and communicate with
other people significant to their care, welfare and development,
most commonly grandparents. This reflects the significant role
grandparents play in a child's life and the importance of
nurturing those attachments.
Grandparents are also specifically referred to in the provisions
of the Act about in relation to who can apply for orders about a
child. A Parenting Order deals with who the child lives and spends
time with, as well as who they communicate with and who has
parental responsibility for them. However, before any party can
apply to the Family Court for parenting orders, they must firstly
attend mediation with a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner with
all relevant parties, except in exceptional circumstances.
In some cases, it can be appropriate for a child to be ordered
to live with a grandparent if the parents don't have the
capacity to care for the child, for example because of alcohol or
drug abuse. Quite commonly, however, situations arise when a
child's parents have separated and the grandparents are
prevented from having a relationship with the child. This usually
occurs to the grandparents whose son/daughter doesn't primarily
care for the child. Depending on the circumstances of the
grandparents' prior role in the child's care, a Grandparent
can seek orders to enable them to spend time with the child
separately from the time with the parents.
Speak to our expert Family Law team if you would like advice
about your options in relation to your grandchildren.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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