Jim and Judy are a happily married, elderly couple, with several children and grandchildren. Their family is close and they have spent many days taking care of their grandson while their son, Alex, and his wife, Amanda are at work. Unfortunately their son and daughter in-law experience trouble in their marriage and separate.
Alex rarely sees his son, and Amanda refuses to allow Jim and Judy to see their grandchild at all. They are heartbroken, but what can they do? Unfortunately, the fear experienced by many grandparents in this situation is not without reason as the law in Alberta does not provide grandparents with a RIGHT to see their grandchildren. The child’s parent or guardian has significant decision making power over whether a grandparent will have time with the child. This is not necessarily the end of the story however. When the guardians of the child are the child’s parents, the Family Law Act of Alberta allows a grandparent to apply to the court for contact time with their grandchild if one of the following applies: The parents have separated, and that separation is why there has not been any or sufficient contact with the child; or One of the parents has passed away, and that death is why there has not been any or sufficient contact with the child. In this case, a judge will consider many factors and will ultimately come to a decision if contact between the child and the grandparent is in the best interests of the child. If the lack of contact between the grandparent and child is not caused by separation or death, or the guardians of the child are not that child’s parents, a grandparent does not have an automatic right to apply to the court. First they must receive leave of the court to apply for contact with the child. In either of these cases, speaking to the family members involved is usually the best course of action. If that fails, there may be a variety of legal avenues available to explore. If you require assistance with this issue, please feel free to contact our office and arrange to speak with one of our experienced Calgary lawyers.