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Protecting grandparents rights to access

Photo of grandparents enjoying time with their grandchildrenWhile grandparents can have intense feelings about their grandchildren and an equally strong desire to have access to grandchildren, they need to understand that they do not have automatic access to a grandchild. "This is an issue that can be very difficult for a grandparent," explains Barrister and Solicitor Christopher King, who has extensive experience representing grandparents, most of whom need assistance with gaining access to a grandchild.

Family Law in Alberta dictates that parents get to make decisions about who gets access to children. If a grandparent is denied access, you need to apply for permission to request access, known formally as "seeking leave of the court" a process that should be completed with the assistance of a lawyer with experience handling grandparents rights.

If the parents of the children have separated and/or one of the parents is deceased, it is sometimes not necessary to obtain leave, but you should still consult with an experienced grandparents rights lawyer before proceeding.

The interest of the child always comes first in any decision about grandparent access. For example, if the application for access is likely to cause emotional distress for the child, the court may deny access. Other factors considered by the court include:

  • What was the grandparent's relationship with the child?
  • Is there an existing bond between the grandparent and child?
  • Will the presence of the grandparent be a positive factor in the life of the child?
  • What is the reason for the denial of contact?
  • Are both parents in agreement that the grandparents shouldn't have contact?

Effective representation and legal help for grandparents seeking grandchild access

Advice on how to improve your chances of obtaining access: Your behavior can have a positive or negative impact on how the court views your position. For example, the court will not be impressed if you are openly critical of the parents and their parenting methods.

Guide you to the experts on child access: Your ability to obtain agreement from the child's parents could be improved if you receive some guidance from mediators or family counselors.

In the News

Watch as Christopher King, family law lawyer with CK Family Law, offers valuable insight into grandparents rights on Global Edmonton News, April 19, 2016.

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