Do grandparents have rights under the Family Law Act?
Technically grandparents or parents do not have rights under the family law act, only children do. However, grandparents are able to make application under the Family Law Act to have orders in place for their grandchildren to spend time with them or even just to have phone contact with them.
Why is there so much commentary about the notion of grandparents’ rights?
The Family Law Act set out who can make an application to the court for parenting orders. It includes parents, the child, a grandparent or any other person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child.
Even if you fall within the definition of who can make an application you will need to provide evidence to the court is that you have had a meaningful involvement in the child’s life.
One of the leading cases in this area neatly summarised this test as follows:
“… what is interesting about these cases is the common feature… that there has to be some relationship between, or involvement with, the child in a meaningful sense in order that the person who make the application can have standing.”
( Venkatesan & Pawar [ 2007] FMCAfam 1109 - as per Altobellie FM)
What can you do in order to get court orders for your grandchildren to spend time with you?
You can contact the parents and ask for time. If this does not work, you can request that they attend mediation with you. If they refuse to attend mediation, then you will be issued with a certificate named a Section 60I certificate. All parties are required to have section 60I certificate when commencing court proceedings. In some circumstances there are exceptions, such as an urgent application where children may be at risk of family violence or neglect.
If you reach an agreement with the parents at mediation, then you can file consent orders with the court. If the orders are breached in the future, then you can file a contravention application.