Many people believe that loving relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are necessary for the happiness of both groups. Sadly, family law advocates for grandparents’ rights say approximately 75,000 Ontario grandparents are estranged from their grandchildren. However, the Children’s Law Reform Amendment Act may provide some relief.
Bill 34 became part of the provincial law last December, and it requires courts to apply special considerations when it comes to granting grandparents access to their grandchildren. The goal is for family courts to recognise the important role grandparents can play in the lives of kids. While the lack of access in most cases follows messy divorces or broken relationships with children, some suggest mediation to resolve these issues.
Litigation is also an option, but it could cause a significant financial burden and might not improve the relationship between the parties. However, if court cannot be avoided, the judge is now able to proceed with the case and do something about the underlying issues. With the championed Bill 34 in place, the court can now make rulings based on the best interests of the child rather than the wishes of the parents.
In Ontario, both parties are entitled to have legal counsel present during mediation — not only to protect their rights but also to provide valuable input. A qualified family law mediator can facilitate negotiations that will utilise communication and compromise to come to mutual agreements. An added benefit might be an improvement in the relationships between grandparents and parents, which — in turn — may well be in the best interests of the children. Source: Hamilton – CBC News, “Why 75,000 Ontario grandparents don’t get to see their grandkids“, Lauren Pelley, April 16, 2017