Grandparents Rights Lawyers in Toronto, ON Helping You See Your Grandchildren
Has a divorce impacted your ability to see your grandchildren? Is someone purposefully keeping you away? Do you believe that you could provide a better home for your grandchildren as their legal guardians? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to find out more about grandparents’ rights in Ontario.
We know that the grandparent-grandchild relationship is a special one, and it’s important for children to have as many people as possible in their lives who care for them, love them, and want what’s best for them. But what happens when someone stands in the way of that? It’s not uncommon for grandparents to be pushed out of their grandchildren’s lives after the parents’ divorce or separate, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any legal options. Find out more about how Ontario handles grandparents’ rights and how you may be able to establish a court order that ensures you can maintain a relationship with your grandchildren.
The best interest of the child is the most important thing to consider when making any decision about the child’s case. If you believe that maintaining a relationship with or even living with you is in the best interests of your grandchildren, you may want to consider a grandparents’ rights case. Our lawyers have experience with this part of family law and are able to answer your questions, inform you of the process, and get the paperwork started so that you can focus on your grandchildren.
What Is the Children’s Law Reform Act?
The Children’s Law Reform Act is a set of legal guidelines in Ontario that govern how issues are handled after the separation of parents who were not legally married or married parents who are getting a legal separation. It specifically outlines rules of parentage, how physical custody and decision-making responsibility are handled, and the court procedures for anything related to the children’s interests.
Specifically, the Children’s Law Reform Act gives grandparents the official right to petition the courts for access to their children as part of custody disputes. The Divorce Act–which applies to matters involving legal divorce–also provides grounds for grandparents’ rights cases.
What Rights Do Grandparents Have in Custody Disputes?
Grandparents’ rights are a relatively new issue within the courts. In the past, grandparents didn’t have any specific legal standing to petition the courts for access to or custody of their grandchildren if the parents weren’t letting them see them. However, this changed when the courts officially provided the ability for individuals other than parents to petition for custody or access if it was in the best interests of the children through the Divorce Act. Grandparent rights fall into this category.
The exact nature of a grandparents’ rights case depends on whether the grandparent is petitioning for legal custody or simple visitation rights. Court-ordered visitation may be much easier to obtain than legal custody or guardianship of the child.
When considering a grandparents’ rights case, the courts look at many factors, with the most important being what is in the best interests of the children. This could include the existing relationship the grandparent has had with the grandchild up to this point, the circumstances of the child’s current household and parental support, and what the grandchild prefers if they are deemed old enough to have a say.
Other circumstances that may be considered, especially in cases where a grandparent is seeking custody, could be whether there has been any history of family violence, how well a grandparent can meet the physical and financial needs of the child, and the opinion of professionals, such as mental health care providers, on what is best for the child’s care.
When Should I File a Grandparents Rights Case?
It’s common for grandparents’ access to their grandchildren to change after a divorce and child custody order. And some of that is unavoidable. Just like the parents are likely to be seeing their children less, there will be some natural cascading effect from this that impacts the grandparents. However, there are situations that are more serious that could indicate a grandparents’ rights case needs to be filed.
If you are not able to see your grandchildren at all or feel that one or both parents are intentionally sabotaging your access to or relationship with your grandchildren, it’s a good idea to talk to an lawyer about a grandparents’ rights case. In most cases, you want to attempt to file your case as soon as possible because allowing too much to pass can change what the courts are looking at as far as the established relationship and the best interests of the children.
What Should I Do If the Parents Aren’t Letting Me See My Grandchildren?
The grandparent-grandchild relationship is a special one, and the courts recognize this by providing guidelines for grandparent rights and a process for grandparents to seek legal access to their grandchildren through the courts. If a divorce has impacted your ability to maintain a relationship with your grandchildren, it’s important to do the following.
While it’s normal to be upset and even angry about being denied access to your grandchildren, it’s important to stay as calm as possible. Getting frustrated or expressing your anger may be used against you if you end up going to court for grandparents’ rights. You want to be able to show that you have tried to facilitate a relationship, respected the parents’ wishes, and done everything possible in the best interests of the children.
Attempt to Stay in Contact
If you are planning on pursuing a grandparents’ rights case, it’s important to do your best to stay in the child’s life however possible. Even if the children’s parents don’t allow you to see them, you can make phone calls or send letters to the child. It’s very possible that the parents won’t answer or may not let the child have the letters but continued attempts to stay in contact and maintain that relationship can work in your favor.
If you are able to see the children, even on a limited basis, take advantage of those opportunities. Sometimes, a large part of a grandparents’ rights case can come down to precedent, with the court choosing to award rights that maintain the level of relationship the child is used to with the grandparents.
Talk With a Family Lawyer
One of the most important aspects of a grandparents’ rights case is talking to a family law lawyer. It’s important to understand exactly what your rights may be and how a grandparents’ rights case works before you decide to pursue one. You want to make sure that any decisions that are made are in the best interests of the child, and an lawyer can provide you with an unbiased opinion of your situation and legal options.
At Anthony Family Law, we know how important the grandparent-grandchild relationship is, and we bring our experience and knowledge to our client’s cases. Schedule an appointment by calling 647-933-2397 today to get more information on how grandparents’ rights work in Ontario and what you can expect from our firm.