Grandparents can often be heavily involved in their grandchildren’s lives, and are often some of the most significant relationships a child has outside of their parents. We are sometimes contacted by grandparents wanting to know what their rights are in relation to their grandchildren, particularly when the child’s parents have separated or the grandparent’s relationship with their child has broken down.

Do grandparents have a right to see their grandchild?

Under the Family Law Act 1975, nobody has a ‘right’ to spend time with, or care for, a child. This includes grandparents and the child’s parents. Rather, section 60CA of the Act outlines that there is one paramount consideration for the Court when making a parenting order: the best interests of the child.

What is in the best interests of a child is different in every case. Section 60CC outlines that there are two primary factors when considering the best interests of a child: the benefit for that child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, and the need to protect the child from any harm.

While nobody has a ‘right’ to spend time with a child, the act specifically mentions the child’s relationships with their parents as well as their grandparents, when appropriate.

Is it in the child’s best interests to see their grandparent?

However, the Act also specifies other considerations for the Court to take into account. Grandparents are specifically mentioned as a consideration throughout the section, including:

S60CC(3)(b): the nature of the child’s relationship with other persons, including grandparents;

S60CC(3)(d): the likely effect of any changes in the child’s life, including separation from grandparents with whom they have been living;

S60CC(3)(f): the capacity of any other person, including a grandparent, to provide for the child’s needs (including emotional and intellectual).

Other than these specific sections mentioning grandparents, a child’s relationship with their grandparent is also often relevant when considering the child’s views and wishes, and may be particularly relevant when the child identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Can I apply for orders?

Under s65C of the Family Law Act, parenting orders can be applied for by either parent, the child themselves, another person concerned with the welfare of the child or a grandparent.

In summary, the Court will always make orders that it feels are in the best interests of the child in that particular case. While grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren, they are recognised in the legislation as significant people in a child’s life and an important consideration for the Court when making Orders.

What to do next?

If you would like to discuss parenting or any other family law matter, contact us on 8391 8411 to book a free 30-minute consultation with us to discuss what steps you should take next.