While the decisions of children’s parents will be given deference by the courts, grandparents have the right to make applications for access to their grandchildren. Section 59 of the Family Law Act authorizes the court to grant contact with the child to a person who is not a guardian, such as a grandparent. The court will make its decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Factors that may contribute to the court ordering contact between grandchild and grandparent include a strong existing relationship between the parties, the grandparents’ home offering stability and emotional wellbeing, and the child having their physiological needs met, such as healthy food being available. Factors that negate the court ordering contact include safety concerns, scheduling or transport concerns, or the child being exposed to family conflict or violence.
It’s important to note that grandparents are not entitled to access to the grandchild as a right. In Branconnier v. Branconnier, 2006 BCSC 2020, the twin boys’ mother reduced the time they were spending with their grandparents. The mother did so because the grandparents were spoiling the children with excessive sugary treats and gifts, and failing to provide a structured environment. The court held that the mother’s decision was reasonable and put the best interests of the children paramount.
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