When you get a divorce and children are involved, often so are other people in their lives, people who may want contact with them after the divorce. These people, who may be grandparents, relatives, friends or simply non-guardians who want to have a relationship with your child, may have the legal right to petition for visitation privileges.
People who have played a significant role in your child’s life may want to continue contact. When parents become separated, this can become complicated because you may not have a good relationship with these people, even though your child does.
Your first option should always be to negotiate or mediate the situation. If this person wants to have a good relationship with the child he or she needs to try to work things out with you, the custodial parent. This is always the best way around the problem of your child continuing to be friendly with a non-custodial person.
The non-guardian person will need to apply to the appropriate court for a “contact order” that will permit him or her to have the contact with the child that he or she desires. This is the second avenue that a person needs to take to see your child.
According to the Family Law Act, grandparents have an unrestricted right to apply for contact with their grandchild. Non-guardian parents also have this right. Others, such as friends or aunts and uncles, need to apply to the court for permission to even ask for a contact order.
The court will consider three important aspects for granting permission for a contact order:
— Is this in the best interests of the child?
— What is the child’s physical, mental or emotional health going to be if access is denied?
— Is the denial of the custodial parent unreasonable?
Getting educated about your rights under the law and acting them is the purview of every parent.
Source: Calgary Legal Guidance, “Contact with a Child by a Non-Guardian,” accessed Aug. 04, 2015