The definition of “family” has changed over the years, especially during recent times. What hasn’t changed, however, are the significant contributions many grandparents make in the lives of their grandchildren. Despite that, grandparents are frequently left on the outside looking in when child custody arrangements are made in Alberta and in other provinces across Canada. One group and a sympathetic politician are seeking to change that.
A group called Alienated Grandparents Anonymous has been fighting for the rights of grandparents in custody cases since 2011. It is their belief that too many grandparents are shut out of custody proceedings in court and often end up removed from the lives of their grandchildren. They assert that in the province of Ontario, where the issue is currently before the provincial legislature, some 75,000 grandparents have been alienated from their grandchildren. Right now, grandparents enjoy legislated rights in custody arrangements in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and Yukon.
Bill 34, a private member’s bill put forward by an NDP Member of Provincial Parliament, seeks to change that situation in Ontario. The Bill would allow for grandparents to have the right to access their grandchildren where appropriate. The AGA believes that grandparents can offer grandchildren support and stability during difficult times.
Though Alberta grandparents do not currently have specific rights in child custody cases, they can petition the court for access if it has been denied. Perhaps a better solution for divided families is to include any suitable grandparents in the custody discussions. A family law lawyer can assist with the discussions and help families make arrangements that are best for the children.
Source: Sault Online, “Seniors Calling. Bill 34 is for Grandparents & Grandchildren.“, Lynne Brown, Nov 10, 2016