Grandparents Rights to see their Grandchildren

13/11/2017

Often when there is a breakdown of a marriage or a relationship and there are children to that relationship the parents of the children sometimes do not encourage or even allow the children of the relationship to see their grandparents and more particularly, the parents of the now estranged spouse or partner.  It is unfortunate that some parents do not see that it is best of the children to continue a good healthy safe relationship with the wider family and in particular the grandparents.  The parties should not use the children as a weapon in such circumstances.  Not only does the Court have regard to what is in the best interest of the children, each of the mother and father should also.  In reality this is not always the case and often does not occur.

At Watson & Watson we receive calls from parents and grandparents who have been deprived of the good and loving relationship that they enjoyed during the time that the parents of the children were together.

We are able to discuss these aspects and attempt to encourage them to a course which will be better for the children than the estrangement that sometime is forced upon the children by one or other of their parents.

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court has power to make orders so that the children are able to spend time with the parents, other siblings, grandparents and others.  Unfortunately any Court case is likely to have further adverse effect on the relationships between each of the parties.  It is rarely best to have a Court case.  However there are things that can be done that can assist in the best interest of the children.

However the Courts can make a parenting order, if required.

In Tucker and Tucker and Avery and Tucker [2009] FMCAFAM 131 the maternal grandparents sought to have a parenting order to have sole parental responsibility. 

The application was sought to remove the child from the mother and protect her from exposure to or being subject to family violence.  Additionally the grandparents held fears that the mother was exhibiting signs of substance abuse; which gave rise to a need to protect the child.

The relationship of the mother and the grandparents was of a good nature. The mother often stayed with the maternal grandparents and relied on their support.

The Court took the view that it was in the best interest of the child to be in the care and sole parental responsibility of the maternal grandparents.

In contrast, is the case of Locke and Locke and Anor [2012] FMCAFAM 645 where the paternal grandmother sought a parental order to see her grandchildren.  The relationship of the grandmother and parents were so estranged the Court referred to it as “beyond natural repair”.

The parents offered to hold regular visits with the children under the supervision of the mother. The grandmother declined this offer.

It was ultimately determined by the Court that the grandmother had no relationship with the parents or children. In consideration of the fractured relationship and in the best interest of the children, the Court would not grant the grandmother a parental order to visit/see her grandchildren.

If you find yourself in a similar position where you are unable to visit/see your grandchildren or children with whom you have had a longstanding family bond/relationship and you wish to obtain advice, please contact Richard Watson or his Personal Assistant Shereen DaGloria to discuss the matter.  We can assist you in this very sensitive and difficult matter and address any concerns you may have in relation to the children’s welfare, safety and what is in the best interest of the children in circumstances that often arise on the separation of their parents.

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