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Family law process should consider grandparents desires

Many Alberta families are fortunate enough to include grandparents in their lives. However, sometimes those same grandparents are excluded from divorce proceedings, potentially to their detriment, and that of the children. Separating couples may wish to include their kid's grandparents in the family law process

A group known as Alienated Grandparents Anonymous is working to change the legal rights of grandparents in Ontario. As things stand now, grandparents there do not get any special consideration from judges during custody cases when it comes to access to the children, even if the parents have given up their own rights. It is the belief of the members that grandparents can offer vital support and comfort to children living through a difficult time.

A private member's bill has been introduced in the Ontario Legislature by an NDP Member of Provincial Parliament, the seventh such bill since 2005. It proposes changes to the Children's Law Reform Act that would give grandparents better legal footing in custody cases. An estimated 75,000 grandparents have been isolated from their grandchildren in that province.

Grandparents and children alike can often become unwilling pawns in a power struggle between divorcing men and women. In Alberta, grandparents may apply to the court for permission to access their grandchildren if it has been denied, though they have no specific rights to access. Where possible, a better solution would be for families to use the family law process to be inclusive of grandparents. A mediated settlement can be arrived at the takes into consideration both children and their grandparents. A family law firm may be able to help a family negotiate an arrangement that keeps everyone happy.

Source: CityNews, "Grandparents push again for access to grandchildren in custody disputes", Keith Leslie, Nov. 6, 2016

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