The subject of divorce often leads people to ask questions regarding the nuclear family itself, the parents, and the children affected by the situation. However, many more relationships are affected by a divorce, especially when children are involved. A custody battle can muddy the already tumultuous waters for everyone involved.
No two family units function the same, so it is difficult to say who all are affected when two parents battle for the custody of their child or children. In a typical family unit, the grandparents of the parent who lost guardianship can suffer the largest heartbreak. In a situation where they may have played no part in why the child is no longer allowed to live with, or even see, one parent,
how many rights do those grandparents have to see the child themselves?
Do Courts Order Custodian Rights for Grandparents?
The courts in Alberta can make an official court order that names a grandparent or set of grandparents as guardians to a child, provided there are certain factors. These factors can include whether or not the grandparent(s) have had custody of the child(ren) over the last 6+ months, the child has no more suitable guardian, and the grandparent is able and willing to become the guardian of the child.
Key considerations the court will have when determining whether the grandparents are suitable for grandparent rights:
1. The grandparents guarantee the court they will:
- Guide the child toward an independent state of living
- Ensure the child has necessities, including food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
- Nurture the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological development
2. The biological parents, if still living, have been notified of the grandparent’s guardianship application
3. Additionally, birth parents may consent to a guardianship order.
Even if a grandchild is given custody over their grandchild, they have no lawful duty to sustain that child from their own financial resources.
What Rights Do Grandparents Have to Spend Time With Their Grandchildren?
Grandparents often ask family lawyers if they have any right to see their grandchildren in situations like where their child has been denied custody or other such legal cases.
Courts in Alberta are very discrete in granting grandparents access to their grandchildren, and there are several possibilities as to what could happen when a grandparent files this request. Such as:
- A court could order that contact occurs between child and grandparent if it is within the child’s best interest.
- A parent or guardian can successfully demonstrate to the court that contact between child and grandparent is inappropriate, and the court will decide the communication shall not happen.
- If the guardians are parents of the child and have separated, or if one parent has died and the grandparent’s contact with the child has been severed due to this death or separation, the grandparent does not require the court’s permission to apply for a contact order.
- Suppose a guardian denies contact with the grandparent(s). In that case, the court may request that someone prove contact between the child and the grandparent(s) is in the child’s best interest and does not risk endangering the child’s physical, psychological, or emotional health.
What Legal Is Available to Grandparents Regarding Custody or Visitation of Their Grandchildren?
If you are a grandparent of a grandchild and have been denied access to that grandchild, you may have access to legal help. Call Getz Collins and Associates to schedule an appointment for a consultation on your situation: 403-934-2500