Perth Family Law Grandparent’s & Grandchildren’s Rights

August 12, 2014 – at 3:43 am – by Bodekers Family Lawyers

Perth Grandparents’ Rights

Family Law in Australia recognises that Grandparents are special people in children’s lives. A grandparent provides for their grandchild’s physical and emotional needs. This support is vital during separation, post-separation and divorce.

Raising children post-separation is an important job and grandparents can and do help. Grandparents have been parents, and are aware of the responsibilities of parenthood. They listen to their grandchildren and communicate with them. They understand the effects of changes in children’s lives and foster a close and stable bond. This bond is important as children adapt to the changes that separation and divorce bring.

Grandparents usually know and want what is in the best interests of their grandchildren. They can also help their grandchildren maintain connections after separation. This includes learning about their family history and culture.

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – Do you see your Grandchildren enough?

In some cases, grandparents are cut off from their grandchildren. One or both parents may try to stop the grandparents from having any contact.

This is usually not in the children’s best interests. Family law in Western Australia tries to protect the bond between grandparents and children. The courts try to ensure that children get to know and spend time with their grandparents.

The Court considers risk factors when deciding a child’s time spent with grandparents.

For example, sometimes children are not receiving adequate nutrition or accommodation. The child may not attend school at all. In these instances, it may be in the best interests of the child to live with or spend time with their grandparents. The Family Court can make an order for this.

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – Grandparents’ Custody Rights

Did you know that as a grandparent you can apply for custody? Grandparents can use the Family Law Act 1975 or the Family Court Act 1997 to apply for court orders that their grandchildren live or spend time with them. This is possible whether the parents of the children are together or separated.

The Family Law Act 1975 mentions that grandparents can apply for orders to do with their grandchildren. However, it is important to know that this does not mean that grandparents (or indeed, parents) have an automatic right to time with the children.

The Family Law Act 1975 makes it clear that ‘the best interests of the child’ are put first when it comes to decisions about parenting. Under this act, it is the child’s right to know and be cared for by both parents and others significant to their care, welfare and development. This can include grandparents and other relatives.

If you are not seeing your grandchildren or are not permitted by the parents to see them, you can seek an Order from the Family Court of Western Australia.

You can apply for custody or to spend time with your grandchildren if their parents were married or in a de facto relationship. This can also apply if their parents never lived together at all.

Family law has arguably made gaining custody easier for grandparents.

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – Mediation

We can often resolve these matters through mediation. This is less expensive and takes less of an emotional toll than litigation, or going to court. This can lead to the best outcomes for all parties.

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – Parenting Orders

Grandparents can also apply for parenting orders (custody) of their grandchildren.

Parenting orders are a set of directions made by the Family Court of Western Australia. They address parental responsibilities.

As outlined in section 84 (2) of the Family Court Act 1997 (WA), a parenting order may deal with one or more of the following:

  1. the person or persons with whom a child is to live;
  2. the time a child is to spend with another person or other persons;
  3. the allocation of parental responsibility for a child;
  4. if 2 or more persons are to share parental responsibility for a child, the form of consultations those persons are to have with one another about decisions to be made in the exercise of that responsibility;
  5. the communication a child is to have with another person or other persons;
  6. maintenance of a child;
  7. any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child…

The “person” referred to in section 84 (2) may be a grandparent of the child.

(Similar law is set out in Section 64 B of the Family Law Act.)

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – When to contact a family lawyer

Are your grandchildren’s best interests met? Do you get to spend time with them on a regular basis? If not, we may be able to help you resolve this.

If you are cut off from grandchildren or hold concern for their safety and wellbeing, you should seek legal advice.

We can tell you about your grandchildren’s right to spend time with you. We can assist or represent you with a family law application to spend time with or have custody of your grandchildren.

The advice you need will depend on your situation. For instance, do you get to spend school holidays with your grandchildren? Are you able to see them at Christmas time? What time do you want to spend with them? Are there risks involved in them living with their parents (custody)?

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – Prior to your first appointment

Prior to your first appointment, you may send us an email outlining your situation. We read all about your Grandparents and Grandchildren family law matter before we meet with you. This service is free.

Your background email could include the following:

  1. Your relationship with your grandchildren;
  2. How much time you have spent with them throughout their lives;
  3. What type of things you have done or do together;
  4. What you think is in their best interest;
  5. When you last saw them;
  6. Whether you think there are any risk factors with them living with or spending time with their parents;
  7. Any arrangements that are in place for you to spend time with them;
  8. Your proposals for spending time with them;

Any other information that is relevant to your family law matter.

If there are court proceedings on foot you can email us any court documents, you may have.

Perth Grandparents’ Rights – Our Experience in Family Law

Our Legal Practitioner Director Shannon Bodeker has over 15 years’ experience working exclusively in family law. She has helped many grandparents reach a favourable outcome with their family law matters.

Please note this is not family law advice. It is important to seek specific family law advice. Each family law case is different.

Email Shannon Bodeker directly at shannon@bodekers.com.au now for your free pre-read and first appointment at a reduced rate.