It is not uncommon for grandparents to find themselves stuck in the middle of family law disputes. Sadly, the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren can be interrupted significantly by the child’s parents divorcing or separating. The relationship can also be interrupted by an estrangement between the grandparent and their own son or daughter. On the other hand, it is also common for grandparents to become the de facto parents of their grandchild because the parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child.
The Family Law Act acknowledges the importance of a child maintaining a relationship with his or her grandparents. In making decisions about a child’s care and welfare, the court will consider the nature of the child’s relationship with his or her grandparents, and the likely effect of any separation from his or her grandparents.
Grandparents are also able to apply for parenting orders under the Act. If a grandparent thinks, for example, that their grandchild’s best interests would be served by coming to live with them (or continuing to do so), the grandparent can apply for a court order to that effect. The overriding principle that the court considers is the best interests of the child. It does not matter that the child’s parent or parents want to take the child back, or to continue caring for them. The court is not concerned about the particular relationship involved – a parent does not necessarily have a better “claim” or “right” to care for their child than the child’s grandparents. It is the facts and circumstances that matter.
If you have concerns about the care or welfare of a grandchild, or wish to formalise the arrangements under which you are caring for your grandchild or grandchildren, we suggest that you contact Dewar Legal today. Dewar Legal is law firm based in Adelaide, South Australia. We practice in all areas of family law. We would be happy to assist.
Please feel free to visit the Family Law section of our website to learn more.
We can be contacted on (08) 8311 3964 or by clicking here.