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Grandparents and the Family Law Act

Are you aware of grandparents’ rights under the Family Law Act?

Parents are usually the main caregivers, but there are many cases where grandparents are involved.

  • As a grandparent, you may be the main carer for your grandchildren and need legal recognition.
  • Perhaps you have concerns about the welfare of your grandchildren in their current home?
  • Possibly your child (or their spouse / partner / ex-partner) has stopped you from seeing your grandchildren.

If you experience one or some of these issues, the Family Law Act can help you.

The Act recognises that it is important for children to have a relationship with their grandparents. Grandparents are specifically mentioned in the Act.

The following people can apply for a parenting order under the Act:

  • either or both of the child’s parents
  • the child
  • a grandparent of the child
  • any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child

For grandparents, it is possible to apply for a parenting order even if the parents of the children are together.  If you are worried about the home life of your grandchildren you might choose to do this.

However, grandparents’ rights do not automatically include a right to contact with the children. Even parents do not have automatic contact rights.

The ‘best interests of the child’ is the main consideration for Court decisions about parenting. The law and the Court recognise that relationships with grandparents and other relatives can be significant to a child’s wellbeing.

Going to Court is an expensive last resort. The Family Law Act requires you to attempt mediation (family dispute resolution) first. If all parties can agree a solution, that is generally in the best interests of the child.

Do you need advice about your grandchildren’s best interests, their relationships with you or your rights as a grandparent? Please contact our team.

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