Each relationship is unique and so are the family dynamics. Relationship breakdown most often affects the wider extended family and grandparents in particular. In some relationships, grandparents are very involved in the day-to-day care of the children of the relationship  (grandchildren) and have an ongoing relationship with their grandchildren. So, despite the parents’ relationship breakdown, the grandparents may have expectations that their grandparent/grandchild relationship would remain unaffected. For this reason, the question about a Grandparents rights in a divorce is commonly asked to Family Lawyers. Here’s New South Lawyers’s Family Law share their advice on the subject.

A concerned Grandparents rights in a divorce 

It is sometimes unfortunate that when your child‘s relationship with their partner or spouse breaks down, this may cause a strain in your relationship with your child’s ex. This in itself may create obstacles with regard to your grandchildren maintaining an ongoing relationship with you, as a grandparent. Depending on your relationship with your grandchildren, you may not be comfortable with the idea of them becoming estranged from you and may have some valid concerns about the future of your relationship with your grandchildren.

What are my options as a Grandparent?

At law, there are options available to grandparents.  The new law following the amendment of the Family Law  Act, recognises that if it is safe and appropriate to do so, it is in a child’s best interest to have a relationship with other significant people in the child’s life including grandparents.

Noting that children are negatively affected by their parent’ separation and any ongoing conflict that stems from it, it is sensible for you, as a grandparent, to assist in minimising the children’s exposure to conflict. High-conflict relationships may negatively impact the children. In protecting the children from conflict, it is your role to consider your child and their ex’s feelings and emotional wellbeing. Where there are issues regarding the grandchildren’s relationship with you, you consider making genuine efforts, even if met with resistance, to reach an amicable agreement with your child and/or their ex. We note that in some families a grandparent may not get along with their child, but may enjoy a cordial relationship with their child’s ex which may cause the child to want to restrict the grandparent’s access to the grandchildren.

If private talks and negotiations are unproductive after reasonable attempts to reach an agreement, then you could consider family dispute resolution or mediation, in an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement with assistance from an experienced and qualified neutral third party known as a family dispute resolution practitioner or mediator. This is often successful where private negotiations have failed as a good mediator or family dispute resolution practitioner will assist all parties work through the issues.

In the event that mediation is unsuccessful, then you could consider filing an application with the Court for contact time with the affected grandchildren, as the last option as litigation is expensive and has adverse effects on children. From a legal perspective, it can also be challenging for you if you do not have parental responsibility and/or a meaningful relationship with your grandchildren. However, provided you have a meaningful relationship with your grandchildren, the court may be willing to consider that it is in your grandchildren’s best interests to maintain an ongoing relationship with you and may make orders to that effect, if they find it appropriate and safe to do so.

Grandparents beware!

Going to court may further strain your relationship with your child and/or your child’s ex and may cause them to restrict your contact with the children to that ordered by the Court. Resolving out of court by negotiation or mediation where possible, is the ideal as  it can lead to a solution that works for all.

However, we acknowledge that Court is sometimes inevitable and no experienced lawyer will shy from Court if it’s the best available option, after all else have failed and are subject to the facts of your case.

For more advice on a  Grandparents rights in a divorce, get in contact with New South Lawyers’ experienced Family Law team for legal assistance.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication.

To find out more, chat with a member of New South Lawyers' Family Law Team today.