Grandparents play a significant role in a child’s life, from being a connection to the child’s family history to caregivers to friends. Traditionally, grandparents have not been granted transparent and detailed rights regarding contact in Ontario; but that changed recently.
Grandparents’ rights hinge on whether the matter is governed by the Children’s Law Reform Act or the Divorce Act.
Grandparents’ rights are not automatic, though; you must apply for them through the court or try to resolve the issues with a qualified mediator.
In 2016, Bill 34 (Section 21(1) of the Children’s Law Reform Act) was passed, giving grandparents the right to argue for access during custody disputes.
In March 2021, changes were made to the Divorce Act to continue to glorify the best interests of a child as the top emphasis. In addition to assessing a child’s physical, emotional and psychological protection, the Act also handles the nature and strength of the child’s relationships with parents, grandparents, and other significant people in their life.
Section 16.5 of the Divorce Act allows “a person other than a spouse,” including a grandparent, to seek a contact order for time, in person or otherwise, with grandchildren.
When deciding grandparent’s rights under Children’s Law Reform Act, some of the following elements must be evaluated when determining what is in the child’s best interests:
|• The child’s necessities, considering the child’s age and stage of development such as the child’s need for stability.|
|• The nature and strength of the child’s connection with each parent, each of the child’s siblings, grandparents and any other person who plays a crucial role in the child’s life.|
|• Any family violence or abuse and its impact on the child.|
|• According to the Divorce Act, some of the following factors must be assessed when deciding what is in the child’s best interest.|
|• The child’s needs, given the child’s age and stage of development, such as the child’s need for stability.|
|• The nature and strength of the child’s relationship with each spouse, each of the child’s siblings and grandparents and any other person who plays a critical role in the child’s life.|
|• Any family violence/abuse and its impact on, among other things, the capacity and willingness of any person who engaged in the family violence to care for and meet the needs of the child.|
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