In times of conflict or change it’s not uncommon for grandparents’ rights to be neglected or affected when it comes to their grandchildren. In some instances, grandparents are the primary caregiver of a child, and in other instances, they are significant and active relatives. The laws in Australia are complicated, but our Adelaide family lawyers can simplify them for you if you have questions about your rights as a grandparent.
What are grandparents rights in Australia?
Under the Family Law Act 1975, a grandparent is the parent of a child’s mother or father. They can be a biological grandparent and in some cases, a non-biological grandparent. A child’s right to communicate with, spend time with, and be cared for by both parents is outlined in Section 60B of the Family Law Act.
A child’s grandparents are explicitly listed among the people he or she should keep in contact with in the Act. However, the law does not automatically grant grandparents the legal right to care for or contact their grandchildren when a parent-child relationship breaks down. Rather, this remains the responsibility of the child’s parents. What is ultimately decided, depends on which parent places limitations on the grandparents and what the child’s best interests are.
What rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren?
Grandparents have the right to apply to the court to protect their grandchildren in their best interest according to the Family Act Law. However, this does not automatically give them rights to the children.
If the parents agree to a child custody agreement before separation, the grandparents can ask the parents to include their own rights in the agreement.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak to our child custody lawyers.
How hard is it to get grandparents rights?
A grandparent does not automatically have the legal right to see their grandchildren, but a grandchild has the right to spend time with her / his grandparents, especially if they are already close to them.
Rather than the child having to enforce this right, the grandparent must take action to ensure that their grandchild gets to spend time with them.
How to obtain grandparents rights
1. Get legal advice
If you are looking to claim your grandparents rights, your first step is to seek legal advice. Our team at Beger are expert family dispute lawyers and will work with you to ensure you’re taken care of during this difficult time.
2. Undertake mediation
Before any legal action is taken, under your lawyers guidance, reach out to the conflicting party to try to come to an agreement. If an agreement cannot be met, the issue may then be escalated to a mediator. A mediator is an independent professional who has been trained in helping families discuss their differences and guide you towards possible solutions.
The Family Law Act requires you to try to resolve your dispute before taking the matter to court.
In the event of a successful mediation and an agreement between you and your grandchild, a Parenting Plan or Consent Order can be presented to the court. This will officially grant you grandparents rights and may work to protect you in the case of future conflict.
3. Take the issue to court
In the event the dispute over contact with your grandchild cannot be resolved in mediation, you will need to apply to the court for an order that permits you to be in contact with your grandchild.
In order to take the issue to court, you will need to present a certification from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner showing that an attempt at resolution was made.
Grandparents may also use the courts to seek custody of their grandchildren if they believe their grandchildren are not receiving proper care, and will not be required to present a certificate if abuse is suspected.
Ultimately, it will be up to the court to determine what will happen for the child, based on what is in his or her best interests. The court may choose to order the parties to resolve the issues amongst themselves.
Can you stop grandparents seeing grandchildren?
Grandparents are an important part of a child’s life and can play an important role in their upbringing. If a family unit has broken down and the parents separated, a common arrangement is that grandparents only see their grandchild/ren when they spend time with the parent that is the son or daughter of the grandparents.
However, parents have the right not to allow grandparents to interact with their children if they deem it in their child’s best interest. The fact that someone becomes a grandparent does not immediately undo any wrongdoing that may have occurred and that may be likely to impact their grandchildren.
Instances that may make it hard to obtain contact with your grandchildren are:
- Substance abuse
- Previous or current criminal misconduct
- Violent behaviour
- A history of committing sexual abuse
Speak to a family lawyer about grandparents rights
If you’re currently looking to obtain rights to see your grandchildren, or you’re a parent who is trying to navigate the role of the grandparent in your child’s life, contact us today.
As the best family lawyers Adelaide has to offer, we’ll ensure the wellbeing of your family is considered at all times. Contact us on 08 8362 6400 to discuss your grandparent’s visitation rights on a no obligation basis. You can also contact the Beger & Co team online for any questions you have about our family dispute resolution services.
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