Do I have the right to a relationship with my grandchild?

Published 24 Sep 2018

Divorces or a relationship breakdown are painful and disruptive episodes for any family. If you're a grandparent, these scenarios are tough to watch, and you may begin to wonder what rights you have to a relationship with your grandchildren if these problems persist.

Here's what the law says:

Do I have the right to a relationship with my grandchild?

The short answer, unfortunately, is no. The Family Law Act of 1975 does recognise the importance of the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, but there's no explicit legal right included.

However, it's worth noting that, in law, not even parents are guaranteed a right to a relationship with their children. The Family Act Law focuses on guaranteeing that all decisions made with regard to children are made in their best interests..

What does 'best interests' mean in practice?

Family Courts investigating the best interests of children will first look at:

  1. How beneficial it is for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  2. The importance of preventing harm to the child.

There are a number of other considerations that will go into the court's decision.These include, but aren't limited to:

  1. The child's relationship with parents, and others (including grandparents and other family members).
  2. The opinions of the child (this will be impacted by their age and understanding of what's going on).
  3. In the case of divorce, whether each parent is prepared and able to encourage and make possible a relationship between the other parent and the child.
  4. Any family violence orders that exist.

What are my options?

If you're concerned that the level of contact you have with your grandchildren might be reduced due to their parents splitting up, you can discuss drawing up a Parenting Plan or Consent Order:

  • Parenting Plan - The majority of separating parents agree living, schooling and other arrangements for children informally, and this can be written down in a Parenting Plan.
  • Consent Order- The same decisions can be made more formal by including them in a legal consent order, which is registered in a Family Court.

In a situation where parents can't agree reach an agreement between themselves, or on how much contact you can have with the children, you have the right to apply to the Court for a Parenting Plan for your grandchildren. However, this can be costly, and you won't necessarily win the case.

Before taking any legal action relating to custody or visitation issues with your grandchildren, you should first seek legal advice from an experienced family law experts such as Malouf Solicitors.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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