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What rights do grandparents have?

Grandparents often play an important role in the life of their grandchildren and are specifically recognised in the Family Law Act, which provides:

Children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (such as grandparents and other relatives).

It’s important to notice, though, that this is framed as the right of the child, and not the right of the grandparent.

When the relationship between parents breaks down, this impacts on grandparents.  Most often, grandparents will be in the background, supporting their son or daughter through the separation, and having contact with their grandchildren during their son or daughter’s parenting time.  While this may mean spending less time with their grandchildren, at least their relationship is being maintained.

Less commonly, there are  situations that confront grandparents, such as:

Each of these situations presents practical and legal challenges.  Grandparents in these situations should seek legal advice, so they know their rights and obligations.  While very few grandparents ever end up taking court action about their grandchildren, knowing where you stand legally  is important for you and your grandchildren.