British Columbia families in which grandparents have full access to their grandchildren are fortunate and must appreciate the privilege because some parents deny their children any contact with their grandparents. While there may be certain circumstances that justify such denial, many folks would simply want to have loving relationships with their grandkids. Such situations often arise when a couple files for divorce, and the custodial parent keeps the children away from the former spouse’s parents. Sadly, there are no legal grandparents’ rights, and visitation is at the parents’ discretion.
However, certain extenuating circumstances can lead to a court awarding the grandparents rights to their grandchildren — unfortunately, all are unhappy circumstances. Grandparents may receive permanent or temporary custody if both parents become unfit to care for their children. These could include alcohol or substance dependency, abuse or other reasons that threaten the safety of the children.
In the event of the death of both parents, grandparents may apply to get full custody or permission to adopt their grandchildren. However, there may be two sets of grandparents fighting to gain custody. It will be the task of the court to determine what will be in the best interest of the children.
However, the fact that there is no such thing as grandparents’ rights in British Columbia does not mean it is not worth an attempt. Any grandparents who want to establish ongoing relationships with their grandchildren may discuss the dilemmas with an experienced family law lawyer. The attorney will offer focused advice and likely do whatever is possible to make those wishes come true. A lawyer may even seek to arrange mediation between the disapproving parents and the grandparents to see if agreements can be reached which will benefit both grandparents and grandchildren.
Source: FindLaw Canada, “Do grandparents have legal rights to their grandchildren?“, Accessed on Jan. 13, 2017