Vaughan Family Lawyers for Grandparent Access Rights & Contact Orders
Grandparents are often affected by parenting arrangements post-separation or divorce, particularly when the children live primarily with one parent and especially in cases involving a high level of conflict between the parents. However, grandparents (and other non-parents) have a right to request visits with a child, as well as parenting rights, under both the federal Divorce Act and the provincial Children’s Law Reform Act. The applicable legislation will be determined by whether the children’s parents were legally married or living as common law spouses prior to separation.
Most commonly, a grandparent seeking access to their grandchild will seek a contact order, which is an order setting out their right to regular contact with the child, and the parent’s obligation to facilitate this access. In some cases, grandparents may be looking for more than just quality time with their grandchild, for example, in cases where the parents’ abilities to care for the child are called into question. In these cases, a grandparent may instead ask to be granted decision-making ability with respect to their grandchild’s care. In both cases, the grandparents (or other non-parents) need the court’s permission to bring an application.
At Bortolussi Family Law in Vaughan, our family lawyers have been assisting clients seeking time with their grandchildren following the separation or divorce of the children’s parents since our firm’s inception. We understand how important it is to preserve healthy familial relationships, including the relationship between grandparent and grandchild.
After learning the details of your specific circumstances, we will provide an honest and comprehensive review of your rights and your chances of success with pursuing a contact order or other order with respect to your grandchildren. If there is a chance to resolve the matter with the parents directly through negotiation or family mediation, we will explore those options with you. In cases where it will be necessary to obtain a court order, we will diligently advocate on your behalf in court.
Grandparent Access Rights Under the Children’s Law Reform Act (for Children of Parents Who Were Not Married)
If the children’s parents were not married prior to separation, grandparents may seek a parenting order or a contact order under the provincial Children’s Law Reform Act.
A parenting order grants a successful applicant a right to parenting time and/or decision-making ability with respect to the child(ren) in question. This will generally be sought when there are concerns about the parent’s willingness or ability to provide adequate care for their child.
A contact order grants the applicant the right to spend time with the child(ren) in accordance with the terms of the order and creates an enforceable obligation on the child’s parent(s) to facilitate this contact.
In determining whether to grant either order in favour of the grandparent(s), the children’s best interests will be the primary consideration, above all else, just as they are in a dispute between parents. The existing relationship between the child and grandparent may also be a factor, in terms of how encouraging or refusing ongoing contact may impact the child’s wellbeing.
Grandparent Access Rights Under the Divorce Act (for Children of Parents Who Were Married)
If the child’s parents were married, a grandparent will need to seek a parenting or contact order pursuant to the federal Divorce Act. Like the provincial legislation, a grandparent may seek either type of order; however, they must first have leave, or permission, of the court prior to filing the application.
Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Bortolussi Family Law in Woodbridge for Grandparent Access Disputes
At Bortolussi Family Law, our divorce lawyers have over 120 years of combined experience helping grandparents seek and preserve their right to ongoing contact with their grandchildren. We understand how devastating it can be for grandparents to be excluded from their grandchildren’s lives. Further, we understand that it may be necessary for grandparents to seek parenting rights in order to best protect the best interests of their grandchild. As result, we put our considerable experience to work to advocate for our clients’ right to maintain a relationship with their loved one.
To discuss your circumstances and learn about the options available to you, please reach out to us online or by phone at 416-987-3300.