Grandparents play an important role for many children well into their adulthood, and many grandparents treasure the time they get to spend with their grandchild(ren). Unfortunately, the separation of parents and other life events can have an unforeseen impact on the relationship between grandparents and their grandchild(ren). In some circumstances, family members are unable to agree on the contact grandparents may have with their grandchild(ren). In Alberta, the Family Law Act allows grandparents to apply to the court for an order for contact between themselves and their grandchild(ren).
Depending on the circumstances of the family, a grandparent may or may not require leave of the Court prior to bringing an application for contact time with their grandchild. A grandparent of a child does not require the permission of the court to make an application for contact time if:
a) The child(ren)’s parents are their guardians, and the guardians are living separate and apart, or one of the guardians has passed away; and
b) The grandparent’s contact with the child has been interrupted by the separation of the guardians or the death of a guardian.
If the grandparent does not meet the above criteria, they will require the permission of the applicable court in Alberta prior to bringing any application for contact time with their grandchild(ren). In determining whether to grant a grandparent permission to bring an application, the court will consider the bests interests of the child(ren), and this will entail an analysis of:
a) The significance of the relationship between the child and grandparent, if any; and
b) The necessity of making an order to facilitate contact between the child and grandparent.
If/when a grandparent makes an application for contact time, a Court in Alberta will consider whether the proposed contact is in the best interests of the child, including whether:
a) The denial of contact between the child(ren) and grandparent may jeopardize the child’s physical, psychological or emotional health; and whether
b) The child(ren)’s guardian has been unreasonable in denying the child(ren) contact with the grandparent.
In circumstances where in-person contact between a child(ren) and their grandparents may be untenable, a Court in Alberta may also make an order for contact via oral or written communications, and increasingly, via video conferencing technology.
If you are struggling to negotiate contact time with your grandchild(ren), the lawyers at Family Central Law Office LLP are able to help you determine whether a court application may be appropriate. Please contact us today for a free consultation with our family lawyers by calling our office at 587-392-7970 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by clicking on our consultation page.