What is a Grandparent’s ability to see or spend time with their Grandchild?
Does a Grandparent have a legal right to see their Grandchild?
The legal position is that it is actually the grandchild’s right to have a relationship with their parents and close extended family such as grandparents.
The extended family and particularly Grandparents, are an important part of a Child’s family and can play an important role in their upbringing.
Unfortunately, it does happen in some cases, particularly when some parents separate or divorce, that grandparents are cut out of their grandchildren’s lives or it can be made much for difficult for grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren.
If a family unit has broken down and the parents separated, a common arrangement is that Grandparents only see their Grandchild (or Grandchildren) when the kids are spending time with the parent that is the son or daughter of the Grandparents.
Grandparents do not have an automatic legal right to see their Grandchildren but the Child has a right to continue spend time with their Grandparent, particularly if they are already close to them.
Since the child cannot enforce that right, if the child’s parents are not facilitating a grandparent spending time with their grandchild, it is up to the grandparent to take action to get that to happen.
The Law enabling Grandparents to take court action?
The Family Law Act 1975 says that “children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development” (such as a Grandparent or other relative).
Section 65C of the Family Law Act 1975 specifies who can apply for a parenting order and specifically includes a grandparent and any othr prson concerened with the care, welfare or emotional development of a child.
“Who may apply for a parenting order
A parenting order in relation to a child may be applied for by:
(a) either or both of the child’s parents; or
(b) the child; or
(ba) a grandparent of the child; or
(c) any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.”
A parenting order isn’t just about who a child lives with, but who they spend time with, how they communicate with family etc.
Since quite often, a Grandparent is someone concerned with the care, welfare or development of the Child, Grandparents are legally able to apply to the Court for orders that:
- they have communication with their Grandchild, by skype, facetime, email, telephone, letter, providing a gift etc;
- for their Grandchild to physically spend time with them – eg. physical time in a visit during the day, overnight time, a weekend, during school holidays etc.
A Court can make orders about a Grandparent seeing or spending time with their Grandchild, whether the parents of the child (or children) are living together or separated.
If agreement can be reached about a grandparent spending time with their grandchild, then it can be put into a parenting plan the parents are making. Find out more in the information sheet Putting Grandparents time with Grandchildren in Parenting Plans.
If a Grandparent cannot reach agreement with a parent about them spending time with their grandchild, then the Grandparent will need to take legal action through Family Dispute Resolution (Mediation) and then if no agreement is reached or the parent refuses to attend FDR , to go to Court to get an Order enabling them to do so.
A grandparent or both grandparents must actually be a named party to the proceedings in Court, if a grandparent wants a specific Order is sought about them spending time with the Child.
As is the case for most proceedings seeking an order in child to spending time with a child, grandparents will need to attempt attending mediation with the parents before they can issue proceedings in Court. For more information about grandparents and mediation, see the information sheet Grandparents attending Family Dispute Resolution (Mediation) before going to Court.
For more information about a grandparent making an application to the Court to spend time with their grandchild, see our information sheet How does a Grandparent apply to the Court for a Court Order to see their Grandchild.
Grandparents time with Grandchildren: More Information
We also have the following information sheets on this same topic of Grandparents spending time with their Grandchildren, on Grandparents rights and similar issues facing Grandparents:
- What are Grandparents’ rights to see their Grandchildren
- Can a Grandparent apply to the Court for a Court Order to see their Grandchild
- Can a Grandparent attend Family Dispute Resolution (mediation) to arrange to see their Grandchild
- Putting arrangements for Grandparents in Parenting Plans
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All Topics in the Child Issues Section
- Types of Parental Responsibility Orders
- Child’s Time with Parents: Shared Care or not
- Grandparents: Rights to see Grandchildren
- Documenting a Parenting Agreement
- Best Interests of the Children
- Relocation of a Parent with a Child
- Change of a Child’s Surname
- Child Passports & Overseas Travel after Separation or Divorce
- How to change a Final Parenting Order previously made by the Court
- International Child Abduction