It is a sad reality that sometimes families don’t always see eye to eye and people find themselves in situations where they no longer speak to some members of their family or in-laws. For some families, the falling-out can last for years and often this can mean that grandparents don’t get to see their grandchildren.
As with all family law matters that relate to children, it is necessary to take steps to resolve any disagreement by attending mediation. This is a good way to discuss what proposals you might have and work to an outcome that suits everyone.
If mediation doesn’t resolve the disagreement, a Court application may be the appropriate next step.
Under The Family Law Act, a person can seek Court orders regarding children if they are:
- Either or both of the child’s parents; or
- The child; or
- A grandparent of the child; or
- Any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.
The last point may seem like anyone can file an Application but this is not the case. The Court is very strict when deciding who can successfully apply for orders if that person is not a parent or a grandparent.
There have been many cases before the Courts where Judges have made orders for children to spend regular time with their grandparents even if the parents and the grandparents don’t think they will be able to get along in the future.
When a court is asked to make orders such as those, it will always consider what is in the children’s best interest over the rights of the grandparents and the possible views of the parents. When deciding what is in the child’s best interests, the child’s safety and wellbeing will always be the most important matter.
The court often takes the view that a child has the right to spend time with their maternal and paternal families and will carefully consider an application by grandparents asking to spend time with their grandchildren.
In a case before the Family Court of Australia grandparents had made an application to the Court asking for orders that they spend time with their grandchildren aged 9 and 7. The grandparents had not spent time with their grandchildren for nearly 6 years, but had tried many times to see their grandchildren and felt they had little option left but to seek assistance from the Court. The court found that as there were no risk factors to the children in spending time with their grandparents it made orders for the children to regularly see their grandparents.
If you are a grandparent seeking to spend time with your grandchildren or if you have any further questions relating a family law matter, please contact Candice Bell on (02) 4944 3322.