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Do grandparents have access rights to my child?

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Do grandparents have access rights to my child?
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Do grandparents have access rights to my child?
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Reviewed: 
November 30, 2017
Answer

Grandparents usually see their grandchildren when they are with the children’s parents. But sometimes grandparents may want to apply to the court for custody or access. They may do this:

  • after the parents separate or divorce
  • after a parent dies
  • after a parent dies and the surviving parent moves with the grandchildren to another place
  • if they are alienated from a parent and don’t speak with and see them
  • if they looked after the grandchildren for a period of time but the grandchildren have returned to their parents

Grandparents have a legal right to apply to the court to ask for custody or access to their grandchildren.

The judge uses a legal test called the best interests of the child to decide who spends time with your child and for how long. In Ontario, the best interests of the child test includes looking at the relationship between the grandparents and the child.

The judge also looks at the reasons you don’t want the grandparents to have access and whether:

  • the grandparents have acted unreasonably
  • the grandparents have acted in ways that are not in your child's best interests
  • the grandparents are making unreasonable demands for access
  • there is a history of a strong, positive relationship between the grandparents and your child
  • the grandparents have been your child's caregiver
  • your child has lived with the grandparents
  • the grandparents are likely to play a positive role in your child's life

If you and your child's grandparents don't agree on access, it's important to keep your child out of the conflict. Just because you don't like the grandparents – whether they are your parents or your partner's parents – it doesn't mean your child shouldn’t see them. And never speak badly or negatively about the grandparents in front of your child.

If your child has a good relationship with their grandparents, it's usually in their best interests to continue that relationship.

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