Grandparents and other family members in Family Law matters

Date: Mar 07, 2009
Document Type: Article

In Australia, many parents make arrangements for their children to spend time with grandparents and other family members on a regular basis without thinking much about it. If everyone lives close to each other this might be weekday dinners, Sunday lunch, picnics, after school care or other child minding. If some family members live further away the time could include weekend and school holiday visits. This time is valuable for both the children and the family members they spend time with.

Unfortunately though, in some families there is a breakdown in the relationship between parents and grandparents or other family members. This relationship breakdown can lead to a lack of communication and ultimately a refusal by the parents to allow their children to spend any time with the other party.

Recently, we acted for a client who had suffered an extreme relationship breakdown with her daughter. Prior to this relationship breakdown, our client had spent large amounts of time each week caring for her daughter’s 5 year old son, and this pattern had been in place since the child was born. Our client was distraught that she was being refused time with her grandson, and she was worried about the effect on her grandson of her sudden absence from his life. She wanted to know if the law provided any way for her to again become involved in her grandson’s life, even though her daughter was not allowing it. We were able to advise that the law in Australia enables a Court to make parenting orders in favour of:
  • a grandparent of a child,
  • any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.

This means there is a specific provision for grandparents to make an application for orders relating to their grandchild. In some cases, other extended family members could also apply on the basis that they were concerned with the “care, welfare or development” of a child. In the above scenario, some of the types of orders our client might apply for are:

1. an order that deals with the person with whom a child is to live,
2. an order which deals with the amount of time a child spends with another person,
3. an order which deals with the manner in which a child is to communicate with another person,
4. an order which deals with the process to be used for resolving disputes about the terms or operation of the order.

For assistance with Family Law matters, phone Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner of Craddock Murray Neumann, on (02) 82684000. We have Family Lawyers who are certified by the Law Society of New South Wales as Accredited Specialists in Family Law. 
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