Understanding Extended Family & Grandparents' Rights

It takes many people to successfully raise a child. This may include the close relationships children build with their grandparents. So, when parents divorce or separate, you may have legitimate concerns as a grandparent about how to maintain contact with the children you love and have cared for.

Fortunately, the law understands that it often takes a village to raise a child. At Westside Family Law, we do, too. We help grandparents and other non-guardians understand and exercise their options for maintaining meaningful relationships with the children they care about. The first word in family law is "family" — and that means all branches of your family tree.

When Parents And Grandparents Cannot Agree

A child's well-being may be put at risk when the child's parents separate and one parent cuts off contact with family members. In the best-case scenario, sharing your concerns with your grandchild's parent may be enough to ensure ongoing contact with your grandchild. In terms of the law, parents have the authority to determine whom their children have contact with.

Sometimes, however, nothing less than a family order from the Court will work to re-establish or preserve contact with your grandchildren. Even pursuing an order from the Court has no guarantees, especially if you and the child's parent do not get along. The Court may find such volatility harmful to the child's best interests. It will be up to you to prove otherwise.

Our lawyers can help. We share the Court's concern in protecting the best interests of the children you love — which may well include ongoing contact and support from you. We will listen to your concerns and outline possible solutions such as:

  • Negotiating certain conditions for contact
  • Scheduling supervised visits
  • Determining specific times or places for visits

Ultimately, putting these details down on paper may be what eases the tension between grandparents and parents during an already difficult time. If so, then everybody wins, especially the children you all love.

We will be upfront with you about what's in the art of the possible. We know you care about your grandchildren and want what's best for them. Our lawyers do, too.

Establishing Guardianship As A Family Relative Or A Grandparent

Unlike establishing contact with grandchildren, a grandparent or relative cannot become a child's legal guardian by agreement. He or she can become a child's guardian only through a Court order or a will.

Grandparents and other relatives seek guardianship for a variety of reasons. Parents may have addiction issues or may be serving time in jail. They could also have passed away or they need to move for the military or other reasons. In any of these scenarios, the Court will grant orders to establish guardianship if it will protect the child's best interests. If you wish to establish guardianship, you will need to prove that your involvement will meet this standard.

Our lawyers can guide you through the requirements to meet this burden. There are several forms to fill out authorizing background checks, detailing your existing relationship with the child and outlining your plan for caring for him or her. Most cases hinge on the details included in these forms. Therefore, you want experienced counsel to ensure that your application matches what the Court looks for — experience our firm can provide.

You May Have Options — We'll Help You Explore Them

Maintaining relationships with your grandchildren, nieces or nephews following their parents' divorce or separation can be difficult, but not impossible. To learn more about your options as a grandparent, we invite you to contact our office in Vancouver by email or by calling 604-800-8853.