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The bond between grandparents and grandkids is a special one. Most grandparents enjoy doting on their grandkids, treating them with love and care. 

When the relationship is good, grandparents can even enjoy a co-parenting role. They can assist the parents with childcare and help provide emotional and financial assistance.

In some cases, however, parents can forbid grandparents from seeing their grandkids. In some cases, this can be a reasonable decision. But sometimes, this can be due to personal disputes, big or small.

No loving grandparent wishes to experience estrangement from their family, especially their grandkids. Let us discuss the rights grandparents have to remain in their grandkids’ lives.

The Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act consider grandparents’ rights when deciding decision-making responsibility and visitation. This consideration, of course, is alongside the court’s decision regarding the child’s best interests.

The Children’s Law Reform Act applies when the child has unmarried parents. It can also apply when the parents decide on separation instead of divorce. Meanwhile, the Divorce Act is for when parents are already divorced or seeking a divorce.

Parents cannot arbitrarily cut their kids off from their grandparents over a disagreement. If the dispute has no bearing on the child’s well-being, they can stay in contact.

Grandparents have the right to apply for visiting rights and decision-making responsibility, as long as it is in the child’s best interests. 

In dire situations, the grandparents can even seek the Court’s approval for sole decision-making responsibility and even custody.  Usually the Courts will grant this if the grandparents can prove that the child’s parents are unfit to exercise decision-making responsibility or to have custody/parenting time over the child.  The simplest example to this is when both parents are abusive or are drug addicts.

Visiting Rights of Grandparents in Canada

In ideal situations, there would be no need for grandparents to apply for visiting rights. Still, every family has unique dynamics with the potential for complicated relationships.

If you, as a grandparent, ever need to apply for visiting rights, the court will need to consider why you were barred by the parent’s in the first place and whether or not your presence would negatively impact the child. No matter the situation, the judge will put the child’s interests first.

The court does acknowledge the vital role of good grandparent-grandchild relationships. Visitation allows grandparents and grandkids to form healthy bonds. If the grandparents’ intentions are in good faith, the judge would most likely approve.

Depending on the intricacies of the case, the court can limit visitation to the following:

  • Telephone or webcam conversations
  • Letters
  • Family get-togethers.

And if the judge rules it is detrimental to the child’s welfare, they could also order to stop all contact.

Can You Refuse Grandparents’ Visitation Rights? 

If you can prove that having your child’s grandparents in their life would negatively impact your child’s welfare, certainly, you can refuse the grandparent’s visitation rights.  When necessary, the court can completely bar grandparents from contacting their grandkids. This will most likely happen in alarming situations that endanger the child. Parents could also make a stronger case if they provide serious reasons to cease contact.

Any situation that harms the child would be enough to reject grandparents’ visitation. Below are some cases when it would be best for the child to cut off contact with grandparents:

  • The child themself objects to seeing their grandparents. It is a clear sign that this attempt at a relationship is not in the child’s interests. If the child is first to reject the request, it’s time for the grandparents to stand down.
  • The parents and grandparents have an irreparable personal relationship. Putting the child in high conflict situations could cause more harm than good. Perpetual conflict could arise when parents and grandparents cannot set aside personal disputes.
  • The child is in danger when in contact with grandparents. If a grandparent is abusive or incapable of caring for the child, it would be best to disallow contact. The child’s welfare is paramount in all situations.
  • The grandparents are actively trying to replace the parents’ role as primary caregivers. The grandparents are actively trying to hinder the parents’ role as primary caregivers. Unless proven unfit, a child’s parents are still in charge of their welfare. If the grandparents try undermining the parents’ authority, the court will deny contact.
Divorce Divorce means a legal change of one’s status from married to single. That seems straightforward. 

But couples will also need to resolve other legal issues connected to the marriage. This includes decision-making responsibility, property division, and child/spousal support.

Father’s Rights Despite cultural stereotypes, the law should treat fathers as equal to mothers. This is important in decision-making responsibility battles when the parents have divorced or separated. Still, statistics do show that mothers are more likely to gain sole responsibility for a child. 

It might be a bit more difficult for fathers, but they have as much of a right to assert responsibility in the eyes of the law.

Decision-making Responsibility & Parenting Time Decision-making responsibility means making decisions for a child’s welfare. This can include healthcare, education, culture, language, and religion. 

Parenting time is the time a child spends under your care. 

A parent may have both decision-making responsibility and parenting time.  

Decision-making responsibility may also mean specific aspects in a child’s welfare.  For example, you may have the decision-making responsibility for your child’s education while your co-parent may have that responsibility for religion.   

Whether or not you have sole or shared decision-making responsibility, you should always put your child’s best interest first while considering not to spite or prejudice your co-parent.  



Pro Tip

Your child’s welfare should always be your top priority. So, if anyone is putting their welfare at risk, you need to ensure that your kids are protected.



Protecting Your Children from their Grandparents

Conflicts between parents and grandparents can sometimes be inevitable. Still, we should always be mindful of how these can affect the child’s development. Childhood is a critical time in one’s life. Any major events they experience can affect their future.

As a parent, you only want what’s best for your child. If you believe and you can prove that your child’s grandparents are a danger to your child’s welfare, you can take some legal measures to stop the grandparents from having contact with your child.  It is your right and responsibility as a parent to put your child’s well-being first.

If you’re looking for independent legal advice, our family lawyers are willing to help. You can pop by one of our offices throughout  Aurora, Barrie, Downtown Toronto, Mississauga, North York, and Scarborough. 

You can also call us at  (844) 769-0737 or  1-844-769-0737 or contact us online for an initial consultation. If you have other concerns, Gelman & Associates also covers these areas. You don’t have to face these problems alone.


 Grandparent’s Rights: An Overview FAQs

FAQ: Grandparent’s Rights in Canada: An Overview

Building and maintaining a harmonious relationship with your grandkids’ parents is key. It could take a good while and usually starts even before the grandkids are born. You should be able to show you are a capable caregiver and a source of emotional support.

Parents should prove that a relationship with the grandparent would endanger the child. It might be in the form of health risks, undermining parents’ authority, or even abuse.

Yes, if they can also provide proof against the negative accusations. It’s also helpful to show the court their capability to care and provide for the child.


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