Do you find it difficult or impossible to see your grandchildren anymore? Whether this is due to a family conflict, a move, a separation or a death in the family, there are options for grandparents who wish to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. However, the needs and wishes of the children must be at the heart of all decisions that concern them.
Your relationship with your grandchildren must be in their best interests
Your grandchildren have a right to have a relationship with you, whether it be through in-person or remote interactions. For you to stay in touch with them, it must be in their best interests.
A court can decide to limit or prevent contact between you and your grandchildren if it’s in their best interests. For example, this decision could be made if the relationship has a negative impact on the children’s well-being.
As a rule, the fact that you’re in conflict with their parents shouldn’t affect your relationship with your grandchildren. The same is true if their parents are separating. However, your conflict with the parents may be so severe that it has a negative impact on your grandchildren. In such a case, a court may decide that it’s not in your grandchildren’s best interests to stay in touch with you. The court may otherwise decide to limit your contacts.
Your grandchildren’s wishes may be the deciding factor
Your grandchildren’s wishes about whether they want to stay in touch with you have an impact on the decision a court makes. This impact varies depending on your grandchildren’s age.
14 years old or older
If your grandchildren are 14 years old or older, the court must respect their wishes. They have the right to decide not to see you anymore, even if you already have a judgment giving you “visiting rights”, such as weekly phone calls or overnight stays.
Under 14 years old
If your grandchildren are under 14 years old, the court can consider their views and preferences. The weight given to their opinions will depend on their age and maturity.
If your grandchildren are over 10 years old and refuse to see you, you must go through the court to get a judgment to stay in touch with them.
Options for maintaining contact with your grandchildren
You have options if you want to maintain a relationship with your grandchildren.
Mediation is a solution that can help you reach an agreement without going to court. During this process, a mediator will guide your discussions with your grandchildren’s parents and help find a solution that works for everyone. You’ll be able to discuss things such as whether the interactions should be in person or long distance and how often you’ll have contact with your grandchildren.
The mediator can then summarize everything in a written agreement.
If your grandchildren are between the ages of 10 and 13, a court might have to take the final decision.
Going to court
You can ask the court to give you the right to have contact with your grandchildren if you can’t come to an agreement with their parents. You can also apply to the court to have visiting rights if your grandchildren are between the ages of 10 and 13 and refuse to have contact with you.
You can apply to the court by yourself or with the help of a lawyer.
At trial, you will have to prove that it’s in your grandchildren’s best interests to maintain a relationship with you.