The grandparent’s rights in Canada are an issue that is becoming more and more important every day. Until not long ago, if parents refused to allow grandparents to visit grandchildren, the situation was forgotten.
However, the role of grandparents in the development and emotional stability of grandchildren is very favorable. A close personal relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is always enriching. And the legitimate right of grandparents to maintain this contact should not be forgotten.
Here, we tell you about your rights as a grandparent according to law and how to practice them. But first, let’s see what those rights are.
What are the Legal Rights of Grandparents to See Their Grandchildren?
Many people are not completely aware of what are grandparents’ rights. Cases are frequent in which grandparents cannot see their grandchildren due to family disagreements.
It is unfair that they let grandparents see their grandchildren because of issues with the child or their partner.
The situation is mostly because there wasn’t a strong and defined law in Canada not long ago. It is only recently, in 2016, the court passed a law in their favor.
According to the law:
“Grandparents play a fundamental role in the cohesion and transmission of values in the family. It is the agent of solidarity par excellence in civil society. The minor’s personal relationships with his siblings, grandparents, and other relatives and close friends may not be impeded without just cause.”
Therefore, disagreements with your grandchildren’s father/mother do not justify forbidding the grandparent to have them in their company. They cannot prevent him from visiting them or having contact with them.
If your child or their partner is against it, do not stand idly by; fight for your grandchildren. Initiate legal proceedings and request visitation.
Do You Have The Right to Visit Your Grandchildren Even If Their Parents Divorce?
As in the cases of confrontation with parents, grandparents have the right to visit in the event of a divorce. They can communicate with their grandchildren.
However, in the event of a couple of breakdowns, the parent-child relationship is the priority. But attention should be paid to the grandparent-grandchild relationship also.
Can a Parent Deny Grandparents Rights of Visitation?
For the right reason, a parent can deny a grandparent visitation. In the case of grandparents’ visitation rights, the child’s best interests are understood with regard to this visitation right. The child’s interests appear to be the best solution for the good physical and psychological development of the child.
It is a question of finding the solution best suited to the child’s needs, given the circumstances. The family court judge may refuse the right of access when one of these cases arises:
- If the child objects to this right of access;
- If the family context between the parents and the grandparents is too deleterious; it may be to the point that a right of access would expose the child to perpetual conflicts);
- If the child is in danger in contact with his grandparents. This is the case in the case of violent grandparents, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc.;
- If the grandparents cannot take care of the child for various reasons (significant financial problems, severe handicaps, etc.).
Sometimes the family court judge chooses to take mitigating measures, such as:
- The granting of a simple right of visit without right of accommodation, or
- Sometimes even a simple right of correspondence.
The judgments of the family court judge must always be rendered in the interests of the child.
How often Should Grandparents See Grandchildren?
There are no certain rules on visitation time. It depends on the relationship of the parents, grandparents, and grandchildren. Some other factors can control this situation.
If the grandparents live far away from the grandchild, then they may visit less. But in this case, the stay might be longer.
On the other hand, if grandparents live close to them, they can visit often. In such situations, there may not be any stay-over for both the grandparents and children.
What happens in the case of divorce?
When there is a law involved, the visiting regime may depend on the Judge.
The Judge will establish the visitation and communication regime that most favors the minors’ personal and psychological development.
Here is an example that could be a standard visitation regime:
During the grandchildren’s childhood, the grandparents will be able to enjoy their grandchildren one weekend a month. They will also get two days during the school holidays (Christmas, Easter, summer…), for a few hours and without an overnight stay.
The visitation regime may be progressive so that it is extended when the grandson is turning his birthday.
A more extensive visiting regime would be one full weekend a month, two days at Christmas and Easter, and one week in summer.
However, the specific visitation regime will depend on the particularities and circumstances that concur in each specific case.
How Can I Legally Keep Grandparents Away From Grandchildren?
Okay, so this is something very critical and special question we often get. Not always the relationship between your child and their grandparents are fruitful. Sometimes this can be toxic and led to even worse circumstances.
In case the court has already ruled in favor of grandparents, there is no way to stop that. But the parent can convince the court that the visitation should stop for the sake of the children. Then, the court will take some facts under consideration, such as:
- The age of the minor. A visitation regime for a child under 2 years of age is not the same as for a child under 14 years of age.
- The relationship of the grandchildren with their grandparents.
- The ability of the grandparents to provide protection to the child.
- The mental stability of grandparents.
Once the circumstances of each case have been analyzed, one of the following judicial decisions will be adopted:
- Establish a visiting regime in favor of grandparents.
- Deny the visitation of grandchildren with grandparents if there is justification, taking into account the protection of the minor’s interest.
For example, the court can deny visitation if grandparents exert a bad influence on the grandchild towards a parent.
What Are The Remedies in The Event of Blocking?
When a parent, or both, object to the visitation or accommodation rights, try to find common ground first. Start a family mediation procedure (this will only start if both parties are present and have given their agreement). Contact your family lawyer fund or the court on which your home depends to contact a family mediator.
If this procedure is unsuccessful, you can take legal action. Enter in writing the judicial. The use of a lawyer is compulsory. It will be up to the Judge to settle the conflict as a last resort with regard to the interests of the child. The court will try to set the terms of visit and accommodation.
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is always special. But like other family relationships, it is sometimes difficult to manage. Especially conflicts arise between different generations or in blended families, among the potential conflicts: the grandparents’ visitation rights. So, it was our attempt to make you understand the grandparent’s rights. However, the best thing would be to contact specialists in this regard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a grandparent have visitation rights in Canada?
Normally, grandparents don’t have the natural right to visit their grandchildren. In general, the parents only have access to their children. The court may allow them access after a consideration, even sometimes custody. But only then, if that appears to be in favour of the children.
Can you legally stop grandparents from seeing grandchildren?
In most cases, parents can keep their children away from their grandparents. There is a deviation of that also, which is rare. That is- if the parents become the reason why their children are at risk.
Can parents keep grandchildren away from grandparents?
According to the law, the parents cannot do that. Their children can have a relationship with their grandparents. The main reason that can stand as a restriction to stay in communication between them is the possibility of harm from the grandparents’ side. One interesting fact is that you cannot stop your mother-in-law or father-in-law from meeting your children. They can meet their grandchildren if your wife or husband allows them to.
How do grandparents get visitation rights?
To get this right, the grandparents have to apply to the court and gain access. Some organizations advocate for the rights of grandparents. Most importantly, keep a good relationship with your grandchildren, even from a far distance. Send the gifts, cards, letters, etc.