It is not uncommon today for parents to separate or divorce, and for one or both parents to develop a new relationship or remarry. Marriage breakdown, death of spouse, difficult pre-existing relationships, misunderstandings, differences in religion, culture or lifestyle sometimes mean a grandparent's contact with her or his grandchildren may be end up being reduced or denied. This is particularly the case if the grandparent is the relative of the parent who is no longer living with the children following separation.
Can or will the courts grant grandparents visiting or access rights to their grandchildren even when the parents of the children object.
It is well recognized that grandparents can play important positive roles in their grandchildren's lives. At the same time, parents have certain fundamental rights to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
There are two important and distinct issues here: the right of grandparents to apply to court, and how the court determines whether grandparents' involvement in the grandchild's life is appropriate in the circumstances or not.
Click here for examples of relevant sections of the law in different jurisdictions that grant grandparents the right to apply to court for access.
In 2006 Manitoba initiated a provincial strategy called "Grand Relations" so that grandparents and extended family members could have better options and more help to resolve access and guardianship disputes. See: http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/grandparents.pdf
It is intended to help resolve disputes and avoiding to court.
Goldberg, D.L. Grandparent-Grandchild Access: A Legal Analysis Family, Children and Youth Section of the Department of Justice Canada (PDF, 59 pages, 2003)
Kruk, E. (Winter 1995) Grandparent-grandchild contact loss: findings from a study of "grandparent rights" members. Canadian-Journal-on-Aging. Vol. 14 (4), p. 737-754.
|Description: Explored salient aspects of grandparent-grandchild contact loss by focusing on critical factors and events contributing to initial access difficulties, as well as on those associated with eventual loss of ongoing contact, from the perspective of grandparents.|
Third Party Visitation (2008)
|Description: A one page chart from the American Bar Association showing coverage areas for grandparent parents rights in each state. 2008 Family Law Quarterly article. Vol. 41 (4)|
Purnell, M. Bagby, B.H. (1993). Grandparents' rights: implications for family specialists. Family Relations. Vol. 42 (2), 173-178
|Description: Explains "grandparents' rights" laws, which have been passed in every US state to allow grandparents to petition the courts for the privilege of visiting their grandchildren.|
Hartfield, B.W. (Spring 1996). Legal recognition of the value of intergenerational nurturance: grandparent visitation statutes in the nineties. Generations. Vol. 20 (1), p. 53-56.
|Description: Discusses current legal attitudes and trends concerning grandparent visitation rights. After nearly three decades of expansion, and as expansion continues in a number of states, some restriction of grandparent visitation rights has occurred recently in several states.|
Jackson, A.M. (1994). Coming of age of grandparent visitation rights. American University Law Review. Vol. 43, p. 563-601
|Description: Examines the current status of individual American states' legal statutes that provide grandparents with visitation rights, and offers a model grandparent visitation statute.|
Davik-Galbraith, C. (Spring 1995) Grandma, Grandpa, Where Are You?" -- Putting the Focus of Grandparent Visitation Statutes on the Best Interests of the Child. Elder Law Journal, Vol. 3(1)
|Description: The author argues that familial problems such as divorce should not end the grandparent-grandchild relationship and that it is the right of both parties to visit one another. The author recommends that states adopt legislation that specifically handles grandparent visitation rights and balances the interest of the grandparent, parent, and child, with the best interests of the child being the determining factor in granting visitation rights.|
Milan, A. & Hamm, B. (Winter 2003). Across the Generations: Grandparents and grandchildren Canadian Social Trends, Statistics Canada, pg. 2-7, Catalogue No. 11-008
|Description: Informative research article from Statistics Canada.|
Family Law Act "Grandchild/Grandparent Access"
Public Legal Education BC. & the Canadian Grandparents Rights Association. (2001) The Child's Right to Love: Information for Grandparents, Relatives, and Others Close to the Child
Description: Explains the rights of those who want to maintain a relationship with a child after there has been a separation of the parents or other event
The Child’s Right to Love: Information for grandparents, relatives, and others close to the child
|Produced by Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre & the Canadian Grandparents Rights Association. (PDF, 25 pages, 2003) - Alberta developed a new Family Law Act (October 2005) and parts of the document may be out of date.|
Beyond Loving: CARP fights for grandparents' rights to access and compensation for raising grandchildren
|Article that discusses issues related to access, custody and support. Prepared by Canada’s Association for the Fifty-Plus (CARP), April 2006.|
|CANGRANDS is a not-for-profit organization created to support grandmothers, grandfathers, and Kinship families to maintain or re-establish family ties|
Grandparents' Rights Resources
|Links to American grandparents' rights resources as well as recent judicial cases. Some Canadian links are featured as well.|