Perth Family Law Grandparents’ & Grandchildren’s Rights

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

Perth Grandparents’ Rights

Separation and divorce can impact how much time a grandchild spends with their grandparents. Sometimes, grandparents may see grandchildren less or be cut off from them post-separation.

Grandparents’ presence is important as children adapt to the changes associated with separation.

They listen to and communicate with their grandchildren. They help grandchildren maintain connections to family culture and history. And they often know and want what is in their grandchild’s best interest.

Australian Family Law recognises this and tries to protect this important bond.

Do Grandparents have legal rights to grandchildren in Australia?

When we talk about grandparents’ rights, we are also talking about children’s rights.

The Family Law Act 1975 always prioritises the child’s best interests. It outlines that it is a child’s right to know and be cared for by both parents, and others significant to their care, welfare and development.

This includes grandparents and other significant family members.

However, this does not mean that grandparents (or indeed, parents) have an automatic right to spend time with their grandchildren. Grandparents have standing to seek Orders from the Courts that their grandchildren live with or spend time with them.

These options are possible whether the child’s parents are separated or together. They also apply whether the parents were married, in a de facto relationship, or never lived together.

What should I do if I can’t see my grandchildren? – Perth Grandparents’ Rights

In some cases, grandparents are cut off from their grandchildren post-separation. One or both parents may try to stop the grandparents from having any contact with grandchildren. This is usually not in the children’s best interests. 

The Court tries to ensure that children get to know and spend time with their grandparents.

If this is the case for you, read on.

Who can apply for parenting orders? – Perth Grandparents’ Rights

As a grandparent, you can make an application for parenting orders (custody) in the Family Court.

Section 65(C) of the Family Law Act 1975 outlines that grandparents, or any person concerned with the child’s care, welfare and development can apply for parenting orders (custody).

Grandparents can bring an application to the Court as an Applicant under Section 69(2)(c) of the Family Law Act. Or they can file an application as a Second or Third Respondent intervening in a parenting dispute.

Parenting orders address parental responsibilities. Section 84(2) of the Family Court Act 1997 (WA) outlines that a parenting order may deal with one or more of the following:

  • the person or persons with whom a child is to live;
  • the time a child is to spend with another person or other persons;
  • the allocation of parental responsibility for a child;
  • 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;
  • the communication a child is to have with another person or other persons;
  • maintenance of a child;
  • any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child.

Section 64(B) of the Family Law Act 1975 similarly outlines the scope of a parenting order.

The Family Court can also allocate full parental responsibility to grandparents. This is done by filing a Form 11 Application for Consent Orders. 

Going to mediation – Perth Grandparents’ Rights

The Family Law Act promotes the resolution of family law disputes through mediation.  Mediation is less expensive and takes less of an emotional toll than going to court.

It involves all parties sitting down with a mediator to determine the child’s best interests. The parties can agree to Orders whereby the child spends time with or lives with the grandparents.

We can often resolve matters around Grandparents’ rights through mediation.

What the Court will consider – Perth Grandparents’ Rights

The Court will make an order for the child to live with or spend time with the grandparents if they consider it to be in the child’s best interests.

When making an Order for a child to live with or spend time with grandparents, the Court will consider:

  • How much time the grandparents have spent with the children;
  • If the grandparents have been actively involved in their care in the past;
  • The grandparents’ current relationship with the children;
  • The practicality of time being spent with the grandchildren;
  • Risk factors, including evidence of abuse or neglect;
  • Whether the parent is unwilling, unable, or lacks the capacity to care for the child.

When to contact a family lawyer – Perth Grandparents’ Rights

Are your grandchildren’s best interests met? Do you get to spend time with them on a regular basis? Do you hold concern for their safety and wellbeing? 

If these are concerns for you, 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 an application to spend time with or have custody of your grandchildren

Before your first appointment

Before your first appointment, you can email us about your situation. We read all about your Grandparents and Grandchildren family law matter before meeting with you. This service is free.

Your background email could include the following:

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

Our experience

We are passionate about the importance of grandparents in the lives of grandchildren. We have helped many grandparents with custody over the years. 

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.

Let’s figure it out together

For practical advice on what you can do next, write to us below and we can arrange your free pre-read and first appointment at a reduced rate. Alternatively, you can write to us directly at info@bodekers.com.au.

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