Grandparents Rights Lawyers in Calgary
Do I Have a Right to See My Grandchild if the Parents Refuse?
The relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild can be a special and meaningful one for both parties.
However, circumstances can arise that interrupt the relationship – perhaps the child’s parents separate or get divorced, a parent becomes ill or passes away, or there is simply a disagreement between the parents and grandparents about contact with the child.
What options do grandparents have to try to re-establish contact with their grandchildren if this happens?
Read More → Can Grandparents Have Contact with Children After Parents Separate?
What is a Contact Order in Alberta?
Both the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act contain procedures for seeking “contact orders”. A contact order can authorize non-parents – which included grandparents, other extended family, or even friends – to spend time with children.
There is no absolute right for grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren. If a grandparent applies for contact, the court’s sole consideration is the best interests of the child.
What is the Process to Seek a Contact Order under the Family Law Act?
What Kind of Order Can the Court Make?
If the court concludes that contact with a grandparent is in the child’s best interests, it will likely make a detailed order that sets a schedule and/or specific parameters for how and when contact is to occur. The court has broad discretion to decide what contact should look like.
For example, contact may mean in-person visits at designated places and times, but it could also be in the form of oral or written communication, or through media such as Facetime or Zoom. A contact order can also stipulate that it applies for a definite or indefinite period of time, or until a specified event occurs. The court may impose other terms, conditions or restrictions in connection with the order that it considers appropriate.
Contact Orders Under the Divorce Act
Following amendments that came into force in March 2021, the Divorce Act now also provides the possibility for “a person other than a spouse” – which includes grandparents – to apply for a contact order (s. 16.5(1)).
As is the case under the Family Law Act, a non-spouse applying under the Divorce Act must first obtain leave of the court to bring an application for contact. However, the Divorce Act provides no exemptions to this requirement. Consequently, in some cases, it may be advantageous for grandparents to bring their application under the Family Law Act rather than the Divorce Act if they are able to benefit from the exemptions provided by the provincial statute.
The Divorce Act does not indicate specific factors that should be considered in determining whether to grant leave to bring a contact order. In particular, there is no express direction for the court to consider the significance of the relationship with the grandparents before granting leave. Given the newness of the Divorce Act provisions, it remains to be seen exactly how courts will weight that or other factors in deciding leave applications.
If leave is granted, the court must decide whether to issue a contact order, after considering “all relevant factors” affecting the best interests of the child. Under the Divorce Act, that analysis must include whether contact between the grandparent and the child could occur “during the parenting time of another person”. For example, if paternal grandparents are able to visit with the child during the father’s parenting time, a court may decline to make a contact order (KLB v SWB, 2021 BCSC 1437).
How do I make sure my parenting plan complies with Alberta law?
Couples often have a hard time coming to an agreement about child custody arrangements—and their children can be caught in the middle of the conflict. Therefore, Canadian federal and provincial courts have enacted laws and guidelines to make sure custody decisions protect the rights of children and parents.
To be approved in family court, your parenting plan will need to fulfill the requirements of the federal Divorce Act, as well as Alberta’s Family Law Act. And if it is approved, the agreement is legally binding. The best step you can take to make sure your parenting plan meets federal and provincial standards and the needs of you and your children is to get help from a reputable Calgary child custody attorney.
Contact our grandparents rights lawyers in Calgary for help today
Whenever possible, it is preferable to attempt to resolve disputes over contact with grandchildren through negotiation.
However, if you are having difficulties getting to see your grandchildren, Spectrum Family Law can advise you about your options and assist you with steps you may need to take, both in and out of court.
Please contact us now to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, or call us at (403) 452-0043. We look forward to meeting with you.